As a reporter for the prestigious New York Times the author interviewed many of the leading political figures of the Balkans (Illyria, as called in classical antquity). He also sought out the area's intellectuals, not all of whom toed the government line, and whose comments give the reader a sense of how life was lived in those times. Binder devotes a chapter to each ethnic group from Vlachs to Serbs, talks about their individual differences and commonalities, and manages to do so without offense. Also includes a short historical account of the various places he visits which broadens the reader's exposure to local culture and heightens his understanding. A comprehensive yet concise account of the cultural and political situation in the Balkans during the last three decades of the Cold War (1960-1990). Fare Well, Illyria sums up the author's thorough knowledge of the political and cultural history of the Balkans as well as his personal experience gained over four decades covering the region.
The reader comes across people from all walks of life: politicians, poets, literary and art critics, journalists, handymen, car mechanics, fishermen, farmers - From Milovan Djilas and Nicolae Ceausescu to Sali Berisha or the Serbian "majstor" Misha and the un-named Bosnian bar singer, Binder's book features a remarkable gallery of people whose presence contributes to the sense of authenticity and human warmth of the narrative.