Death of a Monster

0300103174Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who was on trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, died in his prison cell on Saturday, apparently from a heart attack. Known in the U.S. as “the butcher of the Balkans,” Milosevic orchestrated a decade of violence in the region and was accused of instigating bloody campaigns of ethnic cleansing against non-Serbs that destroyed a once sophisticated multi-national country.


The life of this man–or monster–is expertly documented in Milosevic: A Biography, which has been called “the best Milosevic story available” and a work that “seems destined to become the standard reference work for Slobodan Milosevic.” Written by Adam Lebor, who covered the Yugoslav wars as a journalist for the Independent and London Times, the biography describes Milosevic’s unhappy childhood, his marriage, and his important friendships, and offers details about the ascendancy of crime over politics in the new republic and the secret channels used by Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as they conspired to carve up Bosnia. Drawing on his unrivalled access to many of those closest to Milosevic, LeBor recounts the history of the negotiations between Milosevic and the Western diplomats, politicians, and businessmen with whom he dealt, and tells the tragic story of the wars. Finally he portrays the unprecedented international operation that brought down the Milosevic regime in 2001 and led to his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

A gripping account of Europe’s first rogue leader in the post-cold war period, Milosevic: A Biography is also a revelatory look at the tragic story of the collapse of a country and the role played by the West.

Read an op-ed piece by Adam LeBor in Wednesday’s New York Times.

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