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Surviving the Bosnian Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak Hardcover – 25 Nov 2011


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Review

"A book of remarkable integrity that gives the victims voices, faces, families, and lives... The author succeeds in creating an honest and sensitive picture from the jumble of stories, emotions, and reminiscences... A work of great social relevance." Internationale Spectator

About the Author

Selma Leydesdorff is Professor of Oral History and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is author of We Lived with Dignity: The Jewish Proletariat of Amsterdam, 1900 1940 and editor (with Nanci Adler, Mary Chamberlain, and Leyla Neyzi) of Memories of Mass Repression: Narrating Life Stories in the Aftermath of Atrocity.Kay Richardson is a retired editor with 30 years of experience in international scholarly publishing. During her 13 years of residence in the Netherlands, she gained fluency in Dutch and developed an abiding interest in Dutch history and culture."


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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrific truths 13 Jun. 2012
By JYK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I became interested in learning more about the Bosnian ethnic cleansing in the 1990s after watching PBS's 'I Came to Testify'. This was the first book I picked up after watching an interview with the author. The tone is rather dry, possibly due to being a translation, but one can still feel the daily horrors suffered by all these women. What makes the atrocities all the more horrific is that they were often perpetrated by people they trusted (e.g. former neighbors, childhood friends), creating lasting physical and psychological wounds. I don't know how they - Serbs and Bosnians - can recover after inflicting and/or suffering the worst that the humanity can offer. It may take generations before the wounds can heal. The book made me think a lot about what it means to be human.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars International responsibility for peacekeeping missions 6 Sept. 2013
By Kay Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Dutch Supreme Court ruled today (September 6, 2013) that the Dutch armed forces working as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica in 1995 are responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian men they handed over to Serb forces. This opens the question of legal responsibility for deaths not prevented by military forces under UN control. It may well set a legal precendent that impacts how civil wars are handled by international peacekeeping forces.

This book is accessible to a broad audience. It gives a detailed account of the Bosnian genocide from the victims' perspective, helping raise awareness about the nature of such multi-ethnic regional conflicts. I am proud to have translated it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, unique perspective on important issue 26 Nov. 2012
By C. Morus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in women's war experiences, post-trauma testimonies, post-conflict transitional justice, or the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia. It is appropriate for students in undergraduate or graduate level courses, but can also be easily enjoyed by a lay audience with some interest or background in the Srebrenica massacre or in women's post-conflict issues. Leydesdorf skillfully blends academic and lay voice to create a kind of hybrid text that is both an enjoyable read for anyone interested in the topic as well as a valuable academic resource. I used this book in a graduate-level seminar on Gender, War & Genocide. All of my students appreciated the text. I would also use it for undergraduate classes, as it is an easy read, but still deals with important issues from a unique perspective.

The voices and perspectives of the Women of Srebrenica are an important dimension to re-humanization in post-conflict transition. A refreshing break from the typical paradigm of Western scholar/journalist giving voice to the "other" and interpreting their experiences through homogenizing Western stereotypes, this book allows the women to be individual and human, and to speak in their own voices. Still, this is not just a book of testimonies. Leydesdorff does offer critical analysis and interpretation of broader themes, but she tries to do so in turns, so that the women speak in chunks, and then Leydesdorff offers perspective.

It is also relevant to add that this book was written by a Dutch woman, and being that the Dutch UN forces have some culpability for allowing Srebrenica's massacre to take place, her perspective is particularly important. There is an element of cultural reckoning here... an undertone of being driven to come to terms with the past that means that a reader is not only hearing the voices of the women (in a unique and interesting variety), but also is getting (in subtext) a window into Dutch cultural guilt to some extent.

My only critique is that Leydesdorff does not seem to be a Balkan expert, and as such she is sometimes unwittingly drawn into regional biases and at other times displays inherent Western biases on the Bosnian War and Srebrenica. Further, because of what I perceive as a lack of regional expertise, there are some slight inaccuracies with regard to history and politics. Still, Leydesdorff is careful to allow the women to speak for themselves, and has gone to great lengths to include a wide range of voices that push the narrative beyond oversimplified victim/perpetrator stereotypes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Painful and real 26 July 2016
By Thamina Khair - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the midst of finishing this book, and I thank Leydesdorff and her team for sharing the heroic voices of Srebrenica's women that history have neglected, silenced, and in some cases, forgotten. It is beautifully written with a historical backdrop to provide subtext to the timelines, scholarly insight to provide context to the plight of the experiences. The painful collective telling of their memories before, during, and after the war, though fragmented, is not an easy read by any means. I cried at multiple points of the book. The oral histories of the trauma and tragedy endured by these women is painted raw and real. The women are given names, identities--they are humanized, and most importantly their stories are presented with dignity and integrity. The women's psychological traumas are marred by social/economic turmoil in present Sebrenica and nearby villages, which makes telling the more painful. That is why this is a must read, the endangered voices of these women must be heard, such that we are not complicit in the further erasing of their history. It is difficult to gage how your own neighbors, former friends, collegues, can inflict such horrors, and be complicit in your ethnic cleansing as perpetrators/bystanders. Leydesdorff cites possibilities as to why and how murder, torture, rape became so commonplace, but none provide real answers to the questions at hand. Ultimately, this book highlights the complexities of genocide: in its preface and its aftermath. How do you justify acts so unjustifiable? And how do the survivors reconcile a past they don't have many answers to? Really important read.
5.0 out of 5 stars She was happy. 25 Jan. 2016
By Sc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my daughter for her thesis research. She was happy.
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