Review report on Dr. Vladislav B.

Sotirovic’s book manuscript “Creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, 1914-1918” Dr. Sotirovic’s book is a welcome investigation into the political ideas and strategies immediately preceding and leading to the creation of the first Yugoslav state. Utilising an apt selection of primary as well as secondary sources Dr. Sotirovic builds a historical narrative around a central plot of state- and nation-building, which is focussed on the intense war-years (1914-1918) although taking departure a few decades earlier. Sotirovic investigates the various options, objectives, and ideas of a Yugoslav state, such as the question of a federal or unitary state, a republic or monarchy, etc. and builds a narrative around the positions of various agents and the shifting relations between them. Thus, especially the triad of the Serbian Government, the Yugoslav Committee, and the National Council, and their mutual as well as conflicting interests, is analysed in some detail. Their respective positions and interests is interwoven with an analysis of the shifting relations and positions of the Great powers of the time. Here, Sotirovic discusses the war-aims of the various actors, discusses the relationships and strategies between and before declarations and conferences (such as Corfu, Geneva) and especially the opportunities and obstacles that the various agents were confronted with at the time as well as how they interpreted them. The presentation is generally accessible as well as captivating. To mention just an example, the various positions among southern Slavs in the Habsburg monarchy, such as the question of whether to aim for further autonomy and federalisation within Habsburg, or to aim for the break-up of Habsburg either with the aim to create a separate Croatian state or to create a Yugoslav state, is portrayed in a captivating manner. So is the case with the political and diplomatic drama unfolding after the Treaty of London, as well as the relationship between the Yugoslav Committee (created as a response to the treaty) and the Serbian Government. Beneath the subsequent compromises there were central tension points, which in fact were born into the first Yugoslav state from the outset. Such tension points are clearly laid out in the presentation. The question of how to organise political space in the Balkans is of course highly timely today as well as it was a Century ago. Since the break-down of the Yugoslav state there has, in the literature as well as public debate, been an increased attention to the question of legitimacy of the Yugoslav state. For this reason alone, an historical account of the rationales behind the creation of the Yugoslav state in the first case, and the historical contingency of the issue and of the proposed solutions, is welcome. The historical contingency of such highly timely political issues is implicit in Sotirovic’s account. Thereby,

this book is a welcome contribution to the history of state-building and nationhood in Yugoslavia and in the Balkans. The work will not only be of interest to area specialists and historians of the Balkans, but will also be relevant for political scientists and students of nationalism and state-building in general. In my opinion, the accessible style also makes this an appropriate textbook for students in for example Slavic Studies or Balkan Area Studies.

Dr. Jens Stilhoff Sörensen Swedish Institute for International Affairs Box 27035 102 51 Stockholm SWEDEN

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