In the early 1990s, Albania, arguably Europe's most closed and repressive state, began a startling transition out of forty years of self-imposed Communist isolation. Albanians who were not allowed to practice religion, travel abroad, wear jeans, or read "decadent" Western literature began to devour the outside world. They opened cafés, companies, and newspapers. Previously banned rock music blared in the streets.
Modern Albania offers a vivid history of the Albanian Communist regime's fall and the trials and tribulations that led the country to become the state it is today. The book provides an in-depth look at the Communists' last Politburo meetings and the first student revolts, the fall of the Stalinist regime, the outflows of refugees, the crash of the massive pyramid-loan schemes, the war in neighboring Kosovo, and Albania's relationship with the United States. Fred Abrahams weaves together personal experience from more than twenty years of work in Albania, interviews with key Albanians and foreigners who played a role in the country's politics since 1990--including former Politburo members, opposition leaders, intelligence agents, diplomats, and founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army--and a close examination of hundreds of previously secret government records from Albania and the United States. A rich, narratively-driven account, Modern Albania gives readers a front-row seat to the dramatic events of the last battle of Cold War Europe.
For more, visit modern-albania.com
Fred C. Abrahams
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is incredibly well researched - ripe with details and facts - but also extremely well-written. I knew a little (but only a little) about Albania's political history going in and found the style and substance very compelling.
More than anything, I am left with a sense of the intense drama that dominates the lives of Albania's political elites. The characters - Berisha, Hoxha, etc. come to life. Abrahams builds their personalities up rather masterfully only to tear them down by juxtaposing their never-ending lust for power against the enormous challenges Albania faces.
My late husband and I spent our wedding trip in Albania. We took my parents along -- my father was born in Korce in 1907 and we wanted to give him a trip back to his childhood home. I read Edith Durham's High Albania ahead of the trip, which was in 1994, and several of the books by the excellent Albanian writer Kadare -- and I don't think a whole lot has been written on Albania since. It is great to have a serious book on the subject now.
We hired a driver who took us along breathtakingly beautiful roads in the mountains from Tirana to Korce, which is on a plateau and has cool weather even in the hot summer. The driver was an army guy (as was my husband) and had driven trucks along this road for many years, so we felt he could get us there safely. We saw perhaps three or four cars the entire journey. On the way the driver pointed out where a small group of people were standing on the edge of the road looking into the valley; he explained that bandits drive in two cars, one...
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