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, 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.