THE BUTCHER'S TRAIL by Julian Borger
Kirkus Star


The Secret History of the Balkan Manhunt for Europe's Most Wanted War Criminals
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A bracing history of the hunt for Balkan war criminals and the seminal establishment of the Hague Tribunal in 1993.

Diplomatic editor for the Guardian, English journalist Borger covered the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s for both the Guardian and the BBC. In his debut, he offers the thrilling account of the long-running international search for the masterminds of “ethnic cleaning” during these wars. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991 into rival states, ethnic bloodshed erupted, especially in Serbia, led by ruthless leader Slobodan Miloševic, who eventually became the “first sitting head of state ever to be charged with war crimes in an international court.” Though horrified by the bloodshed in Bosnia, the United States under new President Bill Clinton was loath to send in troops, leaving the United National Security Council to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, an experiment in justice with an eye to the postwar Nuremberg Trials. Yet the court had little authority to track down and prosecute criminals like Miloševic, his puppet Goran Hadžic, Croatian counterpart Franjo Tudjman, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic, and many others. In his vivid, page-turning account, Borger follows not only the actual hunt for the criminals, which took years and as many false starts as successes by a team of international special forces, but also the astonishing legal history that the ICTY forged in bucking a complacent international mindset. The author chronicles the tireless work of keen advocates of the ICTY, such as U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the intrepid “tracking team” led by chief prosecutors Louise Arbour and Carla Del Ponte. Borger impressively consolidates this important story, and he also includes a useful chronology of “arrests and transfers to the ICTY in the Hague.”

A well-organized, deeply researched work that ably digests the Balkan war, the criminals, the criminal court, and its legacy.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59051-605-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Other Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2015


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