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Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man ePub download

by Christopher S. Stewart

  • Author: Christopher S. Stewart
  • ISBN: 0312356064
  • ISBN13: 978-0312356064
  • ePub: 1560 kb | FB2: 1447 kb
  • Language: English
  • Category: Politics & Government
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Pages: 336
  • Rating: 4.6/5
  • Votes: 766
  • Format: mobi docx rtf azw
Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man ePub download

A gripping investigation into the extraordinary career of Serbia’s legendary warlord.

Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic began his life as a petty criminal, a juvenile delinquent adrift in the floundering state of Yugoslavia. He would eventually become famous throughout Western Europe: as the “smiling bank robber”; as a Houdini-like fugitive from multiple prisons; and even as a state-sponsored assassin. Stories of motorboat robberies and daylight bank heists would follow him from country to country. Yet however impressive his criminal reputation seemed at first, it was only the beginning of his path to infamy.

Following Yugoslavia’s chaotic descent into madness inthe 1990s, Arkan would become not only a gangster but one of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s most valued henchmen in the country’s civil war. He rallied Belgrade’s notoriously violent soccer hooligans, paired them with inmates from Serbia’s prisons, among other brutal street thugs, and trained them to become his ruthless foot soldiers, known as the “Tigers.” During the war, the men rampaged through Croatia and Bosnia---killing, raping, burning, and looting. As they earned a reputation as Serbia’s most feared death squad (accused of genocide by The Hague tribunal), Arkan became one of the region’s wealthiest men. A national hero, he married the country’s greatest pop star---the so-called “Madonna of the Balkans”---in a ceremony that was compared to that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

His fame and good fortune, however, could not last. In 1999, as NATO bombs fell on Belgrade, The Hague’s International War Crimes Tribunal indicted Arkan for crimes against humanity, the United States called for his arrest, the world media chased him, and mobster rivals wanted him dead. His days were numbered, and just after the Serbian New Year, he was shockingly assassinated in the crowded lobby of a high-profile Belgrade hotel.

In Hunting the Tiger, journalist Christopher S. Stewart tells the spectacular, bloody, and often nebulous story of a man who was equal parts James Bond, James Dean,Billy the Kid, and Al Capone. In a region still in the throes of sectarian conflict and wracked by the aftermath of decades of violence, Stewart gives us an engaging first-person look at one man who became a symbol of an intensely combustible and illicit age, andwho played both villain and hero at a profound historical moment.

Being a service member involved in hunting these warlord types, this was insight into the man that we all called the Tiger. He had his own private army, and they were thugs. They would harass UN troops, but when the US military got in their faces, they were like kids...scare gad and wanting to ask about American gangster history. That was so strange. The mass graves, the genocide, and all these people wanted to do was exploit the people of their own nation. I'm glad this man is dead, and I cannot believe some people celebrate his gravesite.
The book itself is not so bad as far as the outline in general of Arkan's life, but there are problems with the book. The main issue I have is the writer Christopher Stewart has a lot of accounts in the book where he'll say that either the person relating the story failed to give a name to him to verify their accounts responding only by saying they are scared or have killed people or just don't want to tell him. This makes it hard to confirm his version of the facts. He also goes on to say that a lot of the stories may have been made up or just remembered incorrectly due to being passed from person to person. This gives him a lot of leeway in deciding what he takes for the truth.

Another issue I have with the book is there is some lack of research done by the author or checked by his editor. There are a lot of incorrect names used for different types of weapons. He uses incorrect names and calibers for some. This may seem like a small detail but I imagine there are many who are reading this book as a piece of military history as well as an account of the Balkan wars.

The other problem I have with the book is that Christopher Stewart seems to act like most of the situations he was involved in we're life threatening. I'm sure there were times in researching the book but he had to meet with unsavory characters but Mr. Stewart makes it seem like everyone he talks to you is out to kill him or do him in if he publishes.

Mr. Stewart seems to be slightly timid. I did like the way he sets up how the war started and also the backstory of what took place. He does also include some history of the region and locations.
Although I have read numerous books on the Balkan wars none ever offered a broad picture of Arkan.

Some books offer a rather journalistic view of the conflict. I'm referring to works like Alan Little and Laura Silber's "The death of Yugoslavia" which is a rich chronicle of political and military events before and during the war. A similar book is David Rohde's "Srebrenica", although this one deals with a particular conflict (Bosnia) and with events taking place in one specific town.

Other books' dwelve deeper on the historical roots of the conflict (some elaborate on the Turkish period more than others; some examine the interwar period with detail, the Second World War or the Titoist regime).

I first heard of Arkan and his exploits in newspaper reports, back in the late 1990s. News reports spoke of a certain fellow (Arkan) which they put on a par with Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Milosevic). These reports mentioned Arkan's previous history of delinquency in Sweden.

Books that I read also mentioned Arkan. However, these books didn't elaborate much on his person; there was a repetitive mention of the tigers, of Swedish bank robberies and there was also some mention of Arkan's post-war life --such as his marriage to Ceca and ultimately his assassination in Novi Beograd's Hyatt Hotel.

Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man is the first book I read where Arkan is not only an anecdote.

I am very grateful to this book for filling a gap of knowledge. I have travelled to Belgrade on two separate occassions (the last time in 2001) and I remember having taken pictures of a big compound on Knez Mihaila street. One of the soldiers guarding the building forbade me to take any more photos. That building, now I know thanks to this book, once housed offices of the powerful UDBA.

I also remember Zoran Djindjnc's death and at the time I didn't connect this event to Nicola Kavaja (because I had never heard of him, there's not a mention of Kavaja in any of the books I cite). I also knew how bad things turned out for Belgrade (especially the rise of criminal activities after communism) but I had never heard of the policeman who wanted to put Arkan behind bars, whose story is told in the book with some detail.

Why did I ignore all of this? There could be a number of reasons, maybe the language, since I don't read nor understand Serbian, books printed in Belgrade were out of my reach --as were valuable B92 documentaries. Secondly, books I read (and in this case books printed in Western European countries or in America) seemed more concerned with the broad picture of the war: the dispatching of UN or European emissaries, the voting of resolutions at the UN level, the maneouvers of the Clinton administration, the international reactions to bloody events in Sarajevo, etcetera, etcetera...

I'm not saying that other authors are wrong in their approach, I'm not saying either that those books are incomplete. What I'm trying to say is that the events sorrounding Arkan's life are very important, if not essential in the understanding of the Balkan wars. For any academic with an interest in this subject Hunting the tiger is a very important part of the puzzle.
Growing up in Belgrade I used to see Arkan all the time around the city. A lot of residents had this Mafia-movie like romantic sentimental notion about him and his group, as if they were patriots and protectors of the Serbs. However, Arkan was just a ordinary criminal who got extremely lucky (until his luck ran out in Hotel Intercontinental). This is an exceptionally interesting book with a lot of background information that even many who grew up in Belgrade would not be familiar with.
This reads like a breathless caricature of Arkan. The author is clearly fascinated by him, yet seems to lack an understanding of the atmosphere of the time and the setting in which Arkan was moving. Even though it relies on some interviews with some of the players, the author lacks the depth of knowledge or sophistication to pull of such a tricky autobiography.
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