I received this email from a Serbian named Slobodan. I've never met him, but I sent him my chapter on Serbia for his review. He wrote the email below. My comments are in BOLD.
On 6/9/2011 3:02 PM, Slobodan wrote:
> Hey Francis,
> As you already know, I enjoyed reading it, I either had chills down my spine or a smile on my face most of the time i was reading, I guess that's a good thing, because as someone who's been living here for 30 years I could connect with what you wrote, easily. So, in more detail:
> * Don't know if you heard of Archibald Reiss and his Ecoutez les Serbes! manuscript (written in 1928), but your chapter reminded me of it a lot. The difference is that his was written in a dead serious tone. Trust me, I wouldn't be kidding with Ecoutez les Serbes! (in my opinion every Serb should be forced to read it) or trying to compare anything to it, unless I felt it was really worth it. Serbian chapter felt like a lighthearted, 21st century version of that manuscript. I tried but couldn't find it anywhere online for you, in French or English, sorry.
Never heard of him. Thanks for letting me know. I'll keep my eye out!
> * Warning: I hope I won't sound like an editor with this next one. The conspiracy theory part felt a little out of place. It was fun to read, but some parts of it just felt like they don't belong there, even though it's obvious you used them to explain background of "conspiracy theorism" in Serbia. Now, if you have one side story in every chapter, then I think it's perfectly fine, but reading just this one it felt a little weird. Although, in a full book, that covers various topics (countries), it probably won't be a problem, I guess it could be that I was reading something about Serbia and my mind didn't expect anything else.
I do have side stories in several chapters, so by the time the reader gets to Serbia, he'll be used to it. Conspiracies aren't just a Serbian problem - they are all over Eastern Europe (all over the world too). It's just that the Balkans truly excel in it and the Serbs are the kings overall. So I felt that it was the best place to go on a diatribe about it.
> * You were absolutely right that not everyone will like it, however, there's no way one could not appreciate the fact that you did tons of research and were able to really connect with people from Serbia and write based on that experience. The ones that don't like it are the same people that stick with a conspiracy theory no matter what kind of evidence you present them. We have too many of those, as you noticed. But, they either A) can't read a book in English or B) wouldn't read a book, any book, in the first place.
True, I've thought about that. Thank god hooligans are idiots.
> * Majority of people aged 35 or under have not even heard of The Memorandum. I'll check with my parents to see what it's like for people older than that. Just thought you might find this interesting, how little we know of what causes most of bad things that happen to us, regardless of whether it's us or someone else that does the actual damage.
Interesting, but I suppose it's not that surprising. I would hope that those over 35 would have heard of it. Let me know.
> * I see you have a Kosovo chapter, and probably have covered Battle of Kosovo (1389 - that's the battle that ignited Turkish rule) there, but it's such a huge part of Serbian past, present and (unfortunately) future that it probably should've been mentioned. What we used to learn in schools about it is more myth than fact, and an average Joe (or Djordje, in Serbia) "knows" about ten times more about what happened there (mostly from a movie recorded for 600th anniversary of the battle in 1989 which is on every TV station at least once per year, June 28th, battle anniversary) than about what happened in 1990's wars, or probably about anything else in Serbian history. Funny thing is that when I was in Turkey, and asked people about Battle of Kosovo (which we proclaimed one of the most important battles ever and which most people see as an event in which Serbs sacrificed themselves but saved christianity and stopped spread of Islam) they either had no idea what I was talking about or thought I was asking them about another battle, which they fought against Hungarians. Even crazier is that Albanians fought on our side and about 99.9% (another estimate, but I'm very confident about it) of people in Serbia are not aware of this. For Serbs Kosovo is like The Island in Lost, we keep going back to it and keep getting screwed because of that.
Yeah, I address some of your points, although I didn't mention the Albanians fighting with Serbs, even though I read about it in Noel Malcolm's book. I preferred to minimize the controversy. I can send you the chapter if you want.
> These comments are by no means a way of saying I didn't like reading the chapter. It was easily a 10/10 reading experience for me, and I'm looking forward to buying the book and reading all of it. Signed, if possible
Thank you! I'll be in SF with copies in Sept!
> I'm extremely happy you were treated well in Southern Serbia (I'm from Nis) and sorry I wasn't one of your hosts back then.
Thank you! Nis is fun!!!!
Discuss Francis Tapon's upcoming book, "The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us."
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