August 28, 2020

: Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania (): Blendi Fevziu, Robert Elsie: Books. Blendi Fevziu’s biography of Enver Hoxha, first published in , comes to an English-speaking audience after a tumultuous reception in. In Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania, Blendi Fevziu provides the first English- language biography of the dictator, drawing upon hitherto.

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Simeon Mitropolitski particularly recommends this read to those looking to widen their understanding and knowledge of Albania and its history.

The Iron Fist of Albania. In his book Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of AlbaniaAlbanian journalist Blendi Fevziu presents English-language readers with the first comprehensive account of bkendi life of the longest ruling fevizu leader in Eastern Europe the original, Albanian-language version was published in after a series of TV programmes by Fevziu in the early s.

The author summarises his goal as painting the portrait of a real person, of what Hoxha was really like 3without exaggeration, unjustified denigration or bias 9. This interpretation may seem exaggerated for an ordinary politician, but Hoxha indeed rose to absolute power, and the system created by him survived beyond the end of his life for some years. Methodologically, the book is based on a multitude of primary sources, some published under communism and others after its end. The Albanian leader, through eighty publications including thirteen volumes of memoirs, set out the main milestones of his life, leaving his biographers with the uphill task of challenging his interpretation of events.

The formerly secret Albanian state archives, open since the early s, add a completely new dimension that puts in context and often challenges the memoirs. Last but not least, the author, as an investigative journalist, gathers important information from people who witnessed some of the events firsthand.

The structure of the book does not strictly follow the life of Hoxha chronologically. It begins with the days before his death in April and ends in Maywhen his remains were transferred to the Tirana municipal cemetery. This process began in the s, when Albania was still under foreign occupation, and ended forty years later after the prime minister, Mehmet Cevziu, committed suicide in I found particularly captivating the chapters of the book in which Hoxha is shown more as a real life person, either through detailing his interactions with his closest friends and family or through his actions on matters relatively apart from pure politics.


Hoxha leads people to the brink of the abyss and hoha suddenly backs off, lending them a helping hand. The example with famous writer Ismail Kadare is telling in this respect. Even though Hoxha had given his blessing, no sooner had the book been published in than a vociferous campaign was unleashed against it and its author. Suddenly Hoxha, without whom this condemnation would have been impossible, unexpectedly rose in defence of Kadare and approved the book, while calling for minor corrections.

Saving Kadare from the trap laid down by Hoxha himself is not unique in the life of the Albanian dictator. Why play with his subjects?

Book review: Enver Hoxha: the iron fist of Albania by Blendi Fevziu

Why show generosity without any political reason? He never discusses the possibility that Hoxha had a comprehensive personality that found its best expression in brutal and generous actions. The book centres on brutality as a norm and presents the generosity as an hozha.

The first part of this statement is hard to challenge, given the mountain of evidence. The second part, however, is questionable, and it will leave readers puzzled and curious to learn more about the man who personified Albania for hosha than forty years.

This book targets the general public, not just specialists on Albania or on communist studies. The writing style does not include technical language and reading is also made easy thanks to the translation provided by Majlinda Nishku.

In addition to the main text, the book includes a chronology of the life of Hoxha, a glossary of key figures, a section of notes, a bibliography and an index. These additional sections will help non-Albanian readers who otherwise may find themselves lost in the sea of names, dates and events.

Comparatively speaking, the communist period in Albania is not well studied within communist studies. To put the research interest toward this country in perspective, only 62 articles mentioning Albania were published in the journal Communist and Post-Communist Studiescompared to on Bulgaria and on Romania, two other Balkan former communist countries.

In this respect, the present book fills a gap regarding communist Albania and provides fresh encouragement for those studying the history and current political developments of the country. Fortunately, this book goes beyond the narrative of bringing yet one more exotic country to modern political science. Albania provides a unique opportunity for comparative analysis of communist countries, an analysis that may jeopardise bounded generalisations regarding the countries from the Soviet bloc.


On a critical note, the book needs to go further beyond the simple accumulation of facts about the late Albanian dictator into the realm of contemporary politics. No doubt Albania, like any other country, wears vestiges of its past. The question that needs to be answered is: The answer may be obvious for Albanian readers who feel these legacies and remember the totalitarian past; it is, however, not obvious for those who have never been to Albania, and especially for those for whom this book represents their first encounter with the country.

Another weakness is letting the facts speak for themselves, a risky endeavour that may mislead readers.

Book Review: Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania by Blendi Fevziu | LSE Review of Books

It would have been wiser to present the facts as illustrations for particular general arguments. In some chapters, for instance on political purges, the topics and arguments seem to overlap. These limitations notwithstanding, the book is a very useful read both for people curious to learn more about Albania, and also for those who will update their knowledge of one of the most mysterious post-communist countries in Europe. Simeon MitropolitskiPhD, teaches courses in political science and methodology at the University of Ottawa.

He is author of over thirty peer-reviewed articles and book reviews. His research interests include post-communist political development, EU integration, political culture, methodology and the state of contemporary political science. Click here to cancel reply. Explore the latest social science book reviews by academics and experts.

Enver Hoxha by Blendi Fevziu

Tirana Souvenir Stand, Albania Andreas Lehner I found particularly captivating the chapters of the book in which Hoxha is shown more as a real life person, either through detailing enevr interactions with his closest friends and family or through his actions on matters relatively apart from pure politics. Previous post Next post.

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