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Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West Hardcover – March 3, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671881183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671881184
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,791,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rieff (Going to Miami) "resolved to write as frankly incendiary a narrative as I could of my journeys to the slaughterhouse that the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina became in the spring of 1992." He found a society with multicultural ideals worth preserving and concluded that the great powers had a moral obligation to defend Bosnian independence: "It should have been the West's cause." Rieff describes the terror tactics employed by the Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian Muslims and makes the chilling observation that Serb soldiers are better outfitted for killing civilians than for engaging enemy forces on a battlefield. He acknowledges that humanitarian relief efforts have been as heroic as any in modern history but argues that, more than food, medicine and clothing, military intervention is needed. He reviews Washington's prevaricating Bosnia policy and the toothless resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, referring to the U.N. "peacekeepers" as handmaidens of genocide for standing idly by as a nation is murdered. The resonating attitude of this brief report is despair. Gone, says Rieff, is "the dream that the world has a conscience; the dream that Europe is a civilized place; the dream that there is justice for the weak as well as for the strong."
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Rieff provides a fine journalistic account of the war in former Yugoslavia. Despite his particular distaste for Croatian nationalism, he manages a relatively balanced treatment of the war in Bosnia. The book's strength lies in describing the war's detail. For example, Rieff explains the mechanics of "ethnic cleansing" in Banja Luka, Bosnia's second largest city, as a process involving Serbian "crisis committees," outside terror against uncooperative local Serbs, and the systematic murder of "Muslim notables." He also distinguished the venality of some of the U. N. Protection Forces as "accomplices to genocide" from the stark heroism of aid workers for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. The book lacks the perspective of Misha Glenny's The Fall of Yugoslavia (LJ 1/93) or the historical depth of Robert Donia and John Fine's excellent Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed (LJ 10/1/94). Rieff also errs occasionally, e.g., Muslims in former Yugoslavia were declared a "constituent nation" in 1968-not 1974, as he asserts. But on the whole this book can be recommended for academic and public libraries.
--Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ.-Erie
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BH on December 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Published while the slaughter in Bosnia was not yet over this book provides a dated, yet chilling, view of the conflict in this God forsaken region. I say conflict because it cannot be considered war. I've read it before in other books and seen it in pictures and movies but Bosnia truly was the "Slaughterhouse" that Mr. Rieff describes.
These were ordinary people; doctors, teachers, parents, etc. that grew up in the bosom of civilization, in Europe. They expected that civilization to shield them from the horrors unleashed by the Bosnian Serbs and were shellshocked when it didn't. Comprehension was beyond them, this simply COULD NOT happen at the end of the 20th century in the heart of Europe, but it did. The worst slaughter in Europe since the Holocaust, 250,000 dead. Why? Mr. Rieff comes to the same conclusion as most; myth and delusion. The Turk/Janissary/Handzar were coming for the Serbs in their beds, only, it was actually the Chetniks murdering and raping instead.
"Why did they murder a 70 year old Bosniac?
Don't you understand they did it because in 1389 the Turks beat Prince Lazar on the Kossovo Polje?"
GAAAH!
Because of when this was written it is a dated history but still very valuable because Mr. Rieff was there, as an American, whose perspective any American (Westerner) will understand. His disbelief and horror echoes your own. A horrible read in that it will make you want to weep but a great way to begin to comprehend what happened.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By pnotley@hotmail.com on May 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
On January 8, 1993 a UN convoy was transporting the vice-President of Bosnia, Dr. Hakija Turajlic back to Sarajevo when it was stopped by a Serb convoy. The UN commander, French Colonel Patrice Sartre did not call for help from the UNPROFOR aiport garrison. Instead he sent away three British Warrior fighting vehicles on the scene, saying there wasn't a problem. In order to demonstrate that there were no "Mujahedin" riding along with Dr. Turajlic, Sartre opened the door to the truck Turajlic was sitting in. Whereupon a Bosnian Serb promptly assasinated him. For this grotesque act of incompetence, Sartre was not court-martialed and shot, but fully exonerated by the United Nations, and on his return to France was given the Legion of Honor. Later he would help the French intervention to save their genocidal allies in Rwanda.
One might say that this horrible episode, as recounted in David Rieff's excellent and properly outraged book, was typical of the world's reaction to Bosnia: a false neutrality between the murderer and the victim moving towards active indulgence of the former against the latter; a refusal to accept the blame or responsibility for one's actions; a member country of the United Nations actively betrayed by the UN whose paths to peace amount to its liquidation. One might say this, but that would not be enough. Rieff reminds us of the full horror and obscenity of the Bosnian war, and provides a shocking picture of Western callousness.
He reminds us of the obvious. Here is a democratic multicultural republic who has no defenders in either the United Nations or in the European Community. For years the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe was the United States' best argument in the cold war. Yet nothing Husak or Honecker ever did was as foul as the butchery of Srebrenica.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book defininitely opened my eyes to the "Slaughterhouse" of the Balkans. The book was definitely well-researched and well-written, but it definitely dragged on at times. Rieff seemed to be repeating himself throughout the whole book, but his points were obviously well-taken. It also described various detailed, graphic accounts of some of the hardships that many people had to live with. It portrayed all sides of the whole Bosnia/Serbia/Croatia genocide and compared it to the Holocaust. Rieff also berates the rest of the world for not coming to the aid of the thousands of victims of this war. A good overview of the entire Balkan conflict.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Mr. Rieff writes with such a poetic style that the subject becomes alive and fluid! Though the subject is tragic the writing style is magical. Every page drew me in and refused to let me go until I had turned to the next. A very well researched and poignant book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samir on June 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent analysis of the Bosnian war. While the writer at times might ramble on, it is still one of the best books out there by a great journalist. Rieff knows his stuff and I would say that this book is essential for any study on the conflict. His points are quite cogent and he makes an excellent case against the UN's conduct in the war. This is an important piece for the serious Balkan reader.
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