Baker & Taylor
Discusses the war in Bosnia, the U.N. contingents "standing by" as the genocide continues, and aid workers risking their lives to help victims
Blackwell North Amer
The war in Bosnia has confounded all our expectations. The end of the Cold War, most people imagined in 1989 and 1990, signaled the end of conflict in Europe. What Western Europeans already enjoyed - peace, prosperity, a common market - would be extended to countries like Yugoslavia. Like their neighbors in Croatia and Serbia, Bosnians - Croat, Serb, and Muslim alike - had the same expectations of the post-Communist era. Theirs was already a consumer culture, fueled by ever larger waves of tourists. In 1984, the Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo. That event seemed to presage the rosiest of futures.
But when the Yugoslavian state began to collapse, Bosnia collapsed with it. Ferocious ethnic and religious antagonisms - held beneath the surface by decades of Communist rule - were seized upon by ex-Communist politicians now turned nationalist, who, desperate to hold on to power, sold them with inceasing propaganda to a nervous population terrified as the civic order they had grown up with fell apart.
In 1991, war broke out in Croatia. In April 1992, it came to Bosnia. In reality, it was more slaughter than war. The siege of Sarajevo has gone on longer than any siege in modern history. And, as the world stood by, for the third time in twentieth-century Europe a small minority, this time not the Armenians or the Jews but the Muslims of Bosnia, underwent a genocide.
In a shocking and deeply disturbing tour de force, David Rieff - perhaps America's most acclaimed chronicler of displaced people, of lives in flux - journeys into the center of the war in Bosnia, a slaughterhouse made even more horrible by the failure of the West and its surrogate, the United Nations, to do anything to stop the genocide. Rieff follows the civilians, not the fighting. He vividly documents the way the Bosnians moved from their initial shock that this fate of murder and loss was really to be theirs, to their belief that the West, the United States in particular, would help them, to their ultimate, terrifying certainty that they would be left alone to their fate.
From the summer of 1992, soon after the fighting started, through the late fall of 1994, Rieff lived for extended periods in Bosnia. He spent prolonged time in Sarajevo, moved back and forth across the front lines, and rode on the convoys that, often under fire, attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to the civilian population. He chronicles the heroism and bitterness of the aid workers and staffers of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who knew, even as they tried to help, that their efforts were being used as a pretext for not intervening by the British and French in particular, and by United Nations bureaucrats.
Slaughterhouse is both an unforgettable account of what the events in Bosnia during the last three years looked like from the ground and an unforgiving portrait of war, the first in Europe since the end of World War II, and of a genocide that might have been prevented and could have been stopped.
Offering a disturbing story of moral collapse, a portrait of the post-Cold War war in Bosnia reveals the U.N. contingents "standing by" as the genocide continues and aid workers risking their lives to help victims. 30,000 first printing. Tour.