22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing a huge ignorance, very powerful to read
I was a teenager in Britain when the Bosnian war happened and confess that most of it passed me by with a vague memory about the siege of Sarejevo. Yet this book tells the personal stories, including that of the author that make for a very difficult read - at the same time unable to put the book down. In my lifetime and just 7 years before my son was born and 5 before...
Published on 28 April 2012 by Christopher
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A sad tale
Vulliamy writes reasonably well, if somewhat prolix in places. The book has litle continuity and what there is disappears the longer the book goes on. Its subject matter, is, however quite disturbing and the horrors of the conflict are vividly brought out. The dreadful detention camps are a case in point, with former Serb neighbours engaged in a spree of sadistic violence...
Published on 16 Oct 2012 by Mr J Tarbett
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing a huge ignorance, very powerful to read,
I was a teenager in Britain when the Bosnian war happened and confess that most of it passed me by with a vague memory about the siege of Sarejevo. Yet this book tells the personal stories, including that of the author that make for a very difficult read - at the same time unable to put the book down. In my lifetime and just 7 years before my son was born and 5 before before my daughter - there were atrocities of a truly staggering nature happening right on our doorstep. Our neighbours were being slaughtered and we failed to see. Worse still, the suffering continues every day as both neighbours, those directly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from around Europe fail to recognise the horrors of the past and therefore prevent any form of reconciliation. I believe this book should be compulsory reading for our teenage children, lest they ever believe such things couldn't happen in their lifetime. Thank you Ed for writing this book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten war,
I have the feeling that the war in Bosnia have been forgotten by most of the world. This book helps remembering what happened in this beautiful country 20 years ago. It doesn't help understand because I don't think this would be possible.I have been in Bosnia and tried really hard to comprehend what madness made people do what they did. How can neighbor turn against neighbor after decades of harmony. Or maybe it wasn't so happy and harmonious as everybody thought. This book is in fact a memorial to Bosnian Muslims murdered,tortured and raped in the war as they can't build proper memorial in the places where these unspeakable crimes happened to them. It's an angry book. You ca feel it from the words. Mr. Vulliamy is angry and desperate And he should be. People still haven't received justice and the society is deeply divided. I was told by many people in Bosnia that they think that Bosnia is a test. EU and US want to know how long will it take for Bosnians to start killing each other again.That living like they are living now in two entities with politicians preaching nationalistic hate and people losing hope will create war again.
I took one star off cause this book made the entire Serbian people look like war criminals. And yes some of them did commit horrible crimes but it is not correct to judge entire nation in this light. It will take some time for Serbs to come to terms with what these animals did in their name. They are the most important part of the puzzle in Bosnia. The reconciliation can't be done without them.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars important,
This is a very powerful and vital book. I served 2 tours of Bosnia - although this was under SFOR. I felt a strong sense of shame as to what happened and was shocked to discover people peddling the twisted logic of 'equal equivalence'. Indeed I have met both British and Americans who were ill informed or who after 9/11 seem to think that the Serb war against Muslims was in some way vindicated. Manjaca concentration camp was in our AO and I have been to it (after it became a RS Army camp), but it's history was never part of our briefing. This was clearly a war against civilians and how the west never understood this is beyond me. Indeed liberalism in its twisted form led to reasonable behaviour to all sides including the perpetrators. I joined the Army to 'defend' the flock not to invade other countries - so how we could justify the invasion of Iraq but not intervention in Bosnia or Rwanda is beyond me.
This is a very powerful book and Ed Vulliamy covers all aspects of post-conflict aftermath. It is very sad at times and I still feel ashamed at our conduct. I can vouch for the ongoing problems of return for displaced persons and the continuing hostility of the RS to these people. The end of wars are always messy and Vulliamy shows this hidden pain.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading.,
Often we search for explanations of history, but this examines the very real people and events that are so recent. The balance of factual examination and the details of human survival blends the sad, the cruel, the wicked and the inspiried. A story that angers and informs. An essential book that is rewarding and certainly challenged me as to what I thought I knew.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Ed Vuillamy - Truly amazing book,
Thank you, Ed Vuillamy. Thank you for writing this. This book is a revelation and very readable. Frankly I was glued to it.
Interesting, inspiring and immensely moving.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Must Read!,
Ed once again puts his heart and soul into telling the truth about Bosnia and the struggles of its people over that last 20 years. This is a man who has lived through more of the Bosnian war that many Bosnians themselves and who speaks from personal experiences of the trenches and concentration camps, as well as the relationships and bonds he has since formed with the 'charachers' he met along the way. An absolute gem of a book. Fascinating and a real eye opener.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding,
This isn't always an easy read, either as a member of the human race or as a Briton whose government stood by in the face of clear evidence of slaughter until after the election of Blair who engaged in one of his less shameful foreign policy ventures. Vulliamy witnessed the unfurling of the ethnic 'cleansing' (read murder, rape and deportations) of the Bosniak population in Serbia and refused to stand aside as an impartial journalist. This book explores the consequences for some of the victims and the ways that some of them have been able to rebuild their lives, in the face of continuing hostility in Serbia and a general lack of interest in the rest of world. Occasional detours sometimes feel unnecessary, but the book should be considered essential reading.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and brave account of Bosnia after the war demands to be read,
Some books we read for pleasure and amusement, and some to gain insight and knowledge. Some books we feel we should read, but there are some books that we simply must read. Journalist Ed Vulliamy's harrowing and jaw dropping account of the aftermath of the Bosnian War at a distance of twenty years after is such a book.
Vulliamy tellingly compares the Bosnian context to the response of the German nation to its own shameful Nazi past, with its collective awareness of what was done, and fierce determination to remember the full horror of Hitler's 'Final Solution' for the Jewish people. Concentration camps are preserved for posterity so that future generations can bear witness to the full evil of what happened, and hopefully to help such unthinkable atrocities and barbarism from ever recurring. The rest of the world also helped with the process of rehabilitation, barely fifteen years after the end of World War II The Beatles were performing in Hamburg, and Germany has emerged as a strong and democratic nation.
This is all in stark contrast to the same period following the Bosnian conflict. And although this book is about events after the war, they cannot be recounted without making reference, in shocking detail, to some of the bone chillingly sadistic and cruel episodes which took place during it. Nazi style concentration camps sprung up, in a Western European nation which not long before had hosted the Winter Olympics, to house the 'ethnically cleansed' Bosnian Muslims after their houses were burned down and many of their number were slaughtered. Vulliamy reveals in great detail, from his own personal experience during the conflict, how the outside world at best ignored the existence of these camps, and at worst colluded in covering them up.
Rape and torture of horrific kinds were routinely committed, and many of the prisoners were forced to commit unspeakable acts on each other for the amusement of their captors. Genocide is not a word to be used lightly, but there is no other way to describe the actions of the Serbian army under President Slobodan Milosević and his henchman General Radovan Karadzić.
And all the more shocking is the failure to come to terms with what was done, despite war crimes trials in The Hague. Today Bosnian Muslims cannot grieve at national shrines and try to come to terms with what was done to them. There are no monuments - the Serbians won't agree to them being built, and anyway many of the more barbarous acts are denied, despite the evidence of thousands of Bosnian Muslim bodies being painstakingly sifted through to be able to give their remaining families some way of mourning them. And woman have to face their rapists across the street every day, either having served a short term in jail, or many going unpunished for their crimes.
But aside from these frankly deeply depressing realities, the stories of the people that Vulliamy has come to know are brilliant reminders of how such conflict touches families and individuals, as well as nations. One particularly heart-warming detail is that of the Manchester City star striker Edin Dzeko, who is nothing short of a Bosnian national hero for his fierce pride in his nation and refusal to adopt citizenship of other much more glamorous footballing nations when he had the chance. As a City fan myself, it is pleasing to know that some of our pampered stars have principles and loyalty that have nothing to do with riches, and that such qualities cannot be bought.
Vulliamy's own part in helping to publicise the existence of the concentration camps, and in acting as a witness in The Hague is distinguished and to be applauded. As is his determination to continue to make the world sit up and take note of what is still happening today through this brilliant and brave book. It frankly demands to be read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this,
Thank you Ed for writing a book which explains to me - as much as anyone can - what happened in Bosnia. I have tried to untangle it for years. The horror is nonetheless for being unravelled. This book tells not what happened, but what has happened since, and how the international community turned its back on genocide. And how twenty years on people STILL try to claim that it was vastly exaggerated.
A vital book, handling a hideous subject with grace: it is never gratuitous and all the more powerful because of it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but unputdownable,
It goes without saying that this was the war the west would prefer to forget, and the Serbs will be happy about that. Yes atrocities were committed on all sides, but the Serbs took it to another level, with their extermination camps and rape camps, one wonders if the Serbs had access to mobile gas vans,(as used by the Nazi's )they would quite have happily used them, then denied their existence, even when the evidence was overwhelming.
One of the most galling aspects of this horrendous conflict must be some peoples attitude that all sides were as guilty as each other, this is a patent untruth, and is as depressing and frustrating as it is wrong. Also the deniers who state that Omarska and other camps were sorts of holding camps for refugees is nothing short of sickening. I am an admirer of Noam Chomsky and I am amazed at his denial of Vulliamy's story. (The less said of the now defunct rag Living Marxism the better).
Vulliamy does get caught up in the emotion and gets very personally involved, if he didn't the book would not have been as powerful. Vulliamy took severe critiscism from other journalists for the way he got involved in this story, as journalists jobs are to report the truth as they see it, without getting personally involved.
The most frightening aspect that permeates the book is that the conflict could erupt again, the Serbs are in complete denial of their Genocide, and should never be invited to join the E.U. until they own up to the atrocities they have committed, and tell everyone, not least the Bosnian Muslims where the thousands of bodies that still lie in mass graves are buried, then and only then can people start to grieve, as they give their people a decent burial.
Another disgraceful aspect of this conflict is the refusal to have a permanent commemorative monument on the site of the Omarska camp, which is a steel mine owned and operated by the Arcelor Mittal corporation, who shamefully neglected their responsibilities by saying it was up to the local community (mainly Serbian) if they would have a permanent monument to the atrocities committed there. Mr Mittall, a very generous labour donor should hang his head in shame.
This book in the main is very harrowing, but not gratuitously so, and is deserving of a wider audience.
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The War is Dead, Long Live the War: Bosnia: the Reckoning by Ed Vulliamy (Paperback - 4 April 2013)