Two posts in one day! Barely -- I'm stuffed full of food and booze after BaconFest 2008 (about which more tomorrow). It's rainy, I'm logy, and I read another book:
#9 -- "Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation" by Laura Silber and Alan Little
Another Balkan book? Well, yes. I see this described a lot as the one book you need to read on the conflict of the 1990s, and having done so, I can add my voice to the chorus. It's a surprisingly fast read -- it's exhaustively researched and really leaves nothing out, but it also doesn't pad with a lot of extraneous detail.
Its main value as opposed to other books is the analysis of the political maneuverings leading up to the war. The basic thrust of it is that everyone tried to manipulate everyone else, and then ended up surprised when the puppets started acting independently. No one (save perhaps Richard Holbrooke and a number of lower-level Balkan officials) comes out looking too pretty. It's conflict as farce, a war that most parties entered into cheerfully without any idea of any consequences.
It's probably not a good way to lose your Balkan virginity -- too many Milosevics and Markovics, Jansas and Jovics -- but if you want a really deep read, this is really good and level-headed. And on that note, the thunder and lightning are stepping up, so off goes Mr. Computer. Sayonara!