by Peter Maass ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 28, 1996
A journalist's remarkably penetrating and unapologetically opinionated account of the war in Bosnia and how it changed the way he perceives himself and humankind. Enough time has elapsed for a steady stream of journalistic accounts of fighting in the former Yugoslavia to have appeared. The Washington Post's Maass offers an unusual and striking addition to this group. More than just a recounting of the Bosnian horrors that are by now familiar--the wretched scenes from concentration camps, the misery in hospitals, the terror of sniper fire, slow starvation, war profiteering--Maass's work is profoundly introspective and honest. While the reader senses these qualities throughout the book, it is only in the final pages that the author spells out the way the war has changed him. Describing his vague sense of Jewishness (his family celebrated Christmas and sent him to an Episcopal school) and his complacency about his religious identity, Maass eloquently captures the personal, national, and universal implications of this brutal civil war: ""I am now more aware of what being a Jew can mean. I learned this from the Muslims of Bosnia . . . Muslims versus Christians, Jews versus non-Jews, whites versus blacks, poor versus rich--there are so many seams along which a society can be torn apart by the manipulators."" Maass has no doubts about the identity of the ""manipulators"" (Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic) and the ""appeasers"" (the United Nations and its representative Lord Owen, and Western leaders). His attacks on them are scathing and deeply bitter. Maass's heroes are the American diplomats who resigned over the government's inaction and hypocrisy, his fellow journalists, and the citizens and representatives of Bosnia. Unfortunately, he leaves Croatia and its dubious president, Franjo Tudjman, out of the picture. By doing so, Maass oversimplifies the situation, reducing it to a Serb-Muslim conflict and ignoring Croatian warmongering. A provocative meditation on appeasement and isolation in the face of evil.
Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1996
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1996
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