This exploration of a family’s experience during the Bosnian war provides unique and harrowing insight into Bosnian Serb-Muslim relations. Sudetic, a Croatian-American, made a name for himself as a hardened and accomplished war journalist for the New York Times in the early 1990s. Desensitized to the daily carnage (he describes imagining himself viewing it from an observation tower), he loved the exhilaration of the job but felt that his newspaper pieces failed to capture “the deep structure of Bosnia itself, especially peasant Bosnia, lumpen Bosnia, the Bosnia the war had ravaged most.” Establishing contact with the Celik family, his wife’s relatives, presented him the opportunity to do just that. The extraordinary result, Blood and Vengeance, accomplishes precisely what its author set out to do, and more. Through vast personal interviewing and research, Sudetic relates the Celiks’ experience of war from their origins in an isolated mountain hamlet north of Vi—egrad to their ill-fated flight to doomed Srebrenica, and their final flight to a refugee camp in Tuzla. But while the narrative focuses on the Celiks (who seem intimately familiar by the book’s end), this account also follows the fate of Bosnian Serb families from their village. The story is rich in illuminating detail. In engaging prose, Sudetic acquaints us with the rhythms of daily life and interaction between the Bosnian Serbs and Muslims in the village of Kupusovici, as well as with their complex historical relations throughout the centuries. He sensitively evokes the character and mood of the village and this region bordering on Serbia that includes some of Bosnia’s most devastated towns. In particular, Blood and Vengeance adds to our understanding of the horror that was Srebrenica before the Celiks and other Muslim refugees underwent expulsion or mass execution by Bosnian Serbs in July 1995. Among the spate of books the Bosnian crisis has generated, Sudetic’s tale of one family’s struggle for survival is an essential and lasting contribution.

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-393-04651-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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