Cover image for When history is a nightmare : lives and memories of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina
When history is a nightmare : lives and memories of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Weine, Stevan M., 1961-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 259 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC552.P67 W45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Stevan M. Weine is a psychiatrist who has spent the past decade working with Bosnian survivors of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. As he listened to their testimonies, Weine concluded that these narratives were capable of bearing a complex truth about the horrific events in Yugoslavia that often were lost in more analytic works on the subject. When History is a Nightmare also explores how these traumatic events affected not just individuals, but an entire society and its culture.

Weine investigates the survivors' attempts to reconcile the contrasting, collective memories of having lived in a smoothly functioning, multiethnic society with the later memories of the ethnic atrocities. He discusses the little-known group concept of merhamet. Denoting compassion, forgiveness, and charity, merhamet was a critical cultural value for the Bosnian Muslims.

Weine also explores how ethnic cleansing was justified from the vantage point of psychiatrists who played prominent roles in instigating the horrors. He also provides personal portraits of leaders such as Jovan Raskovic and Radovan Karadzic. He concludes by describing the recovery efforts of survivors--how they work to confront the destructive nature of their memories while trying to bring about healing, both individually and collectively.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The title suggests that this is a journalistic account of the Bosnian war, but it is not. Weine, codirector of the Project on Genocide, Psychiatry, and Witnessing at the University of Illinois in Chicago, seeks to elucidate the complicated conflict by emphasizing the psychology of everyone involvedÄincluding those responsible for making ethnic cleansing part of our vocabulary. Weine sums up his argument precisely when he quotes from UlyssesÄ"History is a nightmare from which I'm trying to awake"Äsaying that the core problem lies in the inability of the Balkan peoples to deal with history in the right way. Weine's attempt is admirable and sincere, but as an outsider he fails to see how intricate the conflict really is; it is severely stereotypical to assert that the post-World War II years were essentially about suppressing bitterness and hatreds. In addition, he neglects the crucial question of why so many were unable and unwilling to distinguish between their nationality and religion. Nevertheless, chapters on the leaders of the recent genocide in Bosnia are particularly interesting, and those with little knowledge of the conflict will find this accessible introductory work helpful.ÄMirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.