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Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 [Paperback]

by Joe Sacco, Christopher Hitchens
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 17, 2002 1560974702 978-1560974703

The winner of the 2001 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Album. Sacco spent five months in Bosnia in 1996, immersing himself in the human side of life during wartime, researching stories that are rarely found in conventional news coverage, emerging with this astonishing first-person account.

Praised by The New York Times, Brill's Content and Publishers Weekly, Safe Area Gorazde is the long-awaited and highly sought after 240-page look at war in the former Yugoslavia. Sacco (the critically-acclaimed author of Palestine) spent five months in Bosnia in 1996, immersing himself in the human side of life during wartime, researching stories that are rarely found in conventional news coverage. The book focuses on the Muslim-held enclave of Gorazde, which was besieged by Bosnian Serbs during the war. Sacco lived for a month in Gorazde, entering before the Muslims trapped inside had access to the outside world, electricity or running water. Safe Area Gorazde is Sacco's magnum opus and with it he is poised too become one of America's most noted journalists. The book features an introduction by Christopher Hitchens, political columnist for The Nation and Vanity Fair.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Demonstrates] how brilliantly comics can serve as reportage.” (The New York Times )

“Graphic in every sense of the term, Sacco’s account of everyday life in a city under siege puts one of the twentieth century’s least understood catastrophes in perspective; it’s the best argument around for comics as a journalistic medium.” (GQ )

“Harrowing and bleakly humorous, Sacco's account of life during the Balkan conflict is a timeless portrait of ordinary people caught in desperate circumstances. It's also a work of genius in an unlikely genre: journalism in comic book form.” (Utne Reader )

“Sacco's detailed, personal reporting captures his subject matter more convincingly than photographs or Christiane Amanpour.” (Time )

“Joe Sacco is an engaging and direct writer, but above all, he is a good journalist. Comics just happen to be the outlet for his reportage... [he is] a master of the unique medium of comics journalism.” (William Jones - Graphic Novel Reporter )

“Published soon after the conflict that it documents, Safe Area Gorazde is an intense reading experience and an active call for the condemnation of tribal and international leaders who put politics ahead of humanity.” (Suzette Chan - Sequential Tart )

“Joe Sacco is a unique figure in modern comics: there is no one else who combines sheer cartooning chops with a newspaper reporter's sensibility and instincts in quite the same way.... an especially powerful document of the effects of war.” (Ed Howard - Only the Cinema )

About the Author

Joe Sacco lives in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of many acclaimed graphic novels, including Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, But I Like It, Notes from a Defeatist, The Fixer, War's End, and Footnotes in Gaza.

Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) is the author of God Is Not Great, Hitch-22, and Why Orwell Matters.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (January 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560974702
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560974703
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Sacco, one of the world's greatest cartoonists, is widely hailed as the creator of war reportage comics. He is the author of, among other books, Palestine, which received the American Book Award, and Safe Area: Gora�de, which won the Eisner Award and was named a New York Times notable book and Time magazine's best comic book of 2000. Hisbooks have been translated into fourteen languages and his comics reporting has appeared in Details, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Harper's and the Guardian. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary March 10, 2001
Format:Hardcover
I bought this after reading a (very short) review in The Economist. I also ordered Palestine: A Nation Occupied at the same time. The progression in Sacco's work is incredible. The drawings in Palestine are a little TOO cartoonish but in this they are far more real. Both stories are in their own ways, equally horrific, from the everyday brutality of the occupied territories to the visceral horror of Bosnia and the struggles of its people to live some kind of life. His summary of the events in Bosnia is one of the clearest accounts I have read - from the viciousness of certain Serb leaders to the culpability of the UN - he explains exactly how so many lives were destroyed in such horrific ways.
He is a marvelous talent and his genre is a wonderful way to present news and inform people about current events.
However, the really scary thing is the fact that I want him to produce something else. I want to read his words and examine his pictures, even though I know a world where Sacco is an unemployed bum would be a far better place. But as long as human beings act in disgusting ways towards each other he'll have plenty of material.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly outstanding January 17, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Someone once strongly recommended that I read this, although I have to admit I wasn't expecting much at first. I was really unsure how the Bosnian war could be rendered in comic strip fashion. However, "Safe Area Gorazde" is incredible: this is one of the best journalistic accounts to come out of the Bosnian war in any format. Sacco recounts the horrific war stories told to him by his friends and acquaintances in Bosnia with a great deal of honesty. He very effectively incorporates his own wit and the dry humor of the Bosnians into his narrative without turning it into a satire. I also like the fact that he was quite critical of the role of foreign reporters and correspondents (including himself) in Bosnia, i.e. their frequent insensitivity or their effective eavesdropping on the suffering of others. His illustrations also speak for themselves as he very accurately recreates the wartime destruction of property and the rag-tag appearance of the people; he has a unique talent for re-creating facial expressions that reflect a range of emotions. Hats off to Mr. Sacco, he deserves every praise for this informative and moving portrayal of wartime and immediate postwar Gorazde.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to "never again"? February 14, 2002
Format:Paperback
While graphic novels have been around for quite a while, graphic journalism or history has not. Sacco is a pioneer of this extremely humanistic new genre, and here he bears witness to the horrors of the war in Bosnia. Sacco visited the so-called "safe area" four times in late 1995 and early 1996, and his portrait of a devastated city and its survivors is more affecting than any newspaper account could hope to be. His black ink panels capture in vivid detail not only the scars left on the landscape, but on the people themselves. Sacco alternates between detailing his own visits to Gorazde, a straightforward history of the war, and letting his friends and interviewees recount their own terrible experiences.
His own visits are fairly basic, everyone is frightened and devastated by the war and he experiences the guilt of one able to come and go as he pleases. The history of the war is very clearly told, with maps and pertinent statements from UN leaders, Clinton, Milosavich, et al. Sacco clearly highlights how ineffective and downright cowardly the UN approach was, singling out British Lt. General Rose and French Lt. General Janvier for lying and dissembling in order to avoid conflict, and the Clinton administration for being inept and vacillating toward the Serbs. The history is a stark reminder that in the absence of a superpower with a vested interest, one cannot expect loose multinational efforts to deter genocide. Throughout the war, due to a total lack of leadership and moral will from above, UN forces were pushed around, held hostage, and at times fled into the night rather than protect the civilians they were supposed to. Which brings one to the most compelling and disturbing parts of the book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow February 4, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Amazing. This may be the most powerful testament yet writtenabout the war in Bosnia. Gorazde was a "safe area" in easternBosnia, much like the ill-fated Srebrenica nearby. It was nearly -butnot quite- overrun by Serb forces, and Sacco's four visits to the townyielded up this amazing comic-style account of the war from thenarrow, pained perspective of a town under siege. The story fits withthe format so well because it's not a chronology (like Honig's`Srebrenica'), nor a political review of the disintegration ofYugoslavia, nor a journalist's travelogue. It's just a day-to-dayaccount -conversations with soldiers, teachers, teenage girls,refugees, with their friends and families- all the folks who madeup wartime Gorazde. They witnessed unspeakable brutalities, attackson civilians, burning of houses, murders, rapes, gratuitous violenceby wicked men. Cut off from the world they are bored, hungry for newsand diversion. Sacco details these scenes and their terrible effectson the otherwise normal people of a nondescript Balkan town. Theunforgettable man who made hours of home video of carnage and bodyparts, achieving almost sexual pleasure from watching it and screeningit for visitors; the girls in search of bluejeans and boyfriends; thesoldiers who just want to go back to the university. Sacco placesGorazde in its historical context by reviewing the broader war, eventsin Sarajevo and Srebrenica and Dayton. He points fingers, this is notan even-handed piece of jurisprudence, but a visit to one of the ringsof hell, whose inhabitants know precisely who is guilty for visitingthis carnage on innocents. They know, because they were all neighborsjust months before.
Sacco's illustrations pack a punch.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Cover
The book looks very classy with the gold specks on the white cover. It's not hardcover but has a very clean finish to it, which makes it an appropriate gift for anyone into graphic... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Liberty
5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism in the Form of a Graphic Novel - Really Well DOne!
Joe Sacco is a creative force in the world, putting himself deep into conflict situations (Bosnia, Palestine), doing extensive research, and then documenting his investigations in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Osbert Ponder
5.0 out of 5 stars Rating
I did not realize it was in cartoon/graphic form. I would like to return the book, or sell it. It's unread, clean.
Published 5 months ago by S. Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars A good view of war effect on the civilian population
this book really gives a "where we live view" into the war in Bosnia. It really show how pathetic war can be on the general population caught in the crosshairs.
Published 5 months ago by DLPATTEN
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is a great title, very interesting read. However the specific copy I received in the mail which was sold as new was all bent and chewed up
Published 11 months ago by Rcp
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject
I knew very little about this incident in recent history before I picked this book up. It is incredibly informative, powerful, and gripping. This is journalism at its best. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Hip E.
4.0 out of 5 stars Profound, educational, beautiful ...
As a comic book nerd I've long enjoyed Joe Sacco's amazing work. Superb journalism presented in comic book format, he is an artist who reminds us of all of the promise in the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Caitlin Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Journalistic Revelation--not for the faint of heart
In chapter four of his The "New Journalism" Revisited, Rocco Versaci explains that to many New Journalists "all "truth" is mediated, and we ignore this fact at the expense of our... Read more
Published on March 29, 2012 by Kevin F. Tasker
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and moving example of journalism expressed in cartoon form
The greatest massacre of people on the European continent since World War II took place in Bosnia in the 1990's. Read more
Published on June 6, 2011 by Charles Ashbacher
5.0 out of 5 stars Great way to learn about a genocide many don't know about
When I started reading the first few pages of this book, I got a little bored and considered stopping. Read more
Published on February 15, 2011 by Incessant Cleaner
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