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Paperback They Would Never Hurt a Fly Book

ISBN: 0349117756

ISBN13: 9780349117751

They Would Never Hurt a Fly

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. "Who were they? Ordinary people like you or me--or monsters?" asks internationally acclaimed author Slavenka Drakulic as she sets out to understand the people behind the horrific crimes committed...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Good Read

From a reader's, not a literary critic's perspective, this is a very interesting book. It does become a bit confusing to follow the "Who's Who" of the Balkan War, so it is beneficial to have read previous works about the infamous struggle. The author has injected the book with personal anectodes of the many criminals facing the International Court of Justice and their victims. I mostly enjoyed her observations and analysis regarding the human potential for cruelty in the last pages of the book. Good read.

Biased, but good.

These stories of people on trial, or yet-to-be-captured, for war crimes and crimes against humanity are a good introduction to the way in which war screws people up. Even good-natured, everybody's pal, types of people become animals when handed a weapon and absolute power to use it. Blood is like any other drug. It creates a dependency, an addiction, that has to be sated. Ms. Drakulic obviously has her sympathies with the Croats and the Bosnians who were brutalized by the Serbs. This, however, does not detract from her ability to tell a good story about some of the most inhuman behavior we have witnessed in our lifetimes, and to portray the perpetrators as the demons that may lurk inside any of us, to be unleashed if and when circumstances allow. The same demons ruled in Rwanda for quite a blood-feast. They still command much of Sudan. Liberia and Sierra Leone are only licking their wounds now. While much will likely be written about those places, and some good work has already been done to document the crimes there, I don't think we'll ever see justice in the Hague or any other court for the people who carried out those massacres. Thank God Ms. Drakulic had a court in which to base her accounts of the Yugoslav slaughter. Can you keep your demons bottled up? For now? For ever?

The Balkan tragedy and the mass murderers on trial

Subtitled "War Criminals on Trial in the Hague", this 2004 book is the third that I've read by Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic. Born in 1949 and growing up under communism in the former Yugoslavia, she never expected that Communism would collapse and she'd be thrust into a war where formerly friendly neighbors started murdering each other. More than 200,000 people were killed during the Balkan wars in the early 1990s and there are over 80 people now in The Hague on trial for war crimes. Ms. Drakulic recently spent a full five months observing her trials. And this book is the result of her observations. The trails are poorly attended. Sometimes she was the only observer there. The people on trial come from various backgrounds and from different countries. Each has been accused of mass murder. And they all were surprised to be arrested, thinking themselves as heroes, not as criminals. Thus is the way of war. The book is short, a mere 206 pages, broken into 13 different chapters, each chapter dealing with a different person. Of course there is a chapter on Slobodan Milosevic as well as his wife Mira, who was the most feared woman in Serbia, writing a column that could end someone's political career or sending a person to prison. But there are also chapters on lesser known war criminals. What about the soldier who was assigned to the killer squad which did nothing but shoot bound and blindfolded prisoners who were delivered to their place of murder by bus? And what about the soldier who made sport of going into the prisoner's barracks and selecting out a few each night for torture and murder? There are people on trial who gave the command to murder thousands. And lesser known criminals who do not have anyone willing to step forward and accuse them. One interesting fact is that these people are all in a detainee center together now awaiting trial. They are not fighting each other though. To all intents and purposes they are friendly and cordial to each other, getting along well and seemingly forgetting the horror that they have recently inflicted on each other. All this is told through the author's eyes, of course. She discusses her own life and uses it as a mirror to better understand the minds of the accused people. She respected and feared her father, not unusual in her country. She was friends with people of different ethnic groups. And, most of all, she never thought that such bloodshed could happen in the country she loved and had her life disrupted by the war. This book is also a personal examination of her own feelings. This is a good book although sometimes not pleasant to read. But I do acknowledge the author for writing it. And, for me, it definitely did shed some light on the recent tragedy in the Balkans.

Five stars if your a big fan of Slavenka Drakulic

This is kind of a chick-flick version of the war trials. Most chapters are personality profiles of an individual war criminal. Most of those discussed are already convicted. Karadzic is not covered at all, Milosevic and his wife each rate their own chapter, and Mladic is portrayed as (I kid you not) a Greek tragic figure. Usually only the crimes for which the subjects have been convicted are mentioned; I'm not sure if this adds or detracts from the book. Make no mistake, this is prose, not journalism; you buy this book to read Slavenka's writing, not to learn anything. There are no pictures although the physical appearance of the characters is continuously mentioned. The jacket photo of Drakulic is the worst I have ever seen of the woman; it's scary. All in all, this is a book for those familiar with the events and who wish a more personal insight, it is not a book for anyone wishing to learn the hard facts and events of the ICTY.
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