Thursday, 2 December 2010

Help! My wish list #1

As anticipated, here are the first two titles on my reading wish list.

** The cover images are for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of any of these books for review, I will change the cover(s) so as to reflect the edition received. **

Impossible Country: Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia
By Brian Hall

Amazon’s product description: Brian Hall journeyed through Yugoslavia in the spring and summer of 1991, just as Croatia and Slovenia were seceding and the country was starting to slide into civil war. In this book he describes a country in which the release of communism's iron grip and a wave of rumour and propaganda had reopened older wounds, turning uneasy co-existence between the various national and religious communities into open hostility. His conversations - with farmers, artists, defence fighters, politicians - demonstrate how intelligent, liberal citizens can be persuaded to believe the very worst of another person, merely because that person is a Serb, or a Croat, or a Muslim. The author was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for "Stealing From a Deep Place: Travels in South-Eastern Europe".

This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace
By Swanee Hunt

Amazon’s product description: This Was Not Our War shares first-person accounts of twenty-six Bosnian women faced with reconstructing their society following years of devastating warfare. A university student working to resettle refugees, an engineer and paramedic who founded a veterans' aid group, a fashion designer running two non-profit organizations, a government minister and professor who survived Auschwitz - these women are advocates, politicians, farmers, journalists, students, doctors, businesswomen, engineers, mothers, and daughters. They are from all parts of Bosnia and represent the full range of ethnic traditions and mixed heritages. Their ages spread across sixty years, and their wealth ranges from expensive jewels to a few chickens. For all their differences, they have this much in common: each survived the war with enough emotional strength to work toward rebuilding their country. Together, their perspectives provide a complex portrait of the war as well as possibilities for peace. Ambassador Swanee Hunt met many of these women through her diplomatic and humanitarian work in the 1990s. Over the course of seven years, she conducted multiple interviews with each woman. In This Was Not Our War, she explains some of the history and circumstances surrounding the Bosnian conflict, and she provides a narrative framework that connects the women's stories, allowing them to speak to one another. The women describe what it was like living in a vibrant multicultural community that suddenly imploded in an onslaught of violence. They relate the chaos; the atrocities, including the rapes of many neighbours and friends; the hurried decisions whether to stay or flee; the extraordinary efforts to care for children and elderly parents and to find food and clean drinking water. Reflecting on the causes of the war, they vehemently reject the idea that age-old ethnic hatred made the war inevitable, and instead attribute it to the unchecked greed of politicians afraid of losing privileges they had long enjoyed. The women share their reactions to the Dayton Accords, the end of hostilities, and international relief efforts. While they are candid about the difficulties they face, they are committed to rebuilding Bosnia based on ideals of truth, justice, and a common humanity encompassing those of all faiths and ethnicities. Their wisdom is instructive, their courage and fortitude inspirational.

Why I want to read these books: Sometimes when I visit a country it creates a whole new extension of the wish list. A fondly remembered road trip through Croatia in the summer of 2008 inspired me to learn more about the history of this beautiful but scarred country.

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