Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia

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9780140286816: Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia

Taking its place on the short list of essential books about the Bosnian struggle, Blood and Vengeance succeeds in putting a human face-on the conflict, rendering its devastation comprehensible to Western readers. Perhaps the most notorious and disputed outrage of the war was the massacre of as many as 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica. Although previously designated a safe area by the United Nations Security Council, Srebrenica was overrun by General Ratko Mladic's Bosnian Serb forces while U.N. peacekeeping troops stood by impotently.With novelistic eloquence and journalistic acumen, Sudetic follows several generations of the Celiks, the Muslim family he is related to by marriage, which met their tragic destiny at Srebrenica. His indelible portrait of these inhabitants of a remote mountaintop village outside of Srebrenica not only illumines the historical context of the tragedy but, more important, reveals the human impact of the horror. Blood and Vengeance contains the sweep and power of a panoramic historical painting, yet possesses the heartbreaking intimacy of a family snapshot.

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Review:

"There is a method to presenting the reality of war in [New York] Times style," writes Chuck Sudetic, "a restrictive method but a perfectly valid one just the same. It focuses mainly on institutions and political leaders and their duties and decisions, while leaving the common folk to exemplify trends, to serve as types: a fallen soldier, a screaming mother, a dead baby.... The method is described by various terms: detachment, disinterestedness, dispassion, distancing, and others with negative prefixes engineered to obliterate any relationship between observer and observed."

Although Sudetic was able to maintain his detachment for the numerous stories he filed from the frontlines of the Bosnian war for the Times, it could not ultimately last. Blood and Vengeance examines the events leading up to the July 1995 genocidal massacre that took place in and around the town of Srebenica from the perspective of the Celik family (to whom the author is related by marriage). Sudetic ably blends the intimate chaos and terror of the Celiks' lives with broader historical and contemporary accounts that provide a fuller context for what happened. The people here are not types, but vividly portrayed individuals in whose lives the reader gradually becomes absorbed. This book ranks with Peter Maass's Love Thy Neighbor as one of the closest--and most chilling--looks at the tumultuous events that shattered post-cold war Eastern Europe. --Ron Hogan

From the Publisher:

"Blood and Vengeance" has been chosen by "Publisher's Weekly" as one of their Best Books of the Year for 1998.

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