In Sudetics book, Blood and Vengeance, the author portrays a multicultural country whose people were living together more or less peacefully until their dormant ethnic hostilities were awakened and manipulated in a war of aggression. It was a war that was brought on by a few people with a thirst for power and a score to settle which is indicative of the title. It is the tradition of Serbs to demand blood vengeance for past crimes against them and, while there may be readers who consider magnanimity as the noble thing, the Serbs and their culture, in sharp contrast, appear unsympathetic at times.
In brief, Sudetic successfully illustrates the macro policy issues with an in-depth view of the Celik family’s experience in Srebrenica. This book is a devastating indictment of the international community for allowing atrocities like this to occur again, after similar incidents which occurred in WWII, Rwanda, Cambodia and Guatemala. It is a firm and definitive account of a tragic chapter in Bosnia’s history. The first section of the book helps explain the root causes of the war in Bosnia and contains a brief yet momentous introduction of the history of Bosnia. Sudetic then introduces the reader to the Celiks (A Bosnian Family).
The reader becomes completely enveloped by the tragedy and ordeals that the family endures and it becomes hard not to empathize with them, sharing their deepest emotions and concerns. Central to the theme of this book is Sudetic’s comprehensive account of the atrocities that took place in Srebrenica after the town was overrun by the Bosnian Serb army. Muslim men were taken to different locations to be shot. Those who survived have been able to testify about these heinous atrocities. The Celik family fled from their village of Kusupovici to Srebrenica when the war began.
Approximately forty thousand people from neighboring towns sought shelter in Srebrenica which was later taken under siege and was constantly shelled by the Bosnian Serb army. Very few U. N. convoys were allowed to enter Srebrenica in order to deliver food and medical supplies to its refugees. Srebrenica’s people were isolated from the rest of the world for three long years with severe food rations, the lack of electricity, clean water and medical supplies. Hundreds of refugees died from starvation and disease. Blood and Vengeance is virtually a gripping account of unlucky people who were trapped in an ironic “safe” zone of Srebrenica.
The city fell on July 12, 1995 after three years of Serb occupation. The author describes the events as vividly as it was illustrated on television. Bosnian Serb forces summarily executed approximately eight thousand Muslims, an event not witnessed since WWII. The details of the massacre were gruesome including the days leading up to it. It was even more disturbing that the U. N. was completely indifferent to the plight of these people with numerous documents corroborating this. The U. N. maintained that, though they were given the authority for air strikes, they did not because they felt it would exacerbate the conflict.
Those Muslims who tried to escape were frequently ambushed by the Bosnian Serb army. The impression a reader gets from this book is probably the most accurate one concerning the war in Bosnia. This war was not the mandate of the people but instead, the cruelty imposed by General Milosevic. It appears that, in this book, it’s the United Nations and Western diplomats that take the blame. In addition to blame put on the U. N. , Sudetic writes of the convenient fallacy that all sides in the Bosnian war were equally guilty of the evils perpetrated there.
That was never the case. He also dispenses with the international community’s implication that the corrosive three years was inevitable. In reality, it was deliberately manipulated by nationalist Serb leaders. Sudetic also exposes the moral cowardice & incompetence of the international community. Even though it can be argued that the Serbs were manipulated by the anti-Muslim propaganda monopolizing the media in the former Yugoslavia, it is fair to state that the Muslims had nothing comparable to cloud their judgment.
In summary, Blood and Vengeance, is a true account of a family in the Serbian conflict engaged in a political and social context of violence and aggression. There is a balance in the author’s criticism of Muslim and Serb atrocities, and his anger at the failures of politicians and peacekeepers is extremely pronounced. It is a riveting tale of the experiences of the Celik family and to the welfare of each family member as they try to escape the violence. Bibliography: 1. Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia, Chuck Sudetic, 1999