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Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic Hardcover – July 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (July 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822347466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822347460
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[An] amazing book. . . . Armatta . . . has brought a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the Balkans from previous work in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. In her observations, she proves to be an acute student of law, character, strategy, and history. . . . [T]his is a wonderful and important book. Armatta has captured not only the sights and sounds of the court, but also of the Balkans itself, and the book emerges analyzing the biggest themes of international justice. It has enormous implications for the future. . . . Every practitioner and student of international relations should read Armatta’s book.” - Wesley Clark, Washington Monthly


"Will Armatta’s book, or others like it, get us any closer to achieving what is arguably the most valuable and probably the most realisable objective of these courts, which would be to lay out a record of evidence that could be used to justify earlier and more decisive political and military action in future conflicts with a similar potential for war crimes? We can hope so." - Geoffrey Nice, London Review of Books


“[Armatta’s] is the front-row view of a first-rate court reporter, giving the reader a TiVo-like version, culled of dead space and repetition, that is still exhausting in its arduous pace and detail. Diligently, she watched and recorded as the court probed all three charges from Kosovo, back through the Croatian and Bosnian wars, tediously piling up the evidence as Milosevic bobbed and weaved. One comes away half heartened by the effort to answer unspeakable cruelty and suffering with justice but, in a way, more saddened by Milosevic's slippery success in persuading his partisans and many of his countrymen that they, not he, were on trial, the victims of great power bullies.“ - Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs


“Armatta’s encyclopedic compendium is impeccably researched, meticulous, detailed, prudent, and careful. It distinguishes itself as a must-read.” - Mark A. Drumbl, Law and Politics Book Review


“As the only independent lawyer to have monitored and reported regularly from the Milosevic trial courtroom from its first day, Judith Armatta has produced an unparalleled, firsthand account of the first truly international war crimes trial of a national leader. She captures the courtroom atmosphere and personalities with a thoroughly engaging reportorial style, but brings her legal and regional expertise to bear in explaining and analyzing important testimony and judicial decisions. Twilight of Impunity is not only a singular history of the trial, but a compelling narrative of the major battles and convoluted diplomatic struggles of the Balkan wars. The book is filled with previously unreported insights arising from the testimony of major figures of the era, including Milosevic, former world leaders, NATO officials, victims, judges and prosecutors. A compelling and thorough source of unconventional wisdom on the trial and its impact, this book must be read by anyone hoping to understand the Balkans and the new era of international war crimes trials.”—Nina Bang-Jensen, former Executive Director/Counsel, Coalition for International Justice


“In Twilight of Impunity, Judith Armatta has done for the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the Butcher of the Balkans, what Hannah Arendt did for the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Architect of the Holocaust: present an unflinching depiction of the crimes, the anguish of the victims and witnesses, the arrogance of the killers, the virtues and flaws of the judicial process, and the banality of the evil that can arise when leaders assume they enjoy impunity.”—Chuck Sudetic, author of Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia and co-author of Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity


“Judith Armatta spent three incredible years with a front row seat in the trial that many hope will signal a beginning of the end to impunity. Through this book the reader is granted a rare privilege to share Judith’s journey through the trial of Milosevic. As such, Twilight of Impunity serves as an indispensable cornerstone to the historical record of the Yugoslav conflict, and is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand how and why genocide returned to Europe.”—Paul R. Williams, Rebecca I. Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations, American University Washington College of Law


“[An] amazing book. . . . Armatta . . . has brought a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the Balkans from previous work in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. In her observations, she proves to be an acute student of law, character, strategy, and history. . . . [T]his is a wonderful and important book. Armatta has captured not only the sights and sounds of the court, but also of the Balkans itself, and the book emerges analyzing the biggest themes of international justice. It has enormous implications for the future. . . . Every practitioner and student of international relations should read Armatta’s book.”
(Wesley Clark, Washington Monthly)

“[Armatta’s] is the front-row view of a first-rate court reporter, giving the reader a TiVo-like version, culled of dead space and repetition, that is still exhausting in its arduous pace and detail. Diligently, she watched and recorded as the court probed all three charges from Kosovo, back through the Croatian and Bosnian wars, tediously piling up the evidence as Milosevic bobbed and weaved. One comes away half heartened by the effort to answer unspeakable cruelty and suffering with justice but, in a way, more saddened by Milosevic's slippery success in persuading his partisans and many of his countrymen that they, not he, were on trial, the victims of great power bullies.“
(Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs)

“Armatta’s encyclopedic compendium is impeccably researched, meticulous, detailed, prudent, and careful. It distinguishes itself as a must-read.”
(Mark A. Drumbl, Law and Politics Book Review)

"Will Armatta’s book, or others like it, get us any closer to achieving what is arguably the most valuable and probably the most realisable objective of these courts, which would be to lay out a record of evidence that could be used to justify earlier and more decisive political and military action in future conflicts with a similar potential for war crimes? We can hope so."
(Geoffrey Nice, London Review of Books)

