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Hunting The Tiger: The Fast Life And Violent Death Of The Balkans' Most Dangerous Man

by Christopher S. Stewart
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
  • Publishing date: 08/01/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312356064
  • ISBN: 0312356064

Synopsis

A gripping investigation into the extraordinary career of Serbia’s legendary warlord.

Zeljko ?Arkan” Raznatovic began his life as a petty criminal, a juvenile delinquent adrift in the floundering state of Yugoslavia. He would eventually become famous throughout Western Europe: as the ?smiling bank robber”; as a Houdini-like fugitive from multiple prisons; and even as a state-sponsored assassin. Stories of motorboat robberies and daylight bank heists would follow him from country to country. Yet however impressive his criminal reputation seemed at first, it was only the beginning of his path to infamy.

Following Yugoslavia’s chaotic descent into madness in the 1990s, Arkan would become not only a gangster but one of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s most valued henchmen in the country’s civil war. He rallied Belgrade’s notoriously violent soccer hooligans, paired them with inmates from Serbia’s prisons, among other brutal street thugs, and trained them to become his ruthless foot soldiers, known as the ?Tigers.” During the war, the men rampaged through Croatia and Bosnia---killing, raping, burning, and looting. As they earned a reputation as Serbia’s most feared death squad (accused of genocide by The Hague tribunal), Arkan became one of the region’s wealthiest men. A national hero, he married the country’s greatest pop star---the so-called ?Madonna of the Balkans”---in a ceremony that was compared to that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

His fame and good fortune, however, could not last. In 1999, as NATO bombs fell on Belgrade, The Hague’s International War Crimes Tribunal indicted Arkan for crimes against humanity, the United States called for his arrest, the world media chased him, and mobster rivals wanted him dead. His days were numbered, and just after the Serbian New Year, he was shockingly assassinated in the crowded lobby of a high-profile Belgrade hotel.

In Hunting the Tiger, journalist Christopher S. Stewart tells the spectacular, bloody, and often nebulous story of a man who was equal parts James Bond, James Dean, Billy the Kid, and Al Capone. In a region still in the throes of sectarian conflict and wracked by the aftermath of decades of violence, Stewart gives us an engaging first-person look at one man who became a symbol of an intensely combustible and illicit age, and who played both villain and hero at a profound historical moment.

 

Christopher S. Stewart has written for The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, GQ, The Paris Review, and many other publications. He lives in New York City.

Zeljko ?Arkan” Raznatovic began his life as a petty criminal adrift in Yugoslavia. He would eventually become famous throughout Western Europe as the ?smiling bank robber,” as a Houdini-like fugitive from multiple prisons, and even as a state-sponsored assassin. However impressive his criminal reputation seemed at first, it was only the beginning of his path to infamy.

Following Yugoslavia’s chaotic descent into madness in the 1990s, Arkan would become not only a gangster but one of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s most valued henchmen in the country’s civil war. He rallied Belgrade’s notoriously violent soccer hooligans, paired them with inmates from Serbia’s prisons, among other brutal street thugs, and trained them to become his ruthless foot soldiers, known as the ?Tigers.” During the war, the men rampaged through Croatia and Bosnia?killing, raping, burning, and looting. As they earned a reputation as Serbia’s most feared death squad (accused of genocide by The Hague Tribunal), Arkan became one of the region’s wealthiest men.

His fame and good fortune, however, could not last. In 1999, as NATO bombs fell on Belgrade, The Hague’s International War Crimes Tribunal indicted Arkan for crimes against humanity, the United States called for his arrest, the world media chased him, and mobster rivals wanted him dead. His days were numbered, and just after the Serbian New Year, he was shockingly assassinated in the crowded lobby of a high-profile Belgrade hotel.

In Hunting the Tiger, journalist Christopher S. Stewart tells the spectacular, bloody, and often nebulous story of a man who was equal parts James Bond, James Dean, Billy the Kid, and Al Capone. In a region still in the midst of sectarian conflict and dealing with the aftermath of decades of violence, Stewart gives a first-person look at one man who became a symbol of an intensely combustible and illicit age, and who played both villain and hero at a profound historical moment.

?Starting with his own heart-pounding train trip through Serbia in the late 1990s, Christopher S. Stewart launches the reader into the dark, bloody world of Serb paramilitaries. Hunting the Tiger is a fast, terrifying read that manages to penetrate one of the most violent and secretive organizations in the world. I don’t know how he did it. . . . I’m just glad it wasn’t me.”?Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm

?An altogether irresistible story about a totally repellent man. Christopher S. Stewart’s great achievement is to help us understand how a man so ruthless, savage, and worthless as Arkan could dazzle and excite so many people in his wounded, twisted nation. You keep turning the pages through amazing stories about mad heists, lust, greed, and massacres, shaking your head and wondering how this could have gone on, not so long ago or far away.”?Scott Simon, National Public Radio, author of Pretty Birds

?In a book that combines meticulous investigative journalism with the tone of a well-written thriller, Christopher S. Stewart charts the astonishing rise and fall of ?Arkan the Tiger,’ one of the most infamous of modern war criminals. In the process, he has cast a brilliant light onto an ominous phenomenon that is occurring in many of today’s war zones: the blurring of the line between ?patriot’ and gangster, soldier and psychopath. His book should be essential reading not only for those who wish to understand what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s, but for anyone seeking to grasp why the ?modern’ battlefield has become so savage.”?Scott Anderson, author of Moonlight Hotel

?In the groundbreaking Hunting the Tiger, author Christopher S. Stewart has done the impossible in uncovering the secret truth that lies behind the hall-of-mirrors life of gangster, folk hero, assassin, and international war criminal Zeljko ?Arkan’ Raznatovic. Part gripping biography, part white-knuckle investigation, it reads as a pure thrill ride as the reader follows Stewart as he tracks down and finally reveals the true face of one of history’s most awesomely terrifying villains.”?John Falk, author of Hello to All That


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  • Great book.
    From Amazon

    Simply a great read. I didn't know much about the war in the Balkans before. This book was not only informative but it really read like a novel at times. The first hand accounts by the author of the people who ran with Arkan were really fascinating.

  • A Great Book that covers Arkan's fascinating life with great detail and research.
    From Amazon

    Christopher Stewart does an absolutely commendable job with this book. I say this as history student finishing up his master's degree who is totally entranced with the Serbia. In essence, this is the book I realized I wanted to write back in 2003 - when Stewart was already knee-deep in his adventurous and entertaining research. The book is great, and by the very nature of its subject matter, reinforced with Stewart's writing style, is an entrancing and entertaining read for nearly anyone - regardless of their interest in 1990s Serbia. In my opinion, Stewart's most commendable job is his great research for Arkan's pre-1991 life. In order to get half the information Stewart provide for the early half of Arkan's life, a reader would need to read in detail practically every English source written on the man. The very nature of the man's wild lifestyle make tracing his steps enormously difficult, but Stewart did a comprehensive job. Even moments Like Arkan and Kostovki's daring rescue of Fabiani from a Swedish courthouse is well researched. I have heard of his this breakout before - but simply regarded it as a fanciful tale, but Stewart tracked down the sources and can verify if with rational certainty is actually happened. Another part of the book I was exceptionally impressed with was the analysis of Arkan near the last month's of his life. The interviews with his close friends concerning his behavior humanize what is essentially a war criminal - and that is interesting. I found that part of the book very touchy, which is in itself interesting because the target/victim/whatever is 'the Balkan's most dangerous man.' Even his interview with Ceca proved some wielding results. Lots of people have interviewed Ceca - she is normally very tight-lipped. But I found her quote about 'waving a wand' to undo the past quote touching. Touching, even with the knowledge that she is not the most innocent of women. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was extremely satisfied and impressed with its quality. If I must make criticisms, I wish the author was able to make a more definitive stance on Arkan's role in in Kosovo. I will fully admit - this is a period of general flux and fog when it comes to the Tigers, Red Berets, JSO, etc. But anyone who read the newspapers of the time came to the same conclusion: he'd be reported in Kosovo but would be sippin tea in the Hyatt or some other place the next day. And when it comes to the minor...I didn't appreciate Milosevic as 'Mr. Suicide.' I hate the man, I take no pleasure in degrading his person because of his tragic upbringing. GREAT BOOK. BUY IT. READ IT. ENJOY IT.

  • Interesting topic, poor writing
    From Amazon

    Disappointing read because the writing style lacks development and the editors missed several typos. The author also repeats several quotations as if it is new material. It could have been much better.

  • Excellent
    From Amazon

    Great book on a complicated, violent, murdering, thieving, mad-man. Arkan's story is incredible really and unbelievable.

  • Fills an important gap
    From Amazon

    Although I have read numerous books on the Balkan wars none ever offered a broad picture of Arkan. Some books offer a rather journalistic view of the conflict. I'm referring to works like Alan Little and Laura Silber's "The death of Yugoslavia" which is a rich chronicle of political and military events before and during the war. A similar book is David Rohde's "Srebrenica", although this one deals with a particular conflict (Bosnia) and with events taking place in one specific town. Other books' dwelve deeper on the historical roots of the conflict (some elaborate on the Turkish period more than others; some examine the interwar period with detail, the Second World War or the Titoist regime). I first heard of Arkan and his exploits in newspaper reports, back in the late 1990s. News reports spoke of a certain fellow (Arkan) which they put on a par with Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Milosevic). These reports mentioned Arkan's previous history of delinquency in Sweden. Books that I read also mentioned Arkan. However, these books didn't elaborate much on his person; there was a repetitive mention of the tigers, of Swedish bank robberies and there was also some mention of Arkan's post-war life --such as his marriage to Ceca and ultimately his assassination in Novi Beograd's Hyatt Hotel. Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans' Most Dangerous Man is the first book I read where Arkan is not only an anecdote. I am very grateful to this book for filling a gap of knowledge. I have travelled to Belgrade on two separate occassions (the last time in 2001) and I remember having taken pictures of a big compound on Knez Mihaila street. One of the soldiers guarding the building forbade me to take any more photos. That building, now I know thanks to this book, once housed offices of the powerful UDBA. I also remember Zoran Djindjnc's death and at the time I didn't connect this event to Nicola Kavaja (because I had never heard of him, there's not a mention of Kavaja in any of the books I cite). I also knew how bad things turned out for Belgrade (especially the rise of criminal activities after communism) but I had never heard of the policeman who wanted to put Arkan behind bars, whose story is told in the book with some detail. Why did I ignore all of this? There could be a number of reasons, maybe the language, since I don't read nor understand Serbian, books printed in Belgrade were out of my reach --as were valuable B92 documentaries. Secondly, books I read (and in this case books printed in Western European countries or in America) seemed more concerned with the broad picture of the war: the dispatching of UN or European emissaries, the voting of resolutions at the UN level, the maneouvers of the Clinton administration, the international reactions to bloody events in Sarajevo, etcetera, etcetera... I'm not saying that other authors are wrong in their approach, I'm not saying either that those books are incomplete. What I'm trying to say is that the events sorrounding Arkan's life are very important, if not essential in the understanding of the Balkan wars. For any academic with an interest in this subject Hunting the tiger is a very important part of the puzzle.

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