Time to order my father’s last book! Nobody's Kingdom, a history of Northern Albania

Tom Winnifrith Thursday 1 October 2020


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The first copy arrived in Shipston yesterday. There are currently only two copies in existence but in a few weeks there will be more. But my father, who is not well at all, did at least get to see the first copy of his last opus magnus: “Nobody’s Kingdom: A History of Northern Albania.”

Now I appreciate this is not going to be a best seller. But it will be a worthy successor to Badlands-Borderland: A History of Southern Albania/Northern Epirus which is now out of print and sells at £150 as a second hand item on Amazon.

The forward is by my father’s friend James Pettifer, a man who survived an education at Hertford College Oxford and who seems to regard its current woke incarnation with a justifiable disdain and who is an expert not only on the Balkans but also on Bruce Springsteen. Given that he also invests in shares, I feel we have an awful lot in common though we have never met.  But I am grateful to him for steering this over the line and so giving my father some pleasure in this difficult time.

The blurb says:

The Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, foreign invasion, communism and tribal conflict: these have been the realities of life in Northern Albania for centuries. In this rich and comprehensive history, Tom Winnifrith examines the many different elements that have shaped this independent and little-known region of the Balkans. He explores the fundamental division between the South of Albania and its mysterious, romantic North – more feudal, more tribal, more Catholic and more prone to Austrian and Italian influence.

It is also a region less affected by Greece, both ancient and modern, and by medieval Byzantium or the Orthodox faith. Northern Albania, with a terrain and climate much harsher than the south of the country, has traditionally had little respect for law and authority while its inhabitants remain in thrall to an ancient honour code — the kanun — demanding blood feuds and terrible revenge. Nobody’s Kingdom traces the history of this ruggedly beautiful region, frequently disturbed by both invaders and internal strife yet retaining a distinct national identity and character.

From its origins in the ancient kingdom of Illyria and the Roman province of Illyricum, through Byzantine and Ottoman rule, the granting of Albanian independence in 1912, the rise and fall of communism to its current fragile democracy, Northern Albania can be seen as a cultural crossroads – especially remarkable given its mountainous and difficult landscape. This book, both scholarly and readable, is the first modern comprehensive history of Northern Albania and is a timely and accessible introduction to a remote and inaccessible region.

If you have a spare £17.60, you can pre-order at Nobody’s Kingdom: A History of Northern Albania.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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