"Armatta is quite evenhanded in her description of the court and its procedures."
(William Pruitt H-Genocide)

About the Author

Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist, and human-rights advocate who monitored the trial of Slobodan Milosevic on behalf of the Coalition for International Justice. Her dispatches from The Hague appeared in Tribunal Update, published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Monitor, a magazine of political commentary published in Montenegro; the International Herald Tribune; and the Chicago Tribune. Prior to her work in The Hague, Armatta worked for the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative, opening offices in Belgrade, Serbia (in 1997) and Montenegro (in 1999). During the Kosova War, she headed a War Crimes Documentation Project among Kosovar Albanian refugees in Macedonia. Armatta currently consults on international humanitarian, human rights, and other rule-of-law issues, most recently in the Middle East. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark bennett on January 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The author was a firsthand viewer of the Milosevic war crimes trial. She was involved in human rights in the Balkans for some years before the trial. She has a good understanding of events. The trail of Milosevic dragged out a long time and eventually Milosevic died in custody. The book, as with the trial, added little new understanding to the wars and war crimes of Serbia/Milosevic. But the author is very critical of the trial and those criticisms raise important questions about the whole concept of international tribunals.

The author seems to see the flaws in the proceedings as being that it was a trial and that attempted to follow the norms of law. She takes particular offense at the court for allowing Milosevic to mount a defense. But ultimately, rather than a problem of court procedure, she is raising questions about how these matters should be dealt with.

She doesn't seem to see these trails as being about an actual trial of an individual. Rather, the trial is about creating a legal and historical record of the crimes the individual was involved in. Guilt is established by the indictment. A defense is an unnecessary waste of time. Rules of evidence and procedure simply get in the way of the truth.

Armatta would have seemed to have favored a political show trial. Put him a cage in court, do not allow him to speak, and have the court appoint a lawyer who will decide a defense for him and speak for him on all occasions. The usual reasoning for having a lawyer represent a client in court is that the lawyer will be more effective than the defendent. But in this particular case, the opposite seemed to be true. The author was against him being his own lawyer because he was effective in the role.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jo Larsen on September 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written and insightful look at Slobodan Milosevic and his place in the history of the Balkans. While it is an academic tome of great value, it is also written in a style that holds the attention of the average reader. In this book, Armatta offers us a front row seat to history in the making. While we know the outcome, the writer engages us from the beginning, not only explaining for the lay person the legal machinations, but giving voice to the victims of the Balkan wars. She also makes clear that, while the trial was not perfect, it served as a groundbreaking precedent in international law and justice. Being the first of its kind, the trial now serves as a lesson from which to learn in future international criminal trials. Perhaps this trial really was the "Twilight of Impunity" for the despots of the world. We can but hope. A must read for anyone hoping to understand the Balkan wars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! From the first pages, I was drawn into this fascinating narrative that reads as much like a courtroom mystery or epic novel as a political history. The author did a fantastic job telling the story of this landmark trial, and its legacy for international justice, while weaving in the back story, the underlying history of the Balkan wars. This is by far the best book I've found for understanding the complex history of Balkan wars and war crimes that rocked the rest of Europe and the world during the 1990's and continues to haunt us today.

While this book may be something of a classic for international legal scholars, human rights activists, and East European history buffs, I am none of these, and found it a great read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes to stay reasonably informed about major world events, as well as anyone who just like a grand, absorbing story.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lois Courtney on October 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I came to read Judith Armatta's book, Twilight of Impunity, out of an interest in the possibilities of international justice and the UN sponsored International Courts. Milosevic was the first major leader of a country to be tried in this venue. Like many Americans, I didn't understand or know much about the tragic wars of the Balkans. Fortunately, Judith Armatta's book easily filled my many historical gaps in a readable, accessible and lucid way.

The trial began in 2002 and ended with Milosevic's death in 2006. The book follows the course of the trial, first exploring the period leading up to the war and then focusing in turn on Kosova, Croatia and finally Bosnia. As documents and witnesses are presented, Armatta provides the corresponding historical context, drawing on both trial information and numerous other sources. Her recounting of the trial organizes the narrative, and also provides a riveting and insightful look at the struggles of this nascent court to contend with the masterful manipulations of Milosevic.

Armatta passionately defends the trial's importance to the victims, arguing that they deserve international recognition of their suffering, documentation of the conflicts, and are entitled to see their oppressors punished. Although this book is certainly scholarly, Armatta's background in law allows her to enhance our understanding with astute legal observations and the entire book has a compelling momentum and intrigue, especially the chapters that discuss the case for genocide and the complications of the "defense" Milosevic mismanages to his own detriment.

As a previously uninformed reader, I can recommend this book to others wanting enlightened, informed, and easily readable access to the history of this war torn area, in the context of a sometimes suspenseful and politically significant trial. Also, this book gives us a sense of both the possibilities and limitations of the Tribunal itself.
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