The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia / Edition 1

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Overview

The recent atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stunned people throughout the world. With Holocaust memories still painfully vivid, a question haunts us: how is this savagery possible? Michael A. Sells answers by demonstrating that the Bosnian conflict is not simply a civil war or a feud of age-old adversaries. It is, he says, a systematic campaign of genocide and a Christian holy war spurred by religious mythologies.

This passionate yet reasoned book examines how religious stereotyping—in popular and official discourse—has fueled Serbian and Croatian ethnic hatreds. Sells, who is himself Serbian American, traces the cultural logic of genocide to the manipulation by Serb nationalists of the symbolism of Christ's death, in which Muslims are "Christ-killers" and Judases who must be mercilessly destroyed. He shows how "Christoslavic" religious nationalism became a central part of Croat and Serbian politics, pointing out that intellectuals and clergy were key instruments in assimilating extreme religious and political ideas.

Sells also elucidates the ways that Western policy makers have rewarded the perpetrators of the genocide and punished the victims. He concludes with a discussion of how the multireligious nature of Bosnian society has been a bridge between Christendom and Islam, symbolized by the now-destroyed bridge at Mostar. Drawing on historical documents, unpublished United Nations reports, articles from Serbian and Bosnian media, personal contacts in the region, and
Internet postings, Sells reveals the central role played by religious mythology in the Bosnian tragedy.
In addition, he makes clear how much is at stake for the entire world in the struggle to preserve Bosnia's existence as a multireligious society.

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Editorial Reviews

Chris William Erdman
...[H]ad I not read [The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia], conversations like this would have kept me in the dark, morally and spiritually inattentive to the power of propaganda and self-delusion.
Books & Culture: A Christian Review
Library Journal
A Serbian American professor of religion, Sells (Mystical Languages of Unsaying) explores all angles surrounding the recent systematic destruction of the Bosnian Muslims. He lays down a solid background of the origins of the war and explains the Serbian attitude that religion equals nationality, which shows why the Serbs believe the Muslims are traitorous to their country. Sells also describes Croatia's role in the conflict. Along with some fascinating reports and details on the genocide, he spends the final two chapters blasting the U.N., NATO, and the West for not becoming more involved in stopping the crimes against the Bosnians.-- Jill Jaracz, Professionals Library Service, Chicago
Library Journal
A Serbian American professor of religion, Sells (Mystical Languages of Unsaying) explores all angles surrounding the recent systematic destruction of the Bosnian Muslims. He lays down a solid background of the origins of the war and explains the Serbian attitude that religion equals nationality, which shows why the Serbs believe the Muslims are traitorous to their country. Sells also describes Croatia's role in the conflict. Along with some fascinating reports and details on the genocide, he spends the final two chapters blasting the U.N., NATO, and the West for not becoming more involved in stopping the crimes against the Bosnians.-- Jill Jaracz, Professionals Library Service, Chicago
Chris William Erdman
...[H]ad I not read [The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia], conversations like this would have kept me in the dark, morally and spiritually inattentive to the power of propaganda and self-delusion. -- Books & Culture: A Christian Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520216624
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/10/1998
  • Series: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael A. Sells is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Religion at Haverford College. He is the author of several books on religion, including Mystical Languages of Unsaying (1994).

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