AHMP Letter to the New York Times, January 26, 1996

Letters to the Editor
Book Review Section
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

To the Editor:

It was a rare pleasure to read Hugh Kennedy's excellent review of Lord Norwich's work, "Byzantium: The Decline and Fall" (January 7, 1996).

Mr. Kennedy's observation that it is worthwhile to study the Byzantine Empire (even for the limited purpose of developing a clearer understanding of today's eastern Europe) is absolutely on the mark.

This point has apparently been lost on the new crop of self-styled "experts" in Balkan history and political culture who have recently offered what are no more than pretentious travelogues masquerading as historiography. Unfortunately, there has been a spate of such books offered in response to the political ferment in the region, perhaps best exemplified by Robert Kaplan's superficially convincing but amateurish Balkan Ghosts.

It would be of great benefit to the Book Review section and its readership to continue to publish reviews such as Mr. Kennedy's, whose work is based not on casual observation and facile explanation but on insights gleaned from a lifetime of serious study and dedicated scholarship.

Very truly yours,

Paul J. Kutscera, Esq.
Associate Media Director

cc: Hugh Kennedy
University of St. Andrews
79 North Street
St. Andrews, Scottland
United Kingdom

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