Then They Started Shooting: Growing Up in Wartime Bosnia

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9780674015616: Then They Started Shooting: Growing Up in Wartime Bosnia
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You are nine years old. Your best friend's father is arrested, half your classmates disappear from school, and someone burns down the house across the road. You think your neighbors were planning to kill your family. You are eight years old and imprisoned in your home by your father's old friends. You are ten years old and must climb a mountain at night to escape the soldiers trying to shoot you.

What happens to children who grow up with war? How do they live with the daily reality of danger, hunger, and loss--and how does it shape the adults they become?

In Then They Started Shooting, child psychiatrist Lynne Jones draws the reader into the compelling stories of Serbian and Muslim children who came of age during the Bosnian wars of the 1990s. These children endured hardship, loss, family disruption, and constant uncertainty, and yet in a blow to psychiatric orthodoxy, few showed lasting signs of trauma. Thoughts of their personal futures filled their minds, not memories of war.

And yet, Jones suggests in a chilling conclusion, the war affected them deeply. Officially citizens of the same country, the two communities live separate, wary lives. The Muslims hope for reconciliation but cannot believe in it while so many cannot go home and war criminals are still at large. The Serbs resent the outside world, NATO, and fear the return of their Muslim neighbors. Cynical about politics, all of them mistrust their elected leaders. War may end, but the persistence of corruption and injustice keep wounds from healing.

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About the Author:

Lynne Jones is the senior mental health advisor for International Medical Corps and a senior research associate at Cambridge University. In 2001 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work in the former Yugoslavia.

Review:

This is one of the most illuminating books to have emerged out of the embers of the Bosnian war. Few outsiders have acquired such an inside knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of ordinary Bosnians, on both sides of the wartime divide. Lynne Jones offers a fascinating picture of the fears, beliefs and false understandings that characterized this war--showing how even the most unreal fears can be induced, and perpetuated, by real political facts. She challenges not only the standard view of war and psychological trauma, but also the Western policy which still has not grasped how to make Bosnia whole again.
--Noel Malcolm, author of Bosnia: A Short History and Fellow, All Souls College Oxford

Lynne Jones is an internationally-known expert on the effects of war on children. Her description of the legacy of the savage war in Bosnia is a shattering but necessary read. What shocks is not so much the violence as the ways in which the damage endures after the end of hostilities. Jones shows that it is the persistence of injustice, the failure to ensure the return of refugees, and the endurance of stereotypes that prevents wounds from healing, