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Through the Embers of Chaos: Balkan Journeys Hardcover – 12 Sep 2002
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A war's end is ... the beginning of a long and often dangerous struggle to re-establish normality ... [Murphy] shows just how rocky this road can be. (Guardian)
A timely and important account of a catastrophically razed corner of Europe. (Sunday Times)
Dervla Murphy is a brave woman and a great travel writer. (The Spectator)
Generosity is a quality which shines through Murphy's work. (Glasgow Sunday Herald)
Here, Dervla Murphy tells of the sights she saw and the people she encountered whilst bicycling through the beautiful yet war-ravaged regions of the former Yugoslavia. She recounts conversations revealing the grief, confusion, resilience and bravery of ordinary people during the decade of decay.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Her very first book Full Tilt still remains my favourite, with perhaps Eight Feet in the Andes a close second. All her books of journeys taken with her daughter are spell binding and very humbling.
However this book is reaching out to a different reader and for any one interested in the Balkan Wars then Dervla reaches the parts other authors miss.
Dervla Murphy's journeys by bike were undertaken 1999 and 2000, after the peace had been declared (in 1994), but her book describes how old wounds were still raw, people's lives had been wrecked, their new lives were still provisional. The cities were often still bomb-damaged, the countryside was largely dirt poor. Yet Dervla Murphy, this immensely brave older lady (she is a grandmother), rode her bike from one village to another, one city to the next, because she wanted to know what had happened and what the people felt about what had happened and how they were living now.
In this fascinating books she meets with people she knew before the conflict, and is fed on to friends of friends but often travels into unknown territory. Everywhere she goes she asks people about the war and what happened to them - Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, Muslims. This is not a story that forms itself into conclusions - how could it possibly do that? War is too terrible for there to be one truth about it, and Hannah Arendt was right - you can manufacture *fact* through lies accompanied by violence. This book is testament to how wrong an outsider can be about the truth as it is experienced subjectively.
The Balkan Wars ended with much of the former Yugoslavia reduced to poverty, massive economic disruption and persistent instability across the territories where the worst fighting occurred. The wars were the bloodiest conflicts on European soil since the end of World War II.
Dervla Murphy includes three appendices: (1) The EU in Mostar; (2) Kosovar, Serbia and Nato's Airwar, and (3) The Use of Depleted Uranium in the Balkans. These give invaluable background without which the true devastation of the former Yugoslavian territories cannot be understood. Essentially, however, Murphy's book tells the human story of the Balkan conflict, largely in the words of its people - and *all* of its people deserve to be heard.
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