Cover image for Madness visible : a memoir of war
Madness visible : a memoir of war
Di Giovanni, Janine, 1961-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 285 pages : map ; 25 cm
Format :


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DR2087.7 .D5 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DR2087.7 .D5 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"As a reporter for The Times of London, Janine di Giovanni found herself a close witness to the cycles of violence and vengeance in cities and villages, in refugee camps, in slapped-together hospitals, and in the homes of citizens under siege. She begins her story in May 1999 in Kosovo. The world believes the Balkan wars are over, but violence persists. She follows the arc of the war from its earliest days through the staggering experience of the people who endured it: soldiers numbed by - and inured to - the atrocities they commit, women driven to despair by their life in paramilitary rape camps, civilians (di Giovanni among them) caught in bombing raids of uncertain origin, babies murdered in hate-induced rage." "She searches for the motives of the leaders who created this hell: Slobodan Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic, and such crucial though less well-known figures as Nikola Koljevic, who directed the siege - and accomplished the destruction - of Sarajevo, the city he claimed to love." "Di Giovanni's story raises profoundly challenging questions: What can cause neighbors who have lived peacefully side by side for centuries to turn against one another with mindless brutality? What becomes of survivors when the fabric of an age-old community is destroyed? How should other governments react to mass murder in a neighboring country?"--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Anglo-American journalist di Giovanni assembles and extends her war reportage from the Balkans into an impressive overview of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. She reports the dreary and appalling events since the death of Tito and, especially, since 1992 in better prose than a good deal of the competition commands, though not even her accounts of individual survival and suffering break much new ground. She points the finger of blame squarely at the Serbs, however, for taking actions without which there would have been no crisis and whose dream of a greater Serbia is definitely as bloodthirsty as that of a Judenfrei Europe. She is also blunt about foreign intervention having been too little and too late, leaving NATO and the UN with blood on their hands and the real prospect of Balkan ethnic brawls erupting again for the World War I centennial. In all, a worthwhile discussion of whether the influence of the violence-never-settles-anything mentality now causes more violence than it prevents. --Roland Green Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"It is only possible to love one war," writes di Giovanni in this devastating memoir of the Balkans, quoting another intrepid war journalist, Martha Gellhorn. For Gellhorn, it was the Spanish Civil War; for di Giovanni, it's the series of conflicts that, since 1991, have consumed the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Expanded from a Vanity Fair article, this book presents a harrowing firsthand account of a region's spiral into madness. Di Giovanni, a senior foreign correspondent for The Times (London), was there almost from the beginning: she shuddered through the first icy winter of the Sarajevo siege (the longest in modern history); she sipped tea with Arkan, the dreaded leader of the ethnic-cleansing paramilitary Tigers; she stood shoulder to shoulder with Serb revolutionaries on "Day One" of the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic. The book deals primarily with di Giovanni's experiences covering the most recent war-1999's conflict in Kosovo-but it moves through time from the initial dissolution of Yugoslavia to the most recent, guardedly optimistic attempts at reconstruction. Di Giovanni provides ample historical context to the fighting (readers seeking to understand the separatist impulse of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church or Milosevic's "mother complex" have plenty of evidence to play with), but eventually, the names and dates of massacres and treaties pale next to the spectacle of pure horror: a dog trotting by with a human hand in its mouth; a crazed woman lying naked in full view of snipers, begging to be shot. Di Giovanni has written a tragic book that vividly memorializes the millions who suffered in the name of religion, nationality and ego. Map not seen by PW. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Nov. 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

London Times correspondent di Giovanni (The Quick and the Dead: Under Siege in Sarajevo) has authored a standout among the many accounts of war in former Yugoslavia. Her gripping narrative of the 1999 war in Kosovo, NATO's campaign against Serbia, and the ouster of Milosevic offers an unbiased view of the enormous suffering of Yugoslav Albanians and Serbs following the genocidal rage of the Belgrade regime against the Kosovo Liberation Army's (KLA) drive for an independent Kosovo. Her work moves swiftly from behind KLA lines to the depredations of Serb militias in Kosovo, NATO's bombing of Belgrade, Milosevic's ouster, and the war's impact on Serb-inhabited parts of Bosnia. The book's strength, however, lies less in its flow than in its consistent depiction of evil, sacrifice, and pathos among individuals involved in the war as well as interviews with emigre KLA fighters, the infamous Serb criminal Arkan, and the "Iron Lady" of Bosnian Serbs, Biljana Plavsic. If the book has a weakness, it is the relative neglect of the diplomatic imbroglio behind the fighting. This exciting work is highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/03.]-Zachary T. Irwin, Sch. of Humanities & Social Science, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.