New books about 20th-century Albania are always welcome, and this book by Biser Petrov is especially welcome, shedding light on the roots of the Cold War in the Balkans. Elegantly written, the book covers the period from the spring of 1939 through the early 1950s. Evaluating British activities in the region, Petrov concludes that British policy toward Albania in the first two years of World War II “revealed a complete disregard for Albanians’ interests, sacrificed in the name of purely egoistical reasons, which were considered more significant” (p. 303).

Petrov offers an intriguing discussion of British clandestine operations and subversive activities in Albania during and shortly after the war. In the late 1940s, according to Petrov, the British were seeking the “neutralization of [Albania], which was geographically cut off from the rest of the Soviet camp,” in the hope that this would “lead eventually to the disintegration of the entire...

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