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on 19 July 2014
For anyone who 'missed' the war this is an immense read from both a very localised perspective but also it gives the overall picture and causes of the conflict. One could be forgiven for dismissing the 'comic' book style outright but I can only confirm with others that it is a masterly approach to bringing a conflict to life. It is a work of art on one level and a literary one also.
I was old enough to understand the war when it took place but found that it was delivered on the news in a way that failed to illustrate the causes and therefore without the foundations to understand what was going on it passed me by.
I bought this together with Martin Bell's ( BBC journalist) 'In Harms Way'. Both are great books in their own right and I now feel enlightened and have a far greater understanding that would enable me to hold my own in any discussion about it.
I have also bought the memoirs of Colonel Bob Stewart, who commanded the 1st Cheshire's in their tour as UN peacekeepers, but am yet to read it.
This tragic episode in post WW" history has largely been passed over although its repercussions are still being contested in the Court at Hague and the Dutch Courts because of their guilt over the atrocities that they could have perhaps prevented.
Any doubts...don't have...buy it.
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on 3 October 2016
This graphic novel is excellent in the way it communicates specific events of the Balkan war in visual terms. I feel the illustrations are highly effective in encouraging reader engagement and they are intricate and full of detail. The only reason l didn't give it five stars is because, a. l found the writing style and order of events rather confusing: the story would have worked much better in chronological order in my opinion, and divided into sections accordingly, rather than divided into characters and their recollections of events for example. It meant a lot of going back and forth which was heavy going at times, especially considering the challenging subject matter, which bearing in mind, many readers will know very little about before reading this; and, b. l felt Sacco lacked empathy throughout which in certain areas came across as being patronising (especially regarding the sections on 'the silly girls' which l felt highly inappropriate considering what they had been through and suffered. I can see that his unempathic position stems from his journalistic background and the need for objectivity but when presented with obviously unjust events, l think he could have injected much more personality and feeling into the narrative. Despite this the book is compelling to read and an enormous feat of illustration competence. Even if just to raise awareness of this tragic event (the supposed 'safe area' situation of Gorazde) the book is a must read and will undoubtedly open discussion and meaningful thought.
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on 18 October 2013
What I liked about this book was the very matter-of-fact personal account of the conflict it presented. The drawing style evokes the ruined town and it's people in a stark and rather brutal way. The faces are lined and often ugly, everything looks grimy and worn out. The bodies of dead farm animals litter the streets. The horror of this situation is very well realised. I was also very pleased to see an author feature the stories of some Bosnian Serbs who stayed behind when the others left. This group of people are often ignored in conventional accounts of the war that present it in very absolute terms. Many Serbs believed in Izetbegovic's idea of a multi-ethnic Bosnia and wanted to stay in their communities, but they were too afraid. A small group of very brave people did stay behind with their muslim neighbours. Sadly the brutality of the war scarred everyone. I've never heard one of these people tell their story before, so it was nice to encounter it here.
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on 20 September 2010
When I started this book I wasn't sure if I liked the style of drawing and writing, but just a few pages in I was hooked. When I got to the end, I immediately turned to the beginning and read it through again. It's that good. Sacco manages to entwine the personal stories of those caught up in the war with excellent general context and history, so you really come away from the book feeling like you know a great deal about the topic. Be warned though, this is the tale, not only of a war, but of a genocide and despite being a comic book, is in no way suitable for children or anyone of a sensitive disposition... But do not be put off, this is an incredibly important piece of reportage, and in my mind, a masterpiece.
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on 24 September 2015
Superb account of the awful war in Bosnia. Brings together the large picture and individual stories to create a gripping account of a journalist's time in Goražde. Telling the story in the form of a graphic novel is stunning. First time I've read a graphic novel written about "real" life - and I was very impressed.
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on 6 July 2013
I have only recently discovered Sacco's works and it pains me, because had I discovered his graphic novels while I was at university, they would have made for interesting background reading for some of the subjects I came to study. Safe Area Gorazde is thought provoking and at times hard to read, if only because it paints a vivid and unapologetic image of the hardships and betrayals that the Islamic people's of Gorazde (and the wider Bosnia) faced during a the early nineties. Do not be disheartened however, as light relief is easily found in the inspiring characters Sacco surrounds himself with over the course of his visits.

The overarching story this piece ultimately tells is one of the United Nations' ineptitude throughout the majority of the bloody affair that is the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the resultant Balkan war. At times I found myself more appalled at Western inactivity than at Serbian atrocities. Sacco may well stand as one of the UN's most ardent critics, even if poorly acknowledged.
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on 18 February 2017
Waste of money. Not what I was hoping for. I served in Gorazda during the Bosnia conflict and a comic book is not a good reflection. Really poor and very very dissapointed.
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on 8 March 2014
Utterly brilliant telling of the Bosnian war, especially since Goradze isn't as well known as Srebrenica. This has a brisk pace and is definitely worth reading.
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on 20 September 2015
Anything by Joe Sacco is thought provoking and worth reading. !
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on 29 April 2002
I was eager to read this book, as I love the idea of the graphic novel applied to history, and this format worked brilliantly in Maus. Unfortunately, this book copies a lot from Maus but in my view it just doesn't succeed. Similar to Maus, the story is told through an interviewer who is also a character in the story, and the victims recount their experiences in an authentic-style broken English. Unfortunately, in this book there is too much focus on the writer's personal experiences and personality, which I found dull, and the coverage of the other events in the story is also relatively flat. On the positive side, the depictions of the actual political events (using maps, etc.) were very well done; unfortunately this only comprised a few pages and did not make up for the weakness of the rest of the book.
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