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The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) Paperback – December 10, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0520216624 ISBN-10: 0520216628

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A Serbian American professor of religion, Sells (Mystical Languages of Unsaying, Univ. of Chicago, 1994) explores all angles surrounding the recent systematic destruction of the Bosnian Muslims. He lays down a solid background of the origins of the war and explains the Serbian attitude that religion equals nationality, which shows why the Serbs believe the Muslims are traitorous to their country. Sells also describes Croatia's role in the conflict. Along with some fascinating reports and details on the genocide, he spends the final two chapters blasting the UN, NATO, and the West for not becoming more involved in stopping the crimes against the Bosnians. His work is recommended for all academic and large public libraries for its ability to explain this confusing war clearly.?Jill Jaracz, Professionals Lib. Service, Chicago
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Sells's well-written, impassioned, and informed book represents a deepening of the ongoing discourse about the collapse of Yugoslavia."--"Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • Series: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society (Book 11)
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (December 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520216628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520216624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I cried as I read it.
schooltymer
This strategy turned out to be very successful because it unleashed the extermination of Bosnian Muslims.
Srebrenica Forever
This book is awesome and very accurate.
Matthew Nelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Unlike other accounts of the recent wars in the Balkans, Michael Sells' book does not merely chronicle the events that led to the catastrophe. The value of this fine work lies in the author's ability to present the underlying ideas, cultural constructs and religious passions that have flamed the genocide in Bosnia. The author focuses mostly on the Serb-Orthodox construct of Christoslavism, but also shows how the Western prejudices against the region have allowed genocide to occur in Europe at the end of the twentieth century. Resting on well-documented research (over fifty pages of footnotes plus appendices), it is an erudite and passionate argument for kindness and humanity towards those less fortunate than us.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Srebrenica Forever on February 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although of Serbian origin, Michael Sells offers a detailed, unbiased and honest analysis of Serbian nationalism and Christian fundamentalism. Sells argues that Christian mythology and extremism helped enable the annihilation of an entire people. Driven by an ancient hatred for the Turks which dates back to the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Serbs have always viewed Muslims as their primary adversary. Today, many Serbian nationalists deliberately associate Bosnian Muslims with the Ottomans even though no such link exists. However, this is sophisticated propaganda, the goal of which is to mislead the Serbian people and to induce hatred in them. This strategy turned out to be very successful because it unleashed the extermination of Bosnian Muslims. Numerous testimonies offered by the survivors of the Bosnian war lend considerable support to Sells' thesis, namely that Christian extremism played a pivotal role in justifying the genocide of Bosnian Muslims. For example, many survivors reported being called "bloody Turks" by Serbs soldiers. Other similar derogatory slurs were frequently used by Serb soldiers, revealing great hatred for Muslims. Moreover, a systematic destruction of mosques and other Islamic architecture indicate that the Serbs wanted to obliterate every single trace of Islam in Bosnia. The fact that every single mosque has been destroyed in Republika Srpska speaks for itself. Conversely, many churches remain intact in the area controlled by the Bosnian government. In point of fact, only a few churches have been destroyed. It needs to be pointed out that Croats also purposely targeted historical monuments, as is evident in their destruction of Stari Most, the infamous old bridge in Mostar, the symbolic significance of which cannot be overstressed.Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward Bosnar on February 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
My relatively high rating for "The Bridge Betrayed" is more a reflection of my agreement with the author's stance than praise for the strength of his arguments. The strongest aspect of this book is the keen analysis and refutation of the key arguments used by both Serb and Croat nationalists to justify their actions in Bosnia-Herzegovina (aimed primarily against the Bosnian Muslims). He correctly notes the frequent contradictions involved in such racial stereotyping and he coins a term, "Christoslavism," to denote the merger of national and religious identity among both the Serbs and Croats. Sells explains that Christoslavic Serbs and Croats found it easy to demonize the Muslim Slavs of Bosnia as apostates and traitors to their Slav race. While this argument has merit and goes some way to explaining the hatred and violence in Bosnia, it does not explain the key national conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the one that more than any other led to its collapse: the conflict between the Croats and Serbs (indeed, Sells largely ignores the 1991 war in Croatia, although it was a full-scale, bloody dress rehearsal for Bosnia, with the Yugoslav Army and Serb paramilitaries honing the methods they would "perfect" in Bosnia later). Although much ethnic and religious stereotyping is involved in the mutual animosities between these two groups, it does not fit into the Christoslavic framework, simply because it is a matter of two Christian Slavic peoples. This leads to another, more important flaw: Sells' analysis is limited as an explanation, perhaps because he limits his focus on Bosnia. For even while it explains many of the hows and whys of the war in Bosnia, i.e.Read more ›
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Michael Sells has written an important book that ranges the history of Bosnia from the days of the Ottoman invasion leading to the war that tore apart the Balkans. Few people have read Sells' book, but it is intensely readable and is instrumental in anyone's comprehension of what really caused the carnage of the Balkan War. He acknowledges the complexity of the region, and does not pretend to portray a comprehensive view of the war from a purely objective stance. Those who pretend to be objective, he says, are naive at best. He therefore limits his explanation of the war through the lens of religion, and the role it played as a catalyst to the outbreak of hostilities. If you cannot spend time in Bosnia, talking to the people there, seeing the mass graves that litter the countryside-- reading this book is a good beginning in developing a basic understanding of what occured there and why.
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