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Big Thoughts are Free

The Authorized Biography of Milan Panic

Mark Axelrod

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Chapter 2. A Yugoslavian Context (1918–1929)


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“A long time ago I said: ‘Wherever I go, I want to be at the top: I never disavowed that rule. I, the little immigrant from Serbia … number one” (http://milanpanić.com/quotes.htm). Such a comment would not be unusual for Milan Panić. Nor would the quote, “I speak correctly phonetically, but I just do it in my own way.” Or, from Milan Panić’s Serbian Dream, “Wealth is what you have in your heart, in your soul, not in gold or bank books. Whoever is not rich in his soul is poor” (Vukotić, 2013). These are but a few quotes in a rich tapestry of quotes that have transpired over eight decades of life for Milan Panić. From the rubble-strewn streets of Belgrade to the freeways of Orange County, the life of Milan Panić has been one of turmoil and tragedy as well as success and failure, but the things that are the most significant about his life are his determination and his courage, which, as Hemingway once wrote, is “grace under fire.” For surely, in his 85 years, Milan Panić has dealt with grace under fire, which, one can argue, has been the reason not only for his success in business and in politics, but also in life. But before one delves into the details of the life of Milan Panić, one needs to place him in a historical context and to do that...

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