Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Sarajevo Daily" by Tom Gjelten [12]

Chapter 10: A Loser's Peace
With the international reaction to two well-publicized incidents where large numbers of civilians were killed by mortar fire came the beginning of the end of the war in Sarajevo. Under extreme pressure, even from their Russian allies, the Serb nationalist army finally agreed to pull back their heavy weapons and essentially end the siege in exchange for promises that the Bosnian army would not counter-attack.

But while the shooting, shelling, and killing were over, it would be very wrong to say that life was "returning to normal." What had been normal in prewar Sarajevo was gone. The city, like Oslobodjenje, had survived, but the cost had been high. Many residents had trouble adjusting to postwar life, including the radical reworking of social relations. The rise of the military as an important institution, the replacement of many former residents by conservative rural refugees, and the increasing power of Muslim nationalism and the SDA all contributed to a new social order in which angry teenage gangs roamed the streets and Serbs who had remained loyal to the Bosnian state found themselves being ostracized simply for not being Muslim.

Oslobodjenje continued publication, now increasingly as an opponent of the government rather than a supporter. Ethnic cleansing continued in Serb-held parts of Bosnia. Ethnic separation would not go away once the war ended. Sarajevo, and Oslobodjenje, survived, but the values both had embodied were not so certain to return.

*************

This is the end of the book. There is no epilogue or conclusion, and since the book was published in 1995 it ends before the war--and the final orgy of genocide in eastern Bosnia--did. I regret that this review took so long--the book is actually a brisk and enjoyable read; it's only my own distraction with graduate school and family life which has dragged this out so far. I highly recommend this book to people interested in either life in Sarajevo during the war, or the role of a free press in wartime or when democracy and secular freedom are under attack.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Kirk, no regrets, we all understand the problems that day-to-day life imposes. I'm very grateful to you for that introduction to what sounds a very true to life account of the impact of life under siege on people generally and on their mouthpiece.