MADNESS VISIBLE: A Memoir of War

Janine Di Giovanni, Author . Knopf $24 (286p) ISBN 978-0-375-41073-4

"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 tragicbook 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)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 285 pages - 978-0-7475-6868-1
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-375-72455-8
Open Ebook - 201 pages - 978-0-307-42674-1
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