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Ivo Goldstein: Croatia: A History

Written 01.12.2009. 11:26
This book is a fine example of prejudiced and politically correct diatribe against Croat "nationalism" (the central stigma for "liberal" kowtowing historical revisionists thinly disguised as professionals in the field). One thing cannot be dissected in full measure, because it lies beyond the scope of the review. And this is that Ivo Goldstein is a PC historian (PhD and all that jazz notwithstanding), a product of socialist revisionism that sought to curb all "nationalisms" by falsifying many facets of national histories. Goldstein is a product of this Marxist reductionism that coalesced with newer political correctness (after the collapse of Communism) in joint diatribes against that “malign nationalists” who prevent the materialization (a la Sai Baba, I guess) of liberal conflict-free paradise on earth. Also, it is completely in line both with Goldstein's previous work on medieval Croatian history (a book and numerous articles), where he expounded his own "shrinking" and minimalist version of Croatian medievalistics (hopelessly wandering in the desert left by his former mentor, a self-appointed iconoclastic historian Nada Klaić (although he has gone far beyond her; in a perverse irony of historiography’s meanders, Goldstein transmuted her quirky iconoclasm into a dogma reminiscent of Stalin’s revisionist scribes’s canon of falsification)).
Goldstein's previous work consists of a book (Hrvatska povijest ranog srednjeg vijeka/Croatian history in the early Middle Ages) and numerous articles. They all show similar traits:
a) reductionism (Goldstein’s misuse of early historical chronicles (Byzantine, Venetian, Frankish) is legendary). His mentor's (Nada Klaić) works had blundered this way, but not so radically. More- his pseudoscholium is based on free distortions of historical sources ("hey- this passage fits. I'll take it. Hmm. And-*this* must be wrong, some kind of mistake since it gives a mental fodder to nasty nationalists. Hence- I'll ignore this manuscript (Byzantine, Arabic, Venetian) altogether") without a clear argumentation- just pompous pronouncements). For instance, much more qualified historians like Stanko Guldescu, Ivo Perić, Miroslav Brandt etc. are in direct collision with his "findings". He hilariously chopped Croatia's territory in 9th/10th century by more than 30-40%, with no argument whatsoever save a few dismissive remarks.
b) he consciously ignored some "unpleasant" facts about early Croat architecture (complexities with Stonehengean astronomic resonances) and minimized the worth of Croatian Renaissance and Baroque literature (which is the best literary output of any Slavic nation in that period, although it lags behind masterworks of Renaissance Italy, France or England.)
c) even as a medievalist Goldstein flunked. As a national history surveyor, his short book is a case of heavy misreading serving, as has been said, the new revisionism which tries to rewrite last 10 (or so) years of ex-Yu history as a sort of mixture of nationalist hysterics heyday and redistribution of "guilt" (not entirely- he knows some things are too transparent). His "treatment" of president Tudjman and his political manoeuvres whereby Croatia acquired her independence virtually against the majority of "international players" is instigated by his vitriolic hatred of all things Croatian that have even an angstromsize connection with the fallen Independent State of Croatia (NDH). Hell- Goldstein always preferred Yu integrations and Tito’s velvet dictatorship- a pet of Western leftist/liberal dogmatists. Under the guise of impartiality the author sells his own agenda: good (but misinformed) internatonales, bad provincial Balkan chauvinists, ineradicable Croat fascist leanings, “progressive” ideology of “Yugoslavism” as a sort of John the Baptist before the EU Christ,.......
Virtually the only merit of Croatia: A History illustrates La Rochefoucauld’s apothegm:”Our virtues are mostly vices in disguise”. Goldstein has, thanks to his version of “historical minimalism”, avoided the fabrications and fictions of national grandomanias which plague the official historiographies of neighboring nations, especially Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. Other than that- for more reliable Croatian histories in English one should consult works of Ivo Perić, Stjepan Antoljak’s "A Survey of Croatian History", Stanko Guldescu, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts history series, Marcus Tanner, Mikulic’s “Opened seals” and Eterovich’s guide to Croatian genealogy. In Goldstein’s case- professional credentials (recently heavily questioned) are just a smokescreen.

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