Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the Westby David Rieff
In a shocking and deeply disturbing tour de force, David Rieff, reporting from the Bosnia war zone and from Western capitals and United Nations headquarters, indicts the West and the United Nations for standing by and doing nothing to stop the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims. Slaughterhouse is the definitive explanation of a war that will be remembered as the greatest failure of Western diplomacy since the 1930s.
Bosnia was more than a human tragedy. It was the emblem of the international community's failure and confusion in the post-Cold War era. In Bosnia, genocide and ethnic fascism reappeared in Europe for the first time in fifty years. But there was no will to confront them, either on the part of the United States, Western Europe, or the United Nations, for which the Bosnian experience was as catastrophic and demoralizing as Vietnam was for the United States. It is the failure and its implications that Rieff anatomizes in this unforgiving account of a war that might have been prevented and could have been stopped.
Ronald Steel An acute and impassioned observer, David Rieff relates the tragedy of Bosnia with fire and anger.
Anthony Lewis The New Republic An epitaph for Bosnia, or for us. I do not think anyone should be able to read this book without pain and anger.
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Meet the Author
David Rieff is the author of eight previous books, including Swimming in a Sea of Death, At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis; and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. He lives in New York City.
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I bought this book hoping to learn more about the Bosnian war. While I did learn things I didn't know before, I often found the way the author was presenting the information to be distracting. There was no real human side to the book, which was disappointing, just the author's opinions and some facts thrown at you. As I read the first chapter, I felt like I was being yelled at by a writer who was obviously furious that America didn't really do much of anything to help Bosnia. The writer has a habit of using "had had" when discussing things...this is not something that I would usually mention, but he did it so much that it really started to annoy me. However, there were moments throughout the book when the author had my full attention and I found myself asking "How could people just stand by and let this happen?!" I have friends who came to the US after the war and couldn't help but continually think about what they lived through at such a young age and how terrified they and their parents must have been. Overall, while I took issue with the writing style of this book, it is very informative and helpful in my quest to learn more about all sides of the Bosnian war.
As someone who knows very little about the situation in Bosnia, I found ¿Slaughterhouse¿ to be quite informative. As I began reading the book, I could not help but feel ashamed of the fact that I was someone who knows so little about Bosnia. But as I continued reading Rieff¿s powerful indictment of the reaction of the United Nations and the West, I began to have a better understanding of why my awareness of the genocide in Bosnia was so lacking. I surely cannot attest to how accurate his scathing criticisms of the United Nations and the West are. In fact, his criticism is so unrelenting and one-sided, that I am certainly left wondering whether his emotions may have influenced his overall treatment of the West, which might be understandable given the circumstances and what he witnessed. Yet, even if his criticism of the West is overstated, I still felt that it shed some light on why a relatively educated person like myself was so ignorant of a genocide that was going on. But despite his emotional rants, Rieff¿s book gave a relatively uninformed reader like myself insight onto what went on in Bosnia. In particular, I was particularly affected by the fact that so many of the heinous acts of ¿ethnic cleansing¿ were carried out against former neighbors and friends. Moreover, his account of the history of the conflict, and Europe¿s historical apathy (or antipathy) towards the Bosnian Muslims also was something from which I felt I learned a great deal. While the book may have shortcomings for any expert on the conflict and genocide in Bosnia, the book presents a good account of what went on and was allowed to persist.