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They Would Never Hurt A Fly: War Criminals on Trial in The Hague Paperback – 4 Mar 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (4 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117751
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Slavenka Drakulic is a writer of great sensitivity, intelligence and grace (Alice Walker)

A formidable writer (SUNDAY TIMES)

Her writing has the spare poetry of Marguerite Duras (GUARDIAN)

Slavenka Drakulic is a journalist and writer whose voice belongs to the world (Gloria Steinem)

Book Description

* An accessible, involving and moving account of the Balkan war criminals

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent book, and reminded me very much of Gitta Sereny's writing. Both women have the ability and skill to write about people who commit monstrous acts, and to help the reader understand a little more- perhaps as much as anyone is able- why these things happened.

Drakulic takes a long hard look at the war crimes committed by a variety of men who she saw being tried at the Hague. While the detail of their crimes is shocking enough, as a reader again and again I found myself most stunned by the fact that such disgusting acts were perpetrated by otherwise unremarkable- dare I say rather boring- people. Perhaps the extraordinary circumstances war thrusts people into makes them do outrageous things. For every act of courage there must be countless acts of cruelty. However, it's only when writers like Drakulic reminds you of this fact that you realise just how awful war is, and how much everyone must always try to stop them from occurring.

Two chapters really stood out for me: the first is the one on former Serb general Ratko Mladic (actually a piece that predates his recent capture and sending the the Hague). This chapter actually focusses on his daughter's suicide, and almost achieves the seemingly impossible by making you feel an ounce of sympathy for this piece of human detritus.

The other powerful chapter concerns the way prisoners of all kinds- Serb, Kosovan, Croat etc- seem to rub long well locked up together while awaiting trial. Read the book to see what lesson Drakulic draws from that irony.
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By A Customer on 1 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
I work in an Embassy in Belgrade dealing on a daily basis with the aftermath of what these people in The Hague did. This book is a short, easily readable introduction to the reasons why these seemingly ordinary characters did unspeakable things to their former countrymen. I regularly recomend this little known book to new colleagues.
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Format: Paperback
Other reviews for this book are picking out the bias viewpoint of the author, yes the majority of the accused in the book are Serbian and none are Muslim.

That never occurred to me reading the book, i wasn't looking at what ethnic group each of the perpetrators were in. What the author does is she looks at the lives of these men and women prior to the war.

The book is an exploration of her own quest for understanding. She is trying to see WHY these people, people that she could relate to and were so similar to her own friends and family, could kill hundreds of innocent civilians. She is trying to understand the psyche of the accused. She is not biased in her actual writing, she only uses ethnicity in her explainations of who people are - she doesn't say anything like "the Serbs were the worst". The book is not about what ethicity did what - its about the individuals and WHY they did what they did.

It is beautifully written, and thought provoking, it makes you think - if i were in that situation would i have behaved the same as the accused? We each hope that we wouldn't, that we could keep our humanity, but this book makes you think would i be able to?
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Format: Paperback
Great book that covers this important topic, easy to read and once picked up you cannot put it down. Speaking as someone who is NOT a serb the above synopsys is incorrect in it's referals to Serb's as perpetrators - a typical western view. The book does cover monsters like Milosevic but also Croation monsters (yes, they do exist) and also references to Muslim murderers. So, in all, read the book, worth it but dont think it's about Serb bashing - this book is about establishing the truth many of us do not see or do not want to see. A very very good read and an eye opener on the subject of how the world produces mass murderers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book tells about some of the hundred or thousands of people who comitted crimes during The Yugoslavia Wars and how they faced justice in The Hague. Apart from that, the author gives the reader insights about life in Yugoslavia during Tito's regime and how she felt about some events, like Milosevic's arrest. Fair, touching, intelligent and useful for those who, like me, are interested in what happened in Former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A commonly asked question throughout many outrages in history - What caused him/her to act as they did? This book is only a snapshot of what can be discovered in more depth online at the warcrimes website - http://www.icty.org/.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is hard to say you enjoyed a book which is a portrayal of criminals and their victims but as an introduction to some of the main protagonists in the Yugoslav wars you cannot do better than this. From the lowest to the top they are all here, some repent some are defiant in their denial. The language is simple which makes the facts all the more shocking. Like in Ed Vulliamy's book: "The war is dead, long live the war" Slavenka Drakulic does not linger over the details of their crimes but concentrates more on trying to examine their motivation. One conclusion is that their was no motivation other than some ordinary people finding themselves suddenly in a position of power exploit that power to satisfy their own sadistic fantasies. I could not read this book without stopping after each chapter and looking up the criminals on the ICTY channel in youtube. There you can see the faces behind the crimes and see how well they were described in the book.
At the time of writing Karadicz and Mladic were still at large and Milosevic was still alive. I think the book would benefit from an update and some revisions for as successful as the ICTY was in 2004 (publication date), its greatest successes were still to come.
There are a few typos in the Kindle edition but on the whole it is a good transfer from the print.
dave@dramaireland.com
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