Seeking a definitive account of the siege of Sarajevo
September 24, 2013 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for definitive nonfiction accounts of the siege of Sarajevo. Preferably a history or a work of journalism, not a memoir or polemic--although a well-reported one might be OK.

Something along the lines of Sarajevo Daily. Alternatively, a book about the entire war with a few good chapters on Sarajevo would also work.

posted by elizeh to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps Joe Sacco's work might be of interest? The Fixer is about Sarajevo, though not a history of the siege. Safe Area GoraĹžde is related, though not about Sarajevo.
posted by eviemath at 6:28 AM on September 24, 2013

Best answer: Love Thy Neighbor by Peter Maas is an incredible Book. Maas covered the war as a reporter for the Washington Post, but this book is much more personal than that. The book follows him through cities and episodes in the war, and describes the people he met along the way and the stories they told him. The portraits of the individuals are vivid and moving, their stories are often difficult but important to hear.

Maas was one of a generation of reporters who went to the former Yugoslavia, saw what was happening, and reported on it with an expectation that the world would notice and something would be done. When he returned to the US he wrote this book to tell the story in a way that he hadn't been able to previously.

The book is beautifully written as well as informative. It has a place on the relatively short shelf of the books I've read that have been most important to me in my life.
posted by alms at 6:55 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Seconding Love Thy Neighbor. I read a chapter of it in a collection of works on genocide and immediately sought it out. It is a rare book that makes me shed tears but this one did. And it is rare that I write a note to an author but I did to Mr. Maass. This is an extraordinary book.
posted by janey47 at 7:04 AM on September 24, 2013

Best answer: Kemal Kurspahic's Letters From the War (1992) or even better, his As Long As Sarajevo Exists (1997) --- Kurspahic is a journalist with an international reputation, and was editor of Sarajevo's largest daily newspaper throughout the four years of the war.
posted by easily confused at 7:17 AM on September 24, 2013

Thirding Peter Maas and Love Thy Neighbour, I'm happy to read here that it has other fans.

I read it many years ago, and have a terrible memory for books, but there are still things that come back to me regularly from those pages. Most hauntingly, for some reason, I often recall his humbling observation, on noticing how a school hall full of refugees smelled like a farmyard, that for all our pretensions as humans we are only ever a few showers away from our animal cousins. It wasn't so much a statement on personal hygiene, as a powerful observation on the complete debasement of living through war.

Thanks for the reminder that I must re-read it.
posted by penguin pie at 7:45 AM on September 24, 2013

given that Dee Xtrovert lived through it, perhaps she would have some recommendations?
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am reading Logavina Street by Barbara Demick right now, and it's quite good. It was just re-issued.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:13 PM on September 24, 2013

Best answer: I don't know if it is available, but the Washington Post did a long series of articles while it was happening that glued me to my chair.

What was really interesting to me was how the coverage kept mentioning how well the different ethnic groups in Sarajevo were cooperating and then faded that out after Vukovar.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:51 PM on September 24, 2013

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