A scholar unafraid of a good turn of phrase is a welcome thing, albeit rare. Dr Bechev is a scholar and has a good turn of phrase. His expertise guides us through what is a thicket of events, dates, underlying trends, and acronyms, but just when, at times, the going becomes difficult a turn of phrase chops through the text and opens up his train of thought. Some of the detail seems unnecessary but is leavened by the occasional anecdote.