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Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia Paperback – June 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

At once a stunning piece of war reporting and a heartbreaking, deeply personal story, Sudetic's account of Yugoslavia's bloody breakup enfolds a family saga into an epic historical chronicle. Sudetic is a former New York Times correspondent, a Croatian-American now living in Belgrade. His Serb wife is related to the Celiks, a Muslim family who narrowly escaped death as refugees in Srebrenica in 1995, when Bosnian Serbs overran a U.N. "safe area" and decimated and expelled the town's Muslim-majority population. Tracing the Celiks' history over five generations, Sudetic illumines the inner workings of Tito's police state, charting the family's survival through the German invasion of Yugoslavia and under Communist rule. He brings history into the present when Serbia's president Slobodan Milosevic, "the prime mover in Yugoslavia's slide into chaos," precipitated a warAwith the aid of his accomplice, Croatian president Franjo TudjmanAby seizing Muslim territory. The war, according to Sudetic, was basically a landgrab by Milosevic, but was cleverly presented to the West as an age-old ethnic conflict or a struggle between Christianity and Islam. Shocking in its graphic account of atrocities committed by all sides, Sudetic's unsettling narrative gives human dimensions to a historical tragedy. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140286810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140286816
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,358,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Chuck Sudetic has written one of the most important books of the 1990s. I can attest from first-hand knowledge of the Balkans that this work is astonishingly unbiased, even as it is wrenching in its descriptions of the effects of an unwanted war on average men and women. By mid-book, the reader may begin to feel that too much detail has been accumulated on the families the author follows through the Bosnian nightmare--but then, in a matter of pages, the horror begins. First, comes a series of random cruelties, then broader atrocities, until the book climaxes in its unforgettable description of the siege and fall of Srebrenica, one of the worst (and most preventable) tragedies of our time. This is when the richness of the family saga begins to resound--Sudetic recreated a now-lost world then let us witness its destruction. It is a work of great commitment and honesty. This book captures the desperation, ignorance, cowardice, heroism, corruption and indestructible hopes of men and women swept up in a war they never fully comprehended. This, not the diplomatic headlines, is the bitter reality of our times for millions of human beings, from the Balkans to Indonesia. Sudetic is not an elegant stylist, but for the purposes of such a grim narrative, his "Joe Friday," deadpan prose serves far better than would a more self-consciously literary approach. While other fine books have been written about the self-destruction of Yugoslavia (Tom Gjelten's "Sarajevo Daily" comes to mind), I find "Blood and Vengeance" an indispensible work. By telling the intertwined stories of Muslim and Serb Orthodox families on one mountainside, Sudetic encapsulates the broad tragedy of a region.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Martin on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
During the war in Bosnia, I am ashamed to say that I understood very little about what was really going on. The situation seemed so complex that I was put off reading any articles that might then have shed light on my ignorance. Now, with this remarkable book, I have finally come to understand what really happened. Chuck Sudetic skilfully takes you from the birth of Christ, the Romans, the Ottoman invasions and finally to the situation today. He narrates the war period from the point of view of the Celik family. And in so doing he succeeds in breaking your heart as he recounts the human disaster that took place. Everyone should read this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JFMP on September 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Blood and Vengeance is a gripping account of the date of the unlucky people who were trapped in the Srebrenica "safe" zone. Like no other book, it details the extent of the massacres and the direct participation of ordinary citizens and Serbian higher ups in the massacre of thousands of civilians. A witness even places Gen. Mladic personally supervising executions in a vast killing field that went on for hours. The ineptitude and cowardice of the UN is truly bewildering. The author has trouble getting the story going. The narrative jumps abruptly from the daily life of a Bosnian Muslim family before the war, to the unfolding political events, to Balkan history and even the author's comings and goings. Much attention is paid to minute details, while fundamental areas are glossed over. It is not until the second half, when the featured Muslim Bosnian family is forced into Srebrenica, that everything comes into place. The unfolding international events begin to flow seamlessly into the personal story line, and the book ends up reading like the best (and saddest) of thrillers. Yet the question remains unanswered: How could your neighbor turn into your torturer overnight?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
After reading tremendous books like David Rohde's "End Game," Holbrooke's "To End a War," Kaplan's "Balkan Ghosts," Rebecca West's "Black Lamb, Grey Falcon," Michael Sells' "A Bridge Betrayed," and a host of others, this one stands out as the very best yet written on Bosnia. Sudetic successfully weaves the macro policy issues with an in-the-trenches view of one family's experience in Srebrenica. The end product is a devastating indictment of the international community for allowing atrocities like this to occur again, after similar incidents occuring in WWII Germany, Post Vietnam Cambodia, Guatemala and Rwanda. After seeing the aftermath of Srebrenica's downfall in person and knowing many of the people involved, I can say that Sudetic has unquestionably written the definitive account of this tragic chapter in Bosnia's history.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. Kirk Lucas on November 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This great book exposes truths that the world needs to hear, and acknowledge. First, the convenient fallacy that all sides in the Bosnian war were equally guilty of the evils perpetrated there. They weren't. Sudetic also dispenses with the international community's implication that the corrosive violence of 1992 - 1995 was inevitable. It wasn't, but rather was deliberately manipulated by nationalist Serb leaders. And he damningly shreds the fiction that the U.N. did what it could to prevent the Srebrenica massacre, exposing an unbelievable moral cowardice & incompetence, particularly of Bernard Janvier & Yasushi Akashi. Riveting, searing, ultimately heartbreaking. Read it.
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