Croatia: A Nation forged in war, By Marcus Tanner

As Croatia inches to EU membership, and more Britons come to know a beautiful, if battle-scarred country, this third edition of a definitive history lands at a perfect time. Tanner covered the secession wars in former Yugoslavia for The Independent.

In his book, a lucid, expert account of Croatia's past at the bloody crossroads of big-power ambitions – Turks, Austrians, Italians, Russians – leads smoothly into a riveting close-up view of the 1990s fight for independence, enriched by much bold reportage.

A decade after the chauvinist Tudjman era closed, Croats are experimenting with identities "in the same way that people try out new hats". Tanner explains the hidden forces behind the current fashions.

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