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Madness Visible: A Memoir of War Paperback – February 8, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"[An] unforgettable account. . . . Vivid, compassionate prose. . . . Few writers can match her evocations of individual suffering in wartime." —Newsweek (International Edition)

“Many journalists have written accounts of the wars of Yugoslav dissolution. Madness Visible is among the best of them. . . . One of Giovanni’s strengths is that if she takes sides it is simply the side of the victim. . . . Succeeds admirably.” –Times Literary Supplement

“A compelling and meticulous account. . . . The author is at her very best when she writes about the people. . . . When di Giovanni speaks of Sarajevo –and she does speak, her voice poignant, grief admixed with rage and frustration– it is gripping.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Compelling reportage at its best: grisly and depressing at times, of course, but also revealing.” –The Economist

“One of the best books ever written about war.” --The Arizona Republic

"Moving. . . . Janine di Giovanni is our Virgil, guiding us through the circles of that man-made hell: Sarajevo, Kosovo, Pristina. . . . If you read no other book about the Balkan wars, read this one. " --Phil Caputo

“[An] important book. . . . There are few outsiders who better understand what has happened in the Balkans. . . . Madness Visible is the story of all wars.” --The Guardian (London)

"Di Giovanni connects names and battles as well as peoples who have a historic distrust of one another. . . . This is di Giovanni's one war, and she passionately documents its inhumanity." --The New York Times

“Illuminating. . . . [Her] stream-of-consciousness approach . . . imbues the book with its quiet but undeniable emotional power. . . . [Despite the] gloom that pervades each page, these accounts remain compelling because of Di Giovanni’s resolve to grasp each individual’s frail sense of hope and shattered human dignity.” --.San Antonio Express-News

“Remarkable. . . . A powerful, passionate account, and well worth the waiting for.” --The Times (London)

"Janine di Giovanni has described war in a way that almost makes me think it never needs to be described again. . . . More than a book about war, however, this is a book about the human race, in all its anguishing complexity. I can honestly say that I finished this book a wiser, more compassionate person than when I started." --Sebastian Junger

“Powerful. . . . Moving. . . . Full of gripping reportage about the horrors of life during wartime.” --Newsday

"The veteran reporter has a keen eye for detail and dialogue [while] . . . delving . . . substantially into the political, historical and ethnic tensions contributing to the 1992-95 war. . . . While di Giovanni looks back, however, she is aware that others do not. . . . Madness Visible reminds us of the folly and shame in this neglect." --The Washington Post

“Janine di Giovanni is superb--an extraordinarily brave war correspondent and a wonderful writer as well. What a combination!” --William Shawcross

"Excellent. . . . Di Giovanni depicts just how unsatisfactory, even crazy, the 'peace' in Kosovo is. . . . Her descriptive talents are at their best when her eye comes to rest on the plight of civilians. . . . Don't read this book for its analysis of Balkan politics, which you can get elsewhere, but for its very humane portrait of fighters, refugees and victims." --The Daily Telegraph (London)

"An embedded journalist before the term was invented. . . . [Di Giovanni] provides a haunting record of the continuing war in the Balkans." --Harper's Bazaar

"Powerful. . . . The images are unforgettable and di Giovanni writes movingly, with no need for embellishment, about . . . the insanity and irrationality of human behavior. Read this book and you may begin to understand what war looks and feels like, or even smells like." --The Spectator

"Chilling. . . . [Di Giovanni's] courage is matched only by her compassion for her subjects. . . . She is a woman who simply doesn't know the meaning of the word 'can't' and in her profession that's a major asset." --The Evening Standard (London)

“Should be read . . . for an understanding of the depravity of Balkan wars of ethnic cleansing . . . [and for the] insights [it] offer[s] into the world of war correspondents working at the razor’s edge of their profession.” --Columbia Journalism Review

"Affecting. . . . Her account reflects both her passionate engagement with the people and her own sense of deep loss in this place." --The Hartford Advocate

From the Inside Flap

From an internationally celebrated war correspondent, a searing firsthand chronicle–told with extraordinary immediacy–of the ordeal of the Balkan people during the continuing breakup of Yugoslavia.

As a reporter for The Times of London, Janine di Giovanni found herself a close witness to the cycles of violence and vengeance in cities and villages, in refugee camps, in slapped-together hospitals, and in the homes of citizens under siege. She begins her story in May 1999 in Kosovo. The world believes the Balkan wars are over, but violence persists. She follows the arc of the war from its earliest days through the staggering experience of the people who endured it: soldiers numbed by–and inured to–the atrocities they commit, women driven to despair by their life in paramilitary rape camps, civilians (di Giovanni among them) caught in bombing raids of uncertain origin, babies murdered in hate-induced rage.

She searches for the motives of the leaders who created this hell: Slobodan Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic, and such crucial though less well-known figures as Nikola Koljevic, who directed the siege–and accomplished the destruction–of Sarajevo, the city he claimed to love.

Di Giovanni's story raises profoundly challenging questions: What can cause neighbors who have lived peacefully side by side for centuries to turn against one another with mindless brutality? What becomes of survivors when the fabric of an age-old community is destroyed? How should other governments react to mass murder in a neighboring country?

Acutely perceptive, unflinching, making the madness of war visible, this is an important work of reportage from the physical and psychological front lines.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage (February 8, 2005)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0375724559
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0375724558
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 25 ratings

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
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Top reviews from other countries

Maggy Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars ... horrifying and traumatic account of much evil and some good..
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 6, 2016
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Mr P Wolstenholme
5.0 out of 5 stars Inhumanity
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2013
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5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness Human
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 28, 2021
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rory j
5.0 out of 5 stars good book - well worth reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2016
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4.0 out of 5 stars The book is very interesting, although difficult at times ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 8, 2017
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