A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia

Peter Handke, Author, Scott Abbott, Translator Viking Books $17.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-670-87341-8
Handke argues that the Western news media have unfairly portrayed the Serbs as brutal aggressors in the Yugoslav war while presenting Croats as sympathetic victims. The eminent German novelist/ playwright/essayist charges that the Croats started the war by marching militia into Serbian villages, and he blames Germany for its haste in recognizing the newly formed state of Croatia, whose constitution designated 600,000 Serbs living in Croatia as a second-class ethnic group. Born to German-Slovenian parents near the border of the former Yugoslavia, Handke traveled through Bosnia and Serbia in late 1995 accompanied by two Serbian-born friends. Partly a poetic, sensitive travelogue, partly a nervously defensive polemic, this slender volume touched off a firestorm of controversy in Europe, where Handke was accused by critics of attempting to minimize Serbian war crimes. Because of its self-consciously literary style and its hairsplitting analysis of European journalism, films and TV news coverage, the book will probably have less impact here. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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