Synopses & Reviews
In this brilliant book, Roger Cohen of The New York Times takes us to the core of one of the twentieth century's most complex stories, weaving together the history of Yugoslavia and the story of the Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995, as experienced by four families.
"I have tried to treat the story of Yugoslavia, which lived for seventy-three years, as a human one," Cohen writes in this masterly book, which, like Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem and David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb, makes us eyewitnesses at the center of historic events. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the Bosnian conflict shattered the West's confidence, reviving Europe's darkest ghosts and exposing an America reluctant to confront or acknowledge an act of genocide on European soil. Through Cohen's compelling reconstruction of the twentieth-century history that led up to the war, and his account of the war's effect on everyday lives, we at last find the key to understanding Europe's most explosive region and its peoples.
"This was a war of intimate betrayals," Cohen goes on to say, and in Hearts Grown Brutal, the betrayals begin in the family of a man named Sead. Through his search for his lost father, we relive the history of Yugoslavia, founded at the end of World War I with the encouragement of President Woodrow Wilson. Sead's desperate quest is punctuated by the lies, half truths, and pain that mark other sagas of Yugoslavia. Through three more families--one Muslim-Serb, one Muslim, and one Serb-Croat--we experience the war in Bosnia as it breaks up marriages and sets relative against relative. The reality of the Balkans is illuminated, even as the hypocrisy of the international response to the war is exposed.
Hearts Grown Brutal is a remarkable book, a testament to the loss of a multi-ethnic European state and a warning that the violence could return. It is a magnificent achievement that blends history and journalism into a profoundly moving human story.
Like Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem and David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb, Roger Cohen's Hearts Grown Brutal places us in the center of one of the twentieth century's major dramatic events, telling through the stories of four families the seventy-three-year saga of the state of Yugoslavia and its ultimate disintegration in the Bosnian War.
Through a man named Sead and his search for a lost father, we relive the story of the Yugoslav state, founded at the end of World War I under the strong impulse of President Wilson. Through three other families -- one Muslim-Serb, one Muslim, and one Serb-Croat -- we follow Yugoslavia's collapse in 1991-95, the first major conflict of the post-Cold War era and a challenge to America's leadership and conscience. These moving sagas of Sarajevo reflect major themes of the twentieth century: the end of Empire, the ravages of fascist terror, the rise and fall of Communism, the nationalist fervor of post-Communist societies -- and yet Cohen's eyewitness account lets us experience history-making events vividly, through the small, individual passions, terrors, and betrayals of ordinary people.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -506) and index.
About the Author
Roger Cohen is the Berlin bureau chief of The New York Times. He was its Balkan bureau chief from 1994 to 1995 and reported from Bosnia throughout the war there. Twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, Cohen has won several awards, including two from the Overseas Press Club. He has also been a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Cohen is co-author of a biography of General Norman Schwarzkopf, In the Eye of the Storm.