This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace; Good People in an Evil Time: Portraits of Complicity and Resistance in the Bosnian War

In This Review

This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace

By Swanee Hunt
Duke University Press, 2004
344 pp. $29.95
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Good People in an Evil Time: Portraits of Complicity and Resistance in the Bosnian War

By Svetlana Broz; Edited by Laurie Kain Hart; Translated by Ell
Other Press, 2005
320 pp. $30.00
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Books that report the experiences of people who have been the victims of history and survived -- sometimes by their own efforts, sometimes by chance, sometimes by shady compromises -- rarely get serious review treatment. They should. Hunt, who was President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Austria, has put together interviews with 26 Bosnian women. They come from different backgrounds but share an emotional strength and a generosity of spirit, a dignity and humanity, that together make the case for a greater role for women in the politics of their societies -- and make the rest of the world's hesitancy to intervene to defend human rights in Bosnia very hard to justify. Broz -- a granddaughter of Marshal Tito who worked as a physician in Bosnia during the war -- has collected interviews that, as the anthropologist Laurie Kain Hart points out in her introduction, provide a description of a "full social universe" and an account of "social networks through which people survive when there is no public space and no public protection or resource" -- when all that is left amid a Hobbesian state of nature are the "rituals of hospitality" and the importance of the home. Hart's account of Svetlana Broz's career and experiences is shattering, and what emerges from the testimonies is a picture of "nationalism as a sickness" and a clear sense of the difficulty of re-creating unity "in a traumatized and segmented society."