Book Review: Through Another Europe

Through Another Europe: An Anthology on Travel Writing on the Balkans
Edited by Andrew Hammond.

The Balkans is an area where I haven’t travelled a lot, but which I would love to visit. I have only been in the Balkans twice. Five years ago, in August 2010, I visited Dubrovnik, earlier this year I visited Sarajevo. I loved both places and soon I have to return to the Balkans for a longer visit.

The last few years I have been reading many books about the Balkans, its history and culture has fascinated me.

Through Another Europe is a collection of travel writing from the Balkans. From the 1600s and up to today, the book spans many centuries and does a good job of telling the history of the Balkans. Every text is accompanied by an introduction by the editor, putting the text into the correct historical context as well as pointing out how the traveller’s impression of the Balkans changes over the years.

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Through Another Europe

The editor has done a good job of picking out which texts to include. It is a varied collection of stories, from many different writers. Most of the writings selected is excellent, but some of the stories I found a bit dull and of lesser quality. All in all, I found the book highly entertaining and well worth a read, the good parts are so much more numerous from the not-so-good parts.

What for me was most interesting was to see how travellers’ perception of the Balkans have changed over the years. The editor has carefully picked out the different storied to not only paint a picture of the Balkans, but also to show how the Balkans have been percieved over time. As the small snippets from the different travel books were sometimes not enough to fully get how the author saw the Balkans, the story of how travellers’ way of viewing the area has changed over the years became for me the best part of the book.

Through Another Europe is an entertaining book about the Balkans, and is an excellent starting point for reading more about the region. You are introduced to many different travel writers writing about the region, a great reference list for further reading. I know for sure I will look for books by some of the authors featured in Through Another Europe.

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