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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trouble with the Balkans
This literary masterpiece is mandatory reading in Bosnian schools. Readers who wish to enjoy the literary prose should feel free to take pleasure in the spectacular writing style without concerning themselves of the politics of the turbulent Balkans.
Those who wish to have a snap shot understanding of the history of the Balkans will find it in the small village near...
Published on 15 Dec 2005 by Shaun Bradbury

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
We read this book for our book group and it received very mixed opinions, from those who absolutely loved it to those, like me, who found it a bit of a slog. There were some moments of excitement and interest when the action picked up pace, but to me it felt like a jog through the history of a bridge, purporting to be a novel. The bridge is the central character and, like...
Published 11 months ago by Lelly


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing History of a Divided Land, 31 Mar 2013
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
Awarded the Nobel prize this history of Vizegrad and the bridge there tells the story of 300 years of life in the Bosnian town, up to 1914, when parts of the bridge were blown up. He blends real history and real characters with tales taken from each period in these times. The characters - of different nationality and faith - testify to an enduring belief in humanity, despite acts of cruelty and repression as different powers ebb and flow across the region. It is in effect a collection of short stories, each in itself complete, and moving and extraordinarily well-crafted, but also showing the changes in society, economy and culture (and their imprinting on individual human beings) as the years rolled by. Andric wrote it while living in occupied Belgrade in 1941-44. So while for him 1914 represented the end of something, also the events of the Second War no doubt coloured his views. More poignantly the wars of the 1990s and tore apart the town, the scene of appalling massacres. Thousands died [3000 of a population of 20,000] - virtually all Moslems. The bridge was the site for many executions. Vizegrad is now part of the Serbian Republic. No Moslems live there now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bridge to the history of the Balkans, 12 Dec 2011
By 
jacr100 "jacr100" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
The titular bridge was built in the now-Bosnian town of Visegrad by the Ottomans in the 16th century. A crucial connecting point in the empire, and a feat of engineering, it stands unflinching against time and bears witness to the gentle unfolding of both the familiar and the exceptional stories that make up lives and legend.

Andric captures characters superbly. In a few sentences he allows us to implicitly understand motivations and emotions that resound with truth. There are moments of polished and learned insight in his observation and description throughout the novel.

Generations, nations and religions meet on the bridge. There is no protagonist, no overarching story. We experience pieces of many lives, and by the final pages you feel as if you know the town, the history of the place and particularly the bridge personally. The stone arches and kapia somehow feel nostalgically close to you.

I'm going to have to go and walk along this bridge.

Style: 8/10
Structure: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Depth: 8/10
Unputdownability: 7/10
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Islamophobic! Beautiful account, fact and fiction intertwined, 15 Jan 2008
By 
A. L. Stannard (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
Its a bit ridiculous to state that this book is Islamophobic - it isn't Andric's fault that the Ottoman empire was at times very brutal! It is clear the person who wrote that never read more than the first couple of chapters. By the time you get halfway through the book, you see the transformation in the region (Visegrad), how the Turkish and Bosnians lived peacefully side-by-side, how the elders met to discuss and try to solve problems - toegther. Andric reminds us that ultimately, the only constant in the world is change. No sooner have the Turks and Christians settled together into a more-or-less tranquil existence than the Austo-Hungarian empire steps in. Throughout 4 centuries, many changes take place against the backdrop of the Bridge, and we are treated to many old tales that take place along the kapia, some of romance, some of foolishness (or perhaps both in equal measure) - many based on old tales propagated throughout the region, each peppered with some truth, with some imagination thrown in, but serve to illustrate the lives that once lived there.

I read this book about 10 years ago when I was seeing a girl from this region - she actually bought this book for me - and I couldn't put it down - with a constant glow in my heart, half from the lines penned by Andric (once the nasty impaling chapter was out of the way!) and half from the tender moments I experienced myself in the region. One wonders what Andric would have made of the goings-on on the Kapia post-Tito in the early nineties - corrupt politicians on all sides creating and exploiting socio-religous boundries, stirring up racial hatred, and all the while stealing money from the state treasury, and perhaps worse, to have Europe on the doorstep - and British soliders with the potential to help being dictated to by Belgian Burocrats not to intervene and protect any citizens, because removing them from imminent death and guarding them in a compound would technically (on paper) be contributing to ethinic cleansing. Even with his imagination, not even Andric himself couldn't invent such madness to write about. But even that is now a blip in the history of the region, for perhaps a future Andric to write about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea, 13 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
We read this book for our book group and it received very mixed opinions, from those who absolutely loved it to those, like me, who found it a bit of a slog. There were some moments of excitement and interest when the action picked up pace, but to me it felt like a jog through the history of a bridge, purporting to be a novel. The bridge is the central character and, like all bridges, doesn't really develop as a personality. However, it won the Nobel Prize so must have something going for it, but not for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, Nobel-Prize winning literature, 8 April 2013
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
This book, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, is essentially the centuries-long tale of the Mehmed Pasha Bridge that today still spans the River Drina in the Bosnian town of Visegrad (after having been destroyed in WW1 and rebuilt). It is also, of course, the story of the people ― the Turks, Austrians, Serbs, Croats, Muslims and more ― who live and die on and around the bridge. The story begins with the bridge's construction in the sixteenth century when Visegrad was ruled by the Ottoman Turks and continues up until the events that precipitated World War One, and therefore provides a wide-ranging view of Bosnia's troubled, tumultuous history. Not only is this book heartbreaking and filled with richly fascinating characters, the translation into English from the original Serbo-Croat also reads beautifully. A wonderful novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazingly evocative writing, 21 April 2011
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
not exactly a novel, more a series of stories following the 'life' of a Bosnian bridge over 350 years. The book starts with its construction in 1500s, a project of several years where the Turkish overseers conscript the locals into slave labour culminating in the awful description of the impalement of a worker who rebels by sabotaging the bridge. Then Andric takes us through the centuries; the flood when local leaders of all faiths gather in the same house in a heartwarming episode. Yet with the change in frontiers and arrival of Turkish refugees from Serbia, the uncertainty of life is ever in the background. The Austro-Hungarian occupation comes, locals dispute whether or not to resist, a guard commits suicide after failing to do his job properly. Life becomes wealthier, and in 1900s the young have time to discuss politics. In the last chapter world war 1 hits the town as a bomb smashes the bridge; this is told from the perspective of a man in a shop and is such evocative writing you feel you are there. Brilliant book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural bridge, 14 Jan 2009
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
The bridge is a brilliant device for a novel about conflicting and cohabiting cultures. What stood out were the scenes of cruelty matched with highly organized destruction. A humane book.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why the Muslims are called Turks, 16 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
In order to understand why the author called Bosniacs, the Turks you have to know more about Bosnian history. At the time the plot is happening nations where not the way people devevided. You could say that nations didn't exist, so the only way people devided was by religion. One could say that only difference between Serbs, Croates and Bosnians was that thay are Ortodox, Catolic and Muslim respectively.
In those times Turks were occuping Bosnia for 450 years so they were not very popular among the "raja" (non-muslim people). Also muslim people CALLED THEMSELVES "Turks" so it was not pejorative name for them. At that time there were no "Bosnian Muslims" but only Turks and raja (others) and from the point of view of raja (and the author) Turks were of course not popular becouse of atroccities thay did to raja. Some raja become muslim in order to be spared and in minds other raja-people this was not honorable thing to do.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding piece of European literature, 13 Feb 2005
By 
Gogol (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
The author of this book is almost a perfect example of the Balkans. A Croat from Bosnia who is now fought over by all sides of the ethnic divide its almost as if what he actually wrote is forgotten.

This is a remarkable book. It is not simply a historical novel the personal lives of the people under Ottoman rule, the building of the bridge, originally a gift to the people there along with a hostel for travellers. How the Muslim population at first welcomed its construction only to have second thoughts when they realised just how much effort and burden it would put on the population to construct. The Serb rebels who try to demolish the bridge and the terrible punishment that their leader suffered when caught. How over the centuries the bridge became a focal point in the city and how the lives of the people changed due to outside events out of their control (The collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of the great powers of Europe) There is one beautiful passage in this book when the Muslim population of the town wake up to find the borders of the Ottoman Empire had suddenly been redrawn hundreds of miles away and how they looked over the new map of the Balkans trying to make sense of it all.

My only complaint (and it is a small one) is why on earth did the translator refer to the Muslims as 'Turks' when (and if you read the book closely its even more obvious) they were so clearly not!
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6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Work of fiction disguised as history, 25 Nov 2011
This review is from: Bridge Over The Drina (Paperback)
Once mandatory read in ex-YU schools, this novel is just another piece of greater-Serbian propaganda, perhaps most famous ever written. Work of pure fiction, shallowly disguised as historical writing. Andric's hatred of everything muslim is well known and documented and this "masterpiece" was just another attempt at it. Sad fact is, when he wasn't writing about seemingly endless suffering of Serbs in Bosnia, Andric had not much else to write about, which just proves how limited writer he was. Ivo Andric comes from school of 19th century Serbian nationalistic writing, but somehow ends up being hailed as one of great writers of 20th century!?
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Bridge Over The Drina
Bridge Over The Drina by Ivo Andric (Paperback - 5 April 1994)
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