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Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street Paperback – 5 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847084117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847084118
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

An atmospheric description of ordinary life - and death - during the siege of Sarajevo. --Sunday Telegraph

Demick, the author of Nothing to Envy, a great book about North Korea, also spent time in Sarajevo, when the city was besieged. I d heard a lot about this event, but never quite understood it, until now. Demick brings it to life. A modern European city is cut off from the world. It sits in a gorge; snipers surround it, firing on the citizens. Mortar shells fall out of the sky ... Amazing. --Evening Standard

A vivid and often searing record of the lives of the inhabitants of a single street in a capital city under siege from Serb snipers and artillery fire. --New Statesman

About the Author

Barbara Demick's coverage of the war in Sarajevo won the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. She is now a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she has reported from the Middle East and South Korea. In 2010 she won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea. She is currently based in Beijing.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Maric on 8 April 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the fascinating true story of 10 families living on one street in Sarajevo, Logavina Street, during the siege. Demick certainly chose a great street - Logavina Street was home to Muslim, Croat and Serb families, including a couple of mixed families. It was also home to one of Sarajevo's most famous Serbs, General Jovan Divjak, a man who identified himself as an `Orthodox Bosnian' and who left the Yugoslav People's Army to defend the city he loved by helping build the fledgling Bosnian Army.

This book provides countless quotidian details about life during the siege as well as detailing the people of Sarajevo's courage, endurance and black humour (for example, one of the bleakest jokes of that bleak time, after the besiegers cut off the gas many Sarajevans relied upon for cooking and heating, was: What's the difference between Sarajevo and Auschwitz? Answer: Auschwitz had gas.) The book also includes siege recipes, for example, for meatless schnitzels (basically, grind up some stale bread, shape it into patties and fry it).

In this edition, Demick returns to Sarajevo in 2011 and catches up with the surviving residents of Logavina Street, as well as offering a sober assessment of Bosnia's future. Throughout the book, Demick's depictions of the people she interviews are sensitive and insightful. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ginny W on 24 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting and thought provoking to read about what people under siege have to live though to survive. Also about the very real danger that any moment you or someone you love might be killed, seemingly arbitrarily. However. The contents of the book to me lack real planning and flow. One moment it's this, then it's that. One family, then another, then back to the first family? Or is it? Being unfamiliar with the language structure, people's names become little more than semi-familiar patterns in the text and it got very confusing about who was who, had they had part of the narrative previously, how? Also seemed to jump around all over the place in terms of topic.
For me, I needed more signposting by timeline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moggiemiss on 29 Oct. 2013
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I bought this book as i had enjoyed Barbara Demick's book on North Korea. I found that as well as giving me more insight into the Bosnian/Serbian war, it showed the impact on the people who lived there and how difficult it was for civilians living in Sarajevo. As it is based on a collection of articles, there is some duplication of bits of information which could have been avoided with better editing but for all that it is well written and you commect with the people she writes about,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By riley36 on 16 May 2013
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I am a really big fan of the author due to her book "nothing to envy" about North Korea. This book was another well written account of life in Bosnia when the terrible conflict was going on. I would recommend the book for anyone who is looking to understand the impact the war had on families and the wider communities and how the conflict left societies view on each other. It took me days to read because I couldn't put it down. Excellent
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By Marguerite on 15 May 2013
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I'm visiting Sarajevo this year so was interested in this account of how residents survived the seige of the early 1990s. While the author pays tribute to their courage and endurance, and clearly empathises deeply with them, she just does not bring them to life as three-dimensional characters. I had to keep looking back at the "dramatis personae" list at the beginning of the book, to remind myself who was who! Her style is very flat and too much like unimaginative reportage. If you compare this book with Katherine Boo's fully-realised portrait of a troubled community in "Behind the Beautiful Forevers", it's very disappointing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JuliaC VINE VOICE on 3 Jun. 2012
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It has always been an incredible thought for me that a relatively well developed city like Sarajevo, which only ten years prior to the war with Serbian was hosting stars like Torville and Dean in the Winter Olympics, was subjected to a horrifying siege for forty four months. American journalist Barbara Demick has just published an intimate account of the events of that time, through the experiences of the residents of a single street in the Bosnian capital. And her account of exactly what it was like to live through the siege in Logavina Street brings the horrors of war to life in a way no normal historical or political account could do.

Logavina Street is six blocks long, and at the time of the siege housed mainly Muslim families, although people from all ethnic backgrounds also lived there. Demick spent a couple of years amongst the people there, and tells from firsthand experience how their homes and lives were shattered by the incessant bombardment from Serbian guns in the hills around the city. It is also a story of proud resistance, as the inhabitants developed ingenious strategies to get by, and refused to give into the Serbian bullies.

Each day was a constant battle to get the basic necessities for living, like power, water, and what food could be had, which was not much at all. Some people managed to escape, most chose to stay and fight. And some of the little details here are the most powerful, like the women who made sure they went out with their hair dyed and make up in place, before dodging the snipers' bullets. Recounting such small acts of defiance are what makes this book an extraordinary read.

It's also shocking to read again about how long the Serbian army was allowed to continue to massacre the civilians of Sarajevo, while other nations looked on.
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