Cover blood and circuses

In the first year of the last decade of the twentieth century, Europe’s two great socialist empires collapsed suddenly. After years of subservience to Moscow and Belgrade, national leaders at the margins of the Soviet and Yugoslav spheres now played for the highest stakes. What had previously been administrative internal borders became wild international frontiers where sickening violence reared its ugly head amongst the peoples of Eastern Europe.

Journalist Rob O’Connor follows those peoples for whom sovereignty and freedom have come at the highest price, telling their stories from the perspective of the ultimate laboratory of social science, the football pitch. As new nations have sought to rescue what is left of their cultures from the wreckage of forced Sovietisation, football has joined up the past with a deeply uncertain present.

In these stories, the game is played both as an act of resistance and as an act of rebuilding. It represents ideas about identity and community – a pacifist’s alternative to the butt of a rifle. In war, football survives to remind people of their humanity.

Raised By War focuses on the bloody inter-ethnic wars that unfolded in eight of Europe’s disputed territories: Kosovo in the Balkans; Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Lower Transcaucasia; Pridnestrovia at the foothills of the Carpathians; Crimea on the shores of the Black Sea; and the ‘hot’ conflicts of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region. 


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  • Hardback, 320 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785905117
  • 2 April 2020
    Available to pre-order
  • £20.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785905865
  • 2 April 2020
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