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Trusted Mole: A Soldier's Journey into Bosnia's Heart of Darkness
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2009
This has to be the best piece of writing by far covering the Balkan Conflict. Having served in Sarajevo durng this time with the UN Civilan Police I can assure you everything Stankovic writes is authentic and right on the mark. I had always hoped to never forget my experiences in Sarajevo but placed them in a "drawer" that I seldom visited. Soon after cracking this book the sounds, the smells, the people,the futlity,and the danger all came back. Any book that can accomplish this is a tribute to the author.
Stankovic covers the back room deals, the absolute ineptitude of the U.N leadership and most of all the suffering endured by the "the little people". Sarajevo was a dangerous place not only because of the conflict, but also because foreign intelligence services used it as an operational training ground. These services operated behind the scenes but always ended up at the PTT looking for assistance from the same people they were cutting off at the knees. There is no doubt in my mind it was through such people Milos Stankovic met his demise.
This book should be required reading for any member of the military, police,or a civilian contemplating working in an area of conflict.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2010
This book should, along with Martin Bell's 'In Harm's Way', be recommended reading for anyone with an interest in the Bosnian war. The author, a British officer of Serbian background, went out to the Balkans as an interpreter for UNPROFOR and came face-to-face with a nigh-on impossible situation in which he was expected to deal with the top brass on all sides - negotiating cease-fires and the release of UN hostages while organising the clandestine evacuation of civilians from a city under constant siege against a background of ruthless civil war and shifting alliances in which even the unity of the UN mission was questionable to say the least. As my old unversity tutor pointed out, nothing in the former Yugoslavia can ever be seen in black-and-white terms; there are only varying shades of grey - and this account more than backs that up.

If I have any criticism, it is the lack of detail given to Stankovic's ordeal at the hands of the morally cowardly MoD, who ruined his military career by arresting him on the evidently pretty vague suspicion of being a spy for the Bosnian Serbs. For this alone, the people in charge of this country's military should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for what they did to a very brave man.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2000
There are few books that will hold me rivetted from beginning to end. There are even fewer that will do this for my wife. But 'Trusted Mole' has held us both spellbound. This is Milos Stankovic's extraordinary story of the insanity of the Bosnian war, and his own entanglement in that insanity. The madness that faced this British Army officer - a Brit of Serbian and Celtic grandparentage - followed Stankovic home to the UK and... well, you had better read his story to find out. If it weren't true I would dismiss it all as Walter Mitty tosh, or at best as a conspiracy theory dreamt up by someone deeply warped by the paranoia of Bosnia mind games. The story begins with Stankovic's arrest in October 1997 by the British MOD police, the start of a sorry sage that even now is not over. Accused - but never charged- with giving information to the Serbs, Stankovic used the following 2.5 years to explore in book form the background to his expulsion from the British Joint Services Command and Staff College and the collapse of what promised to be a glittering military career. The product - Trusted Mole- is an answer to his accusers. Let's hope they have the wherewithal to understand it. Profoundly honest, Stankovic's tale is one of great power which informs simultaneously on moral, physical and political planes. Like Conrad's Kurtz, Stankovic went on a journey to man's heart of darkness and was recoiled by the horror of his discovery: unlike Kurtz, however, Stankovic retained the balance of his mind and comes back from his journey a better-and stronger - man. Politically, the book reveals in fascinating detail just how decisions were made during the Balkan war - by all sides - and how preconceived ignorance dominated Western particularly American) approaches to the conflict. Indeed it appears that it was the Americans, long the bed-fellows of the Bosnian Muslims, who arranged for Stankovic to be arrested in the first place. In the black and white, good guy versus bad guy myopia of the American strategic perspective, the Muslims were the cowboys and the Serbs were the Indians. The story does not appear to be over with the final page, however. More of this story needs to be told. Why was he arrested? It certainly can't have been worth a ruined career, the public opprobrium (a la Tomlinson and Shayler)of being accused of betraying national security, and the apparent overturning of the right- in the UK at least -to be considered innocent until proven guilty. An absorbing story, a rivetting read and another installment in the offing, I hope. Shed a tear or two in the reading of it for Stankovic: few books will let you do this unashamedly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2000
I had always thought that it was music that evoked the strongest memories of situations past and experiences that had staled over time. Until I read Trusted Mole that is.
In his powerful account of his time in Bosnia, Milos recounts much that I have often wondered about since I served with him in Sarajevo. While the details are new to me, his commentary brings a first real understanding of what was afoot in those dark days. However it is his uncanny ability to recreate the atmosphere of the country that set the hairs of my neck on end. I recognised in his descriptions so much of what I too had felt and experienced. While I can never vouch for the details, the atmosphere he creates is uncannily realistic - a true reflection of the hopelessness and frustration felt by so many people on all sides of the conflict.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2013
...and I don't use that line lightly, I've read a few; some good, some bad, some brilliant, some ok.

Having spent time in Bosnia during the war, a war that left a mark on me that's branded on to brain to this day, I read this book and others from the war numerous times since I left, but this one makes the most sense to me (maybe because it's written by a soldier in a language I understand).

Forget the politics, goodies v baddies and press pack or many Governments, NATO or UN that played literally with people's lives in that war for agenda's good and bad, this book nails it for me.

The confusion, the ridiculous-ness, the "why am I here" or "Is this what humanity is capable of" feelings Milos Stankovic brings to the tale over what happened in Europe in the 90s is right up there with the best I've read. No, it's the most extrodinary story I've read. Ever.

Milos was caught between his family history and what he was trained/conditioned to do as a British soldier and his unique insight in to the Serb language or mentality meant he could only be used as a tool to what the British Army felt he could best offer to their effort. If I was a General Rose or any of the UNPROFOR commanders I'd order him to my side instantly as well.

That the UK MoD shafted him, arrested him, wrecked his career, for it (without ever convicting him) makes the story double whammy.

A pawn, used and abused when it suited, arrested and charged when it suited, makes me sick but does not surprise me from UK FCO or MoD.

One of the most honest accounts I've read of UK soldiers on ops. No Andy McNab playing the superhero card, it's a story many should read thinking of joining Sandhurst.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2009
My copy of Trusted Mole, is now covered in red ink and pencil marks. I have consulted it on numerous occasions in recent years and every time I read it I am struck by the power and honesty of the words. This is not just one of the best personal accounts of the conflict in Former Yugoslavia - it is THE best of the lot by a mile - and I concur completely with the view that it should be mandatory reading for both military and civilian students of the period. For those who never set foot in the Balkans during the war Stankovic gives a unique insight into what it is was really like trying to survive, and do some good, in total chaos. For those who did, he brings the perception, deception and downright dishonesty of it all sharply back into focus. No more than many others Milos Stankovic is also a victim of the Yugoslav conflict and he will carry that burden with him for the rest of his life. That makes his story invaluable, and more so because it is also reflective of thousands of other similar personal forgotten tragedies which nobody cares about anymore. Buy the hard back edition - you will read it over and over again!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2004
I have read most of the first hand accounts coming from late 20th century British Soldiers of all ranks from all theatres, but i have to say this is one of the best. I knew little of the Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia prior to reading this book, and Milos writes in a style that is honest, easy for the layman to follow, yet detailed enough in a Conflict of such complicated issues and is one small window into the soul of late 20th Century European War....shocking?? Yes.....educational?? Definitely....One of the best Soldier accounts i have ever read
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2001
The very fact that you are reading this suggests that you are considering buying this book.
Whatever your interest in the subject matter, be it in a specific area of the conflict, Bosnia or perhaps the wider Balkans,or be it just a desire to acquire a damn good read that contains action, suspense, drama, irony etc. etc. then deliberate no more. Buy this book.
Even if you have no interest in the subject matter at all and happened upon this title by some quirk of fate, buy it anyway.
As a Royal Marines captain I served in Sarajevo as a UN Military Observer at the same time as the author in 1993, our paths crossed on one or two occassions. Reading Stankovic's book has given me sleepless nights for the first time in years as he re-awakened some of the now buried memories of that astonishing period of my life.
This is as good and as real as it gets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2000
For those who would like to know who was who in the Balkan conflicts, this reading is important. It is very rare to find one book containing humour, honesty bordering on naïveté, details of major personalities who played significant roles on conflicting sides and in mediation. It is also a human story for the writer who, for a young major in the British army, bears his soul to readers in ways which most of us can relate to and learn from. If you are not military in nature and don't know the levels of command or are not sharp with acronyms; read on. These fall into place.
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on 18 April 2008
This is definitely one of the best books ever written on the Bosnian conflict and it does represent relatively most authentic version of events.Mr Stankovic reminded me on those horrible times when we all decent people in ex Yu felt like "little people". The Pandora box with all the horrors of war and evil was opened by some very selfish and irresponsible people and as a consequence there was a widespread suffering of thousands of people on all sides of the conflict. What Mr Stankovic did capture in this book is a pure absurdity of the war in Bosnia and as someone from the neighbouring country who was indirectly involved I cannot feel nothing but betrayal and bitterness to those who were meant to protect "little people" and failed it big time.
This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to explore the war absurdity and destruction which arises from it. It would be great to get the after trial version of events. What happened to Mr Stankovic at the end with him being accused for spying for the "Dark Side" seems unfortunately like a natural after war version of events. He himself became "collateral damage" for the same army and country he served for. It always seems easier for the post-blame to be shifted to the "little people" in the army or elswhere. They usually don't have the power or means to defend themselves from the very greedy and powerful ones. And very simple Mr Stankovic was used by the army until he was needed and then they "washed away" or distance themselves from the Dark Side by throwing someone who cannot inflict great damage to them to the lions.
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