The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War

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9780060976088: The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War

In a series of beautiful, impassioned essays, Croatian journalist and feminist Drakulic provides a very real and human side to the Balkans war and shows how the conflict has affected her closest friends, colleagues, and fellow countrymen--both Serbian and Croatian. Includes five new essays not in the hardcover edition.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Drakuli (How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed; Holograms of Fear--both 1992) writes, in these terse, focused pieces, about how she--and every other former Yugoslav--became a Croat (or Serb or Muslim)--and how dizzyingly fast it happened. Communism was barely two years dead when a population utterly unused to politics became its pawn--and Drakuli gives over a fine sense of how the resulting ethnic identification has stripped her of her individuality--``the most precious property I had accumulated during the forty years of my life.'' Forced to flee bombed-out Zagreb for Ljubljana in Slovenia, she discovered the meaning of exile--owning nothing, not even familiar sensations. And, however unwillingly, she became a Croat not just by birth but- -``overcome by nationhood''--by force of historical demand. Filling out the text are interviews with young gunmen (``What Ivan Said'') and an analytical letter to the author's daughter (``We didn't build a political underground of people with liberal, democratic values ready to take over the government; not because it was impossible, but on the contrary, because the repression was not hard enough to produce the need for it. If there is any excuse it is in the fact that we were deprived of the sense of the future. This was the worse thing communism did to people''). An admirable, deeply felt, mosaic-like portrait of one of the most appalling grotesqueries of modern history. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In 18 short, spontaneous, lyrical dispatches from the former Yugoslavia, Croatian journalist Drakulic ( How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed ) conveys the horror of war and its shattering impact on the lives of ordinary people. Written between April 1991 and May 1992, the selections include an interview with a youth who joins the Croatian Guards for "mop up" operations, a report from the battle front, the author's visit with her nervous, widowed mother and an account of her train ride on the Balkan Express from Vienna, where she consoles her own exiled daugther, back into the heart of the war. Drakulic proposes a number of reasons for the ongoing bloodbath: Yugoslavs under Tito failed to build a political underground, and the country never had a chance to become a civil society as a foundation for democratic institutions. "We traded our freedom for Italian shoes," she remarks, meaning that under communist rule people made "a kind of contract with the regime," forgoing resistance in exchange for travel privileges and shopping excursions abroad. First serial to the New York Times Magazine.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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