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This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peaceby Swanee Hunt
Synopses & Reviews
This Was Not Our War shares amazing first-person accounts of twenty-six Bosnian women who are reconstructing their society following years of devastating warfare. A university student working to resettle refugees, a paramedic who founded a veterans’ aid group, a fashion designer running two nonprofit organizations, a government minister and professor who survived Auschwitz — these women are advocates, politicians, farmers, journalists, students, doctors, businesswomen, engineers, wives, and mothers. They are from all parts of Bosnia and represent the full range of ethnic traditions and mixed heritages. Their ages spread across sixty years, and their wealth ranges from expensive jewels to a few chickens. For all their differences, they have this much in common: all survived the war with enough emotional strength to work toward rebuilding their country. Swanee Hunt met these women through her diplomatic and humanitarian work in the 1990s. Over the course of seven years, she conducted multiple interviews with each one. In presenting those interviews here, Hunt provides a narrative framework that connects the women’s stories, allowing them to speak to one another.
The women describe what it was like living in a vibrant multicultural community that suddenly imploded in an onslaught of violence. They relate the chaos; the atrocities, including the rapes of many neighbors and friends; the hurried decisions whether to stay or flee; the extraordinary efforts to care for children and elderly parents and to find food and clean drinking water. Reflecting on the causes of the war, they vehemently reject the idea that age-old ethnic hatreds made the war inevitable. The women share their reactions to the Dayton Accords, the end of hostilities, and international relief efforts. While they are candid about the difficulties they face, they are committed to rebuilding Bosnia based on ideals of truth, justice, and a common humanity encompassing those of all faiths and ethnicities. Their wisdom is instructive, their courage and fortitude inspirational.
"Drawing on seven years of interviews, diplomatic and humanitarian work in the region and personal visits to Bosnia throughout the 1990s, Hunt — a former U.S. ambassador to Austria and founder of Women Waging Peace — presents the testimony of 26 women who survived the region's horrific upheavals. Hunt juxtaposes private moments with public meetings and differences of opinion with common convictions. Women speak wrenchingly and courageously about the fight to save their homes and protect their children; the decision to stay or flee; the attempt to preserve their own bodies and souls; and the ongoing challenge to rebuild their lives and society. (The book includes 32 color photos and two maps.) Despite differences of opinion on most other issues, Hunt's ethnically and religiously diverse interviewees all agree that political greed rather than obstinate ethnic hatred fueled the conflict. The director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Hunt succeeds in capturing, organizing and analyzing the complexities inherent in conversations with 26 very different people during and after an abhorrent war. 'Life goes on, and life wins,' says Mediha Filipovic, the only female member of parliament in the first Bosnian national assembly and Bosnia's current ambassador to Sweden. Readers will be inspired by her courage, and that of the others here, in saying so. Agent, John Taylor Williams." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] fluid narrative that provides an intimate, less blustery perspective on the Bosnian conflict." Rob Mitchell, Boston Herald
"[Hunt's] narrative is heart-rending and filled with revealing pictures of the women's strength, courage and leadership." Verna Noel Jones, Rocky Mountain News
Combines Bosnian women's personal testimony about the recent war and its aftermath with Ambassador Hunt's analysis of the U.S. government's appproach to the conflict.
The former ambassador to Austria and founder of Women Waging Peace shares first-person accounts of Bosnian women who are rebuilding their country after devastating war.
About the Author
“Here is history watched in its unfolding, then put on record. Women tell an astute listener what they saw, read, and remember even as their careful witness—at once an eloquent and tragic story—is enabled by the knowing attention of a seasoned diplomat and psychologist. This effort advances the kind of history Tolstoy urged be written—a narration of on-the-scene individuals rendered by one herself very much willing to be respectfully among them.”—Robert Coles, James Agee Professor of Social Ethics and Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities, Harvard University
“I met Swanee Hunt as a diplomat in Vienna. I worked beside her as an activist in the Balkans. Now I know her as a writer, addressing a world sorely in need of her message of challenge and hope. Her words resonate with the authenticity of an observer and advocate who has devoted not only attention, time, and position, but also soul.”—Queen Noor of Jordan, humanitarian activist for world peace and justice and best-selling author of Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
“Swanee Hunt is a diplomat, human rights advocate, and teacher. With This Was Not Our War she shows she is also a gifted listener and writer. In these pages, Hunt captures the rationales and rationalizations for war as well as the despair and stirring dignity of twenty-six women who lived through the Bosnian horrors. Hunt lets the women speak for themselves, telling the story of Bosnia’s descent and recovery their way, and, in so doing, she shows just how vital their voices, insights, and talents will be in rebuilding Bosnia and its shattered lives.”—Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide
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History and Social Science » Europe » Eastern Europe » Former Yugoslavia