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Slavenka Drakulic attended the Serbian war crimes trial in the Hague. This important book is about how ordinary people commit terrible crimes in wartime. With extraordinary story-telling skill Drakulic draws us in to this difficult subject. We cannot turn away from her subject matter because her writing is so engaging, lively and compelling. From the monstrous Slobodan Milosevich and his evil Lady Macbeth of a wife to humble Serb soldiers who claim they were 'just obeying orders', Drakulic brilliantly enters the minds of the killers. There are also great stories of bravery and survival, both from those who helped Bosnians escape from the Serbs and from those who risked their lives to help them.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349117751
ISBN-10: 0349117756
Format: Paperback
(200mm x 171mm x 13mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 20-Dec-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Croatian expatriate Drakulic (S., 2000, etc.) offers a philosophically charged indictment of onetime Yugoslavians now standing before the International War Crimes Tribunal. Ordinary people do not commit monstrous crimes; and because we are ordinary people, we could not have committed monstrous crimes in the past. So goes the human impulse to explain away atrocities; so goes the refusal, throughout the former Yugoslavia, to admit that something horrible happened not so very long ago. "But once you get closer to the real people who committed those crimes," writes the Croatian expatriate Drakulic, "you see that the syllogism doesn't really work." Ordinary people do indeed do terrible things. Sitting in a courtroom in The Hague, Drakulic searches their faces and their files for signs of madness, an explanation for their deeds as something other than a sick response to peer pressure or a cosmic dare. (Explaining why those 80 or so men-and a couple of women-shed their ordinary lives to become killers is of paramount importance, Drakulic holds, because otherwise they will be eulogized as war heroes back home.) Their trials are dull matters, she admits, a far cry from the witty back-and-forth of Hollywood film, but from them bits and pieces of truth emerge. Some of the killers are pathological, likely murderers in peacetime or war, but otherwise the proverbial guy next door; in the title essay, one defendant, in his mid-20s at the time of slaughtering more than a hundred people in a single month in 1992, remarks, "It is nice to kill people this way. I kill them nicely. I don't feel anything." Others, such as the former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic, killed (or had others kill) out of ambition: in Milosevic's case, it appears that he thought war would keep him in power. Others were bureaucrats, anxious to please the boss. Still others merely went with the flow. And thousands died. Take it from Drakulic: Ordinary people suck. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Slavenka Drakulic

Slavenka Drakulic, born in Croatia in 1949, is a writer and journalist whose works have been translated into many languages. She contributes to THE NEW REPUBLIC, LA STAMPA, DAGENS NYHETER, FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU and the OBSERVER and her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. She writes in both Croatian and English.

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