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A Village Destroyed, May 14, 1999: War Crimes in Kosovo [Paperback]

4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 July 2002
On a warm spring morning in 1999, in the midst of NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia, Serbian security and paramilitary forces descended on the small village of Cuska, near the western Kosovo city of Pec. Soldiers with painted faces and masks rounded up the population and forced them to assemble in the center of the village. The women, children, and elderly were separated from any men who had not managed to flee. The villagers were threatened and robbed of their money, jewellery, and identification papers. Twenty-nine men were divided into three groups and taken into three separate houses, where they were sprayed repeatedly with automatic weapons. Each house was then set on fire and left to burn. This gripping investigative account of the massacre establishes the truth of what happened in Cuska, deepens our understanding of war crimes, and sheds light on the world of paramilitaries who carry out mass killings of civilians in the name of the state. The events in Cuska are emblematic of the destruction of hundreds of other villages throughout Kosovo. But in this case there was a difference: in each of the three groups of men there was one survivor who managed to crawl from each of the burning houses. They, and many others present that day, told their stories to Human Rights Watch, a research and advocacy organization that monitors abuses in more than seventy countries around the world. Fred Abrahams scanned into his laptop photographs of Serbian security forces apparently left behind when they withdrew from Kosovo, and showed them to victims, who identified the perpetrators. With an essay by Eric Stover and a collection of arresting photographs by Gilles Peress of the exile and return of Kosovar Albanians to their homes and villages, this book presents a riveting, multifaceted story of unmatched depth and complexity. A final section of 'self-portraits' taken by Serbian troops and paramilitaries holds the key to understanding how Serb forces were able to overrun so much territory in so little time.

Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (24 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520233034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520233034
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 22.9 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,446,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The reports of victims and survivors, as recorded by Human Rights Watch, are combined to great effect with Peress's stunning photographs."--"Doubletake magazine

About the Author

Fred Abrahams is a senior researcher and Carroll Bogert is Communications Director for Human Rights Watch. Eric Stover is Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Gilles Peress is a photographer for the New Yorker and a senior research associate at the Human Rights Center.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a valuable document 15 Oct 2011
The book is complete - no jottings or tears, or some other kind of damage except the signs of wear and a rather unpleasant smell (but not too aggressive), which comes from the book being left in some damp place. As I ordered it for research purpose, I am quite happy with what I've got! Good value for its low price!
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4.0 out of 5 stars good view of awful moment in history 13 Oct 2002
This book told a compelling story of the destruction and terror the Kosovar Albanians suffered at the hands of the Serbs in 1999. The author gave a very informative and sympathetic view of what took place, without forgetting that ultimately it was not his story to tell.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organized Madness 16 Sep 2004
By N. P. Stathoulopoulos - Published on Amazon.com
This book is about one single village in Kosovo and the case against those who destroyed it. The book is broken down into sections about The Victims, The Perpetrators, The Plan, etc. From a roll of undeveloped film found in a field we see pictures and self-portraits of the Serb paramilitary men who wreaked havoc on this small pocket of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

This event occured well into that war, making one wonder. The majority of the real 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo occured after NATO decided to bomb the place to smithereens in a 'humanitarian' intervention that still doesn't make much sense. Milosevic's indictment for Kosovo mostly contains charges of war crimes after the bombing started, making one really wonder about the 'Clinton Doctrine'--literally provoke bad guys into doing worse, and then squash them (and the whole country). Noam Chomsky had a good simile for the 'humanitarian' intervention as practiced in Kosovo: it's like watching someone getting mugged in the street, and instead of stopping it, you pick up a rifle and kill everyone--criminal, victim, and bystander.

What's also striking of course, is the suggestion (and common knowledge) that there are many men like the ones being accused here. One of the uglier lessons here is that if you want to be effective at terrorizing a people, you go out and hire professional criminals. There is fascinating testimony from men who were recruited for the 'Lightning' (Munja) paramilitary brigade, or Arkan's 'Tigers'. In a Dirty Dozen-type way of doing things, criminals were recruited from jails to become professional ethnic cleansers, since you just don't get the same results from a conscript army.

Lots of brutal images, a reverent book. Should be read with some knowledge of the war to form a better opinion.
5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War Crimes in Kosovo 6 Feb 2003
By Kosovar - Published on Amazon.com
May 19, 1999, A Village Destroyed, hundreds of Kosovars are captured in JUST ONE, OF THE KOSOVA villages, by the serbian thieves,criminals,put out of prison "people" wearing police and army uniforms - they get all their valuables then they kill all men just to burn their bodies afterwards. Luckily, two men survive the "Lightning" gang policemans" bullets as they were meant to find themselves under somebody elses body...
Shocking true stories from Kosovar victims...
Even more shocking confessions by "Lightning" gangs...showing in details what they have done in this village...Their confessions will make you play a detective and search for them in any way possible because after all their crimes against humanity they are still roaming some country's streets and of course they are considered dangerous...anti humans.
After all, the book is so informative and honest. This book is on the TRUTH's side - the so many photographs and HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH proves it. You'll finish it in one breath.
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