Historian Ivo Banac called Montenegro a "stone wilderness, whose forests, meadows and wildlife had been ravaged almost to nothing over the centuries by hungry highland clans and their herds." Besides being poor, Montenegrins also had the reputation of being wild. Tennyson celebrated this wildness in a 19th century sonnet, praising these "smallest among peoples! Rough rock-throne of Freedom!"
However, deeply engrained traditions of blood feuds were a curse, not a cause of celebration, for most Montenegrins. Milovan Djilas, the Stalinist turned Yugoslav dissident in the 1950s, wrote in his autobiography "Land without Justice" about his own family:
"The men of several generations have died at the hands of Montenegrins… generation after generation and the bloody chain was not broken. The inherited fear and hatred of feuding clans was mightier than fear and hatred of the enemy, the Turks. It seems to me that I was born with blood on my eyes. My first sight was of blood. My first words were blood and bathed in blood."