Tito

ISBN: 1850651558
ISBN 13: 9781850651550
By: Stevan K. Pavlowitch

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This biography offers a straightforward, balanced approach to the man who reigned over Yugoslavia for 35 years. Pavlowitch strips away the myths about Tito and his life and places him within a broad historical perspective as a key 20th-century European leader. He begins with the economic, social and national factors that helped to create Josip Broz Tito, then considers his role after the chaos of World War II, when he unified Yugoslavia by offering something to each of its constituent ehtnic communities.

Reader's Thoughts

Robert

Along with Milovan Djilas' Tito: The Story from Inside, Pavlowitch's slender biography is the best and most accessible treatment of Tito and his political legacy. Tito was something between Pavlowitch's "leader rather than a rebel" and Zarko Puhovski's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz." As for Tito's political legacy, Pavlowitch concludes that he was a Western-subsidized muddler who focused his prodigious political instincts on maintaining his personal power within a one-party confederation and satisfying his need to be a global figure, both of which sacrificed Yugoslavia's future for Tito's present:"The West had failed to see that Tito and his Communist Party had not created lasting political institutions through which different interest groups might resolve their conflicts, or a climate of tolerance able to contain ethnic differences. Tito's Western admirers had been unable to see through the illusions, beyond the economic 'muddling through' and the superficial political stability. Western policy had, in the end, simply encouraged a sclerotic status quo, without fully taking into account the need to maximise prospects for a positive change."Anyone familiar with Western, and particularly American, tendencies to project their own hopes and dreams onto foreign actors (cf., the current so-called Arab Spring), is certainly unsurprised by this conclusion. To the extent that anyone will think about Tito at all in the future, it is most likely that historians will, over time, begin to describe him and his reign in terms comparable to those used to portray the ephemeral medieval Balkan empires. Personal rule and military superiority (augmented after consolidation of power by Rankovic's brutal and efficient security apparatus) substituted for institutional development and national cohesion. "As revolutionaries, [the KPJ] could have provided the imagination that the founding fathers of the first Yugoslav state had lacked." As it was, by the end of the communist period, "[a] vacuum had been created in which most people thought only of promoting their own personal interests, either by joining the privileged class or by cheating the system. That is what Titoism had generally come to mean to them."

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