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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 April 2012
I was a teenager in Britain when the Bosnian war happened and confess that most of it passed me by with a vague memory about the siege of Sarejevo. Yet this book tells the personal stories, including that of the author that make for a very difficult read - at the same time unable to put the book down. In my lifetime and just 7 years before my son was born and 5 before before my daughter - there were atrocities of a truly staggering nature happening right on our doorstep. Our neighbours were being slaughtered and we failed to see. Worse still, the suffering continues every day as both neighbours, those directly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from around Europe fail to recognise the horrors of the past and therefore prevent any form of reconciliation. I believe this book should be compulsory reading for our teenage children, lest they ever believe such things couldn't happen in their lifetime. Thank you Ed for writing this book.
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on 23 March 2013
This is a very powerful and vital book. I served 2 tours of Bosnia - although this was under SFOR. I felt a strong sense of shame as to what happened and was shocked to discover people peddling the twisted logic of 'equal equivalence'. Indeed I have met both British and Americans who were ill informed or who after 9/11 seem to think that the Serb war against Muslims was in some way vindicated. Manjaca concentration camp was in our AO and I have been to it (after it became a RS Army camp), but it's history was never part of our briefing. This was clearly a war against civilians and how the west never understood this is beyond me. Indeed liberalism in its twisted form led to reasonable behaviour to all sides including the perpetrators. I joined the Army to 'defend' the flock not to invade other countries - so how we could justify the invasion of Iraq but not intervention in Bosnia or Rwanda is beyond me.

This is a very powerful book and Ed Vulliamy covers all aspects of post-conflict aftermath. It is very sad at times and I still feel ashamed at our conduct. I can vouch for the ongoing problems of return for displaced persons and the continuing hostility of the RS to these people. The end of wars are always messy and Vulliamy shows this hidden pain.
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on 3 October 2012
I have the feeling that the war in Bosnia have been forgotten by most of the world. This book helps remembering what happened in this beautiful country 20 years ago. It doesn't help understand because I don't think this would be possible.I have been in Bosnia and tried really hard to comprehend what madness made people do what they did. How can neighbor turn against neighbor after decades of harmony. Or maybe it wasn't so happy and harmonious as everybody thought. This book is in fact a memorial to Bosnian Muslims murdered,tortured and raped in the war as they can't build proper memorial in the places where these unspeakable crimes happened to them. It's an angry book. You ca feel it from the words. Mr. Vulliamy is angry and desperate And he should be. People still haven't received justice and the society is deeply divided. I was told by many people in Bosnia that they think that Bosnia is a test. EU and US want to know how long will it take for Bosnians to start killing each other again.That living like they are living now in two entities with politicians preaching nationalistic hate and people losing hope will create war again.

I took one star off cause this book made the entire Serbian people look like war criminals. And yes some of them did commit horrible crimes but it is not correct to judge entire nation in this light. It will take some time for Serbs to come to terms with what these animals did in their name. They are the most important part of the puzzle in Bosnia. The reconciliation can't be done without them.
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on 26 June 2012
Often we search for explanations of history, but this examines the very real people and events that are so recent. The balance of factual examination and the details of human survival blends the sad, the cruel, the wicked and the inspiried. A story that angers and informs. An essential book that is rewarding and certainly challenged me as to what I thought I knew.
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on 3 July 2012
Thank you, Ed Vuillamy. Thank you for writing this. This book is a revelation and very readable. Frankly I was glued to it.

Interesting, inspiring and immensely moving.
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on 8 July 2012
This isn't always an easy read, either as a member of the human race or as a Briton whose government stood by in the face of clear evidence of slaughter until after the election of Blair who engaged in one of his less shameful foreign policy ventures. Vulliamy witnessed the unfurling of the ethnic 'cleansing' (read murder, rape and deportations) of the Bosniak population in Serbia and refused to stand aside as an impartial journalist. This book explores the consequences for some of the victims and the ways that some of them have been able to rebuild their lives, in the face of continuing hostility in Serbia and a general lack of interest in the rest of world. Occasional detours sometimes feel unnecessary, but the book should be considered essential reading.
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on 20 January 2013
Thank you Ed for writing a book which explains to me - as much as anyone can - what happened in Bosnia. I have tried to untangle it for years. The horror is nonetheless for being unravelled. This book tells not what happened, but what has happened since, and how the international community turned its back on genocide. And how twenty years on people STILL try to claim that it was vastly exaggerated.

A vital book, handling a hideous subject with grace: it is never gratuitous and all the more powerful because of it.
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on 21 May 2012
Ed once again puts his heart and soul into telling the truth about Bosnia and the struggles of its people over that last 20 years. This is a man who has lived through more of the Bosnian war that many Bosnians themselves and who speaks from personal experiences of the trenches and concentration camps, as well as the relationships and bonds he has since formed with the 'charachers' he met along the way. An absolute gem of a book. Fascinating and a real eye opener.
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VINE VOICEon 19 September 2012
Some books we read for pleasure and amusement, and some to gain insight and knowledge. Some books we feel we should read, but there are some books that we simply must read. Journalist Ed Vulliamy's harrowing and jaw dropping account of the aftermath of the Bosnian War at a distance of twenty years after is such a book.

Vulliamy tellingly compares the Bosnian context to the response of the German nation to its own shameful Nazi past, with its collective awareness of what was done, and fierce determination to remember the full horror of Hitler's 'Final Solution' for the Jewish people. Concentration camps are preserved for posterity so that future generations can bear witness to the full evil of what happened, and hopefully to help such unthinkable atrocities and barbarism from ever recurring. The rest of the world also helped with the process of rehabilitation, barely fifteen years after the end of World War II The Beatles were performing in Hamburg, and Germany has emerged as a strong and democratic nation.

This is all in stark contrast to the same period following the Bosnian conflict. And although this book is about events after the war, they cannot be recounted without making reference, in shocking detail, to some of the bone chillingly sadistic and cruel episodes which took place during it. Nazi style concentration camps sprung up, in a Western European nation which not long before had hosted the Winter Olympics, to house the 'ethnically cleansed' Bosnian Muslims after their houses were burned down and many of their number were slaughtered. Vulliamy reveals in great detail, from his own personal experience during the conflict, how the outside world at best ignored the existence of these camps, and at worst colluded in covering them up.

Rape and torture of horrific kinds were routinely committed, and many of the prisoners were forced to commit unspeakable acts on each other for the amusement of their captors. Genocide is not a word to be used lightly, but there is no other way to describe the actions of the Serbian army under President Slobodan Milosević and his henchman General Radovan Karadzić.

And all the more shocking is the failure to come to terms with what was done, despite war crimes trials in The Hague. Today Bosnian Muslims cannot grieve at national shrines and try to come to terms with what was done to them. There are no monuments - the Serbians won't agree to them being built, and anyway many of the more barbarous acts are denied, despite the evidence of thousands of Bosnian Muslim bodies being painstakingly sifted through to be able to give their remaining families some way of mourning them. And woman have to face their rapists across the street every day, either having served a short term in jail, or many going unpunished for their crimes.

But aside from these frankly deeply depressing realities, the stories of the people that Vulliamy has come to know are brilliant reminders of how such conflict touches families and individuals, as well as nations. One particularly heart-warming detail is that of the Manchester City star striker Edin Dzeko, who is nothing short of a Bosnian national hero for his fierce pride in his nation and refusal to adopt citizenship of other much more glamorous footballing nations when he had the chance. As a City fan myself, it is pleasing to know that some of our pampered stars have principles and loyalty that have nothing to do with riches, and that such qualities cannot be bought.

Vulliamy's own part in helping to publicise the existence of the concentration camps, and in acting as a witness in The Hague is distinguished and to be applauded. As is his determination to continue to make the world sit up and take note of what is still happening today through this brilliant and brave book. It frankly demands to be read.
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on 4 March 2015
This is a very important and still timely book as it is coming up to the 20th anniversary of the Dayton talks that ended the war. The book largely follows up on the aftermath of the forced deportation and depopulation of the Bosnian Muslims and in particular the rape torture and murder that went on at the Omarska camps. What is shocking is not just what occurred (revealed by the author when he was an ITN journalist) but also what happened afterwards. The limitations of the international tribunal system are considered as are the experiences of Bosnian refugees in the UK and elsewhere. The book also reveals the shocking denial that any of these events ever occurred, by people in Serbia and Republic Srypska but also by people who should know better such as Harold pinter and Noam Chomsky. One of the ongoing traumas arising from this civil war is the inability for people to raise memorials to the dead in the sites where they were killed. Perhaps this well written and important book functions as a memorial to a degree.
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