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Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime Paperback – March 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Dramatic, wrenching and horrific ... [the book] details the final battle for Srebenica and the murder of its men, it attempts to explain why the Bosnian Serbs committed such a horrific act of genocide, and it analyzes why the international community sleep-walked into the disaster.

From Kirkus Reviews

By focusing on the single most horrific event in the Bosnian war, the authors reveal in compelling detail the complex and ambiguous nature of international involvement in that conflict. In July 1995 the ``safe area'' of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia fell to Bosnian Serb forces, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops. Some 20,000 women and children were deported. Several thousand Muslim men, both soldiers and civilians, were killed in cold blood by the Bosnian Serb army. Honig and Both's presentation of these enormously complex and frustrating events serves as a general indictment of all the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. The authors are Dutch specialists in war and defense studies, and their account dwells heavily on the military and political considerations, including the role of Dutch combat forces, the only UN forces serving in that area. This meticulous and honest reconstruction of events leaves no party unblemished, from the warring armies to UN officials. (Dutch soldiers, for instance, were held hostage by both Bosnian Army and Bosnian Serb forces.) Sharp accusations are leveled at the Serbian leadership itself, whom the authors consider guilty of pursuing genocide as ``part of a deliberate strategy.'' If there is a clear villain in this story, it is General Ratko Mladic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army. If there is a hero, it is certainly General Phillippe Morillon, of the UN forces, who valiantly attempted to save Srebrenica by personal initiative. Above all, Srebrenica questions the morality of the international community's policies in Bosnia. ``Was it right,'' the authors ask, ``to have opposed ethnic cleansing and instituted `safe areas' in eastern Bosnia, if one was unwilling to put one's life at risk to protect the people in those areas?'' Srebrenica is a penetrating and thoughtful response to this vexing and complex question. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140266321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140266320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Richard R on January 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Honig and Both are Dutch foreign policy specialists who take an academic approach to the massacre of Srebrenica in Bosnia in July 1995. Their detailed accounts of UN policy debates and genocidal Serb attacks on the civilian population leading to the expulsion of over 20,000 women and children and the murder of 6,000 Bosnian Muslim men clearly demonstrate the failure of the international community's tepid approach to peace-keeping and the responsibility of the military and political leaders involved. There were no heroes at Srebrenica, only variable levels of guilt. The book is dispassionate and slightly distanced from the moral implications of the massacre. It is indeed a `record of a war crime'.
The Bosnian Serbs, commanded by General Ratko Mladic and led politically by Radovan Karadzic (both indicted for war crimes by the Hague tribunal), carefully planned for weeks and months the reduction of the Srebrenica enclave. They had calculated the number of buses needed to transport the Muslim men to their killing fields, and they ordered the victims to remove their shoes before being shot in order to thwart identification.
The book is divided into three sections, describing the actual fall of Srebrenica; the slow slide of the international community into the "safe area" concept as a sort of least common denominator; and the months of military and political deterioration leading up to the massacre. There is criticism for everyone: the UN which viewed the safe areas as an interim solution and came to endorse them because Security Council members were unwilling and unable to agree on anything more substantive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Kelleher VINE VOICE on August 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
In July, 1995 the Bosnian Serb Army under command of General Ratko Mladic conquered the laughably-denominated "safe area" of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia, separated the women from the men, and then systematically slaughtered 8000 Muslim men. Thus, for the fourth time in the 20th Century, Christians carried out mass murder, on religious grounds, of non-Christians. The United Nations, whose charter makes it the protector of international peace and security and human rights, failed dismally for about the 200th time since its founding in 1945 (Cambodia and Rwanda are only two of the most grisly other failures).

It is fitting that this admirable book should be written by two Dutch academics, as the UN contingent in Srebrenica was a Dutch airborne battalion. Its performance was nothing to celebrate, but the Netherlands deserves credit for being the only country willing to put soldiers there. (The Clinton administration made loud moralistic noises, but contributed not a single soldier on the ground.) And in defense of the Dutch battalion, their position was made impossible by the cumbersome, timid, compromise-driven UN command structure. At the Serbs' insistence, they were allowed no heavy weapons and--incredibly--were refused helicopters, making re-supply possible only at the suffrance of the Serbs, who controlled all the ground routes in and out. The UN resolutions authorizing their presence were vague and contradictory, appearing to allow force only in defense of the UN personnel themselves, not the Bosnians. NATO was willing to supply fighter-bombers, but the UN authorization process was so gelatinous that air power never figured into the events in any significant way.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ramming on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As my title may suggest, I was surprised at how thorough and cogent an account this is of the July 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially considering that it was first published about a year after the events it describes (many of which the Bosnian Serbs went to great lengths to hide).
I followed the events in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 19991-95 as closely as I could through the news media (especially the New York Times) as they unfolded, and, like most outside observers, I was appalled and incensed at the seemingly murderous aggression of Serbs against the much less well-armed Croats and Muslims, and at the evident impotence of the UN and international community to do anything significant in the face of it. As I read this book I found myself recollecting many of the events reported at the time (pin-prick UN airstrikes; UN "peacekeepers" taken hostage as human shields by the Bosnian Serbs; satellite images of freshly bulldozed earth where the massacred Muslim males were buried in mass graves). The authors (Honig and Both), however, are able to narrate the events much more completely and coherently, and have clearly done some excellent research. They situate events in the greater Muslim-Serb-Croat fighting as well as from the international diplomatic perspective; and they provide superb on-the-ground detail.
One thing that becomes clear is that there was plenty of blame to go around, and that the "evil Serbs vs. virtuous Bosnian Muslims" paradigm that seemed so obvious at the time is not always valid. The Bosnian Muslims mounted continuous and often deadly raids from the Srebrenica "safe area" into the surrounding Serb villages which hardened a resolve for vengeance among the Bosnian Serbs.
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Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime
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