Until I happened on this book, I didn't know that I was interested in what it was like to be a Serb while NATO was bombing Serbia (and Milosevic's troops were slaughtering Albanians in Kosovo). As much as Tesanovic despised what Milosovich and other Serbian nationalists were doing (in her name), she was also outraged by the casual acceptance of "collateral damage," that is, the destruction of civilian targets (including one that counted: the PRC embassy in Belgrade) and killing of civilians by carefully targeted NATO (US) bombs.
Tesanovic uses "idiot" in an ancient Greek sense, as meaning a common personwho cannot be trusted to make public decisions: "I am unable to make judgements. I see no options I can identiy with.... All the political options sound aggressive, stupid or far-fetched compared to my simple needs" as a mother. "I don't feel safe here, or happy, or free. I'm a refugee in my own city." Belgrade is/was a city with refugees from the "ethnic cleansing" of Croatia, even as Serbs engaged in "cleansing" of Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. The Serbian nationalists considered Tesanovic a traitor; she considered them dangerously deluded and criminal. "In my country," she wrote, "uniforms always take away the power of speech from citizens, because uinforms carry guns, and citizens carry fear, so there is a permanent civil war going on between uniforms and civilians.
Although she defended foreign intervention again national barbarism, she was far from enthusiastic about the sanctimoniousness of the forces of civilization.Her despairing analyses of those in Serbian and in UN uniforms are acute, but what is most fascinating about the book is the detail about everyday life: a female cousin dying of AIDS, other women deciding to have abortion from concern with the toxins they have been exposed to from bombed buildings, the children with no school getting bored and ever more unmanageable in the dark, intermitent electricity, visits from friends whose water supply has been cut off.