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Djilas, Milovan

Djilas, Milovan mē´ləvän jē´läs [key], 1911–95, Yugoslav political leader and writer, b. Montenegro. A Communist party member from 1932, he helped Josip Broz Tito organize volunteers to fight in the Spanish civil war . He was active in the Yugoslav resistance in World War II and after the war rose to high posts in party and government. As a top political adviser to Tito and an outspoken critic of Russian attempts to bring Yugoslavia into the Soviet orbit, he was widely regarded as a possible successor to Tito. In 1954 he was about to assume the presidency when he was abruptly dismissed from government service. His support of the Hungarian revolution (1956) brought him a prison term, extended in 1957 when his influential book criticizing the Communist oligarchy, The New Class, was published in the West (it was not published in Yugoslavia until 1988). Released in 1961, Djilas was jailed again in 1962–66. Among his many other works are Land without Justice (1958, repr. 1972), Conversations with Stalin (tr. 1962), The Unperfect Society (tr. 1969), Tito (1980), Of Prison and Ideas (tr. 1986), Fall of the New Class (1998), and a novel, Under the Colors (tr. 1971). Although Djilas, the Communist regime's most important dissident, enthusiastically welcomed the end of party rule in Yugoslavia, he also was critical of both Croat and Serb nationalism.

See his Memoir of a Revolutionary (tr. 1973).

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