Madness Visible: A Memoir of a War Hardcover – 19 Jan 2004
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Times' senior foreign correspondent, Janine di Giovanni's Madness Visible is powerful, dramatic and tragic. War is often as absurd as it is brutal, as squalid and meaningless as it is destructive. As Giovanni says, "[h]alf of a soldier's life is boredom. The other half is unexpected." Whilst this is often heartbreaking reportage (which should be read if only to further bring home the horror of a war that raged in at the end of the 20th century in the middle of Europe) it is not a great book if the reader is seeking deeper understanding of the historical events. The weaknesses lie in Giovanni's lack of a historical and political overview-this is often surprisingly contextless violence. While we anecdotally-and consequentially--learn much about the war as we pass through its victims' stories, Giovanni offers little analysis about how the war happened, how the response to it could have been better handled, and whether or not it could have been prevented. Giovanni is often in danger of ridiculing the gang of Serbs who initially holed up in Pale to direct the war (Koljevic, Karadzic) or those who took part in Dayton (Milosovic, Biljana Plavsic), thus threatening to disenable our ability to see how their violent nationalistic hypocrisy was allowed to flower. There is a concomitant danger in the book when it suggests that clever middle-class outsider children, whose parents were disenfranchised by the old communists, held a grudge for years that suddenly boiled over. While there maybe something to these psychologisms (they echo some of what is sometimes said of the Nazis) it actually sheds very scant light on the nature of human evil and the nature of a the historical/political context that allows it to flourish.
The great strength of the book is that Giovanni allows the (mostly Bosnian) voices of the Balkans to speak. If her sometimes clichéd journalese grates, somehow this never makes the book any the less powerful. While there are better books on the Balkans (Misha Glenny and Noel Malcolm are both good starting points) this has the advantage of being very current (Giovanni writes some dispatches, looking back at the war, continuing to interview those still hugely, horribly affected by it, in 2000), very moving and very humane. --Mark Thwaite
"Janine di Giovanni is superb - an extraordinarily brave war correspondent and a wonderful writer as well." - -- WILLIAM SHAWCROSS
"Wholly memorable, entirely unsettling: one of the best pieces of reportage to come from the Balkan abattoir." -- Kirkus Review
If you read no other book about the Balkan wars, read this one. -- Philip Caputo
A harrowing firsthand account of a regions spiral into madness. -- Publishers Weekly
Janine DiGiovanni has described war in a way that almost makes me think it never needs to be described again.' -- Sebastian Junger
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
The one thing that spoils the effect of the book is the very poor (possibly non-existent) editing. The book is obviously assembled from Ms di Giovanni's despatches, and that’s the problem: the book desperately needed someone to edit out the repeat references – for example, I lost count of the number of times that we are told that Milosevic led Serbia to defeat four times in ten years. Of course that’s true, but it distracts from the content of the book to keep running across such references. And that’s the real shame: her writing is so good that it deserves much better treatment than that, and I hope she’s given the production team at Bloomsbury a rocket for such a poor effort.
Despite what I’ve written above, I urge people to read the book – and also Anthony Loyd’s wonderful ‘My War Gone By, I Miss It So,’ one of the best books I’ve read about the Bosnian conflict.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not sure that one can review a book about yet another conflict in the Balkans with 5 stars as it is a horrifying and traumatic account of much evil and some good..... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Maggy Wallace
di Giovanni's book, Madness Visible, forcibly demonstrates the idiocy of the human kind, the shear hatred that hides in many people's heads and the gossamer thin veil of civilised... Read morePublished on 16 Nov. 2013 by Mr P Wolstenholme
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Biography > Historical > 1901 Onwards
- Books > Biography > Historical > Countries & Regions > Europe
- Books > History > Britain & Ireland > Edwardian and Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > Britain & Ireland > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > Essays, Journals, Letters & True Accounts > 20th Century
- Books > History > Europe > Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > Europe > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > Military History
- Books > History > North America > Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > North America > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > World History > 1901-1913
- Books > History > World History > Inter-war Period 1919-1938