Croatia, Slovenia & Bosnia-Herzegovina: Recommended Books and Movies
By Rick Steves and Cameron Hewitt
To get a feel for Croatia and Slovenia past and present, check out some of these books and films. (And see our similar lists for elsewhere in Europe.)
- Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Rebecca West, 1941). This bricklike classic, written during a journey between the two World Wars, is the definitive travelogue of the Yugoslav lands.
- Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends (Lonnie Johnson, 1996). The best historical overview of Croatia, Slovenia, and their neighboring countries.
- How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed (Slavenka Drakulić, 1992). Insightful essay collection on more recent Croatian history. Journalist Drakulić also penned the similarly themed and equally engaging Café Europa: Life After Communism; The Balkan Express; and A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism.
- Safe Area Goražde (Joe Sacco, 2000). Powerful graphic novel describing the author's real-life experience living in a mostly Muslim town in Bosnia-Herzegovina while it was surrounded by Serb forces during the wars of the 1990s. Sacco's follow-up, The Fixer and Other Stories, focuses on real-life characters he met in siege-time Sarajevo.
- They Would Never Hurt a Fly (Slavenka Drakulić, 2004). Nonfiction novel profiling Yugoslav war criminals.
- A Traveller's History of Croatia (Benjamin Curtis, 2010). The most readable history of Croatia itself.
- Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation (Laura Silber and Allan Little, 1995). Thorough explanation, written to accompany the similarly titled BBC documentary, of how and why Yugoslavia broke apart.
- The Battle of Neretva (1969). This classic from Tito-era Yugoslavia imported Hollywood talent in the form of Yul Brenner and Orson Welles to tell the story of a pivotal and inspiring battle in the fight against the Nazis.
- Border Post (Karaula, 2006). Croatian film about various Yugoslav soldiers working together just before the war broke out.
- The Death of Yugoslavia (1995). Remarkable five-hour BBC documentary series featuring actual interviews with all of the key players. (It's difficult to find on home video, but try searching for "Death of Yugoslavia" on YouTube; the book Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, noted above, was a companion piece to this film.)
- The Diplomat (2015). Documentary about Richard Holbrooke, the American who negotiated the peace to end the Yugoslav Wars.
- In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011). Angelina Jolie's intense, difficult-to-watch directorial debut telling the story of the Bosnian conflict through the eyes of a civilian woman held in a "rape camp."
- No Man's Land (2001). Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this Slovenian production is by far the best film to grasp the Yugoslav Wars that shook this region in the early 1990s.
- Srebrenica: A Cry From the Grave (1999). Harrowing BBC documentary about the infamous Bosnian massacre (also available on YouTube).
- When Father Was Away on Business (1985). Croatian movie about a prisoner on the Tito-era gulag island of Goli Otok, near Rab.
Other worthwhile local movies include Armin (2007), How the War Started on My Island (1996), Underground (1995), and Tito and Me (1992).
Fans of HBO's Game of Thrones may recognize locations in Dubrovnik and other Croatian coastal towns, where much of the series is filmed.
Cameron Hewitt is the co-author of the Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia guidebook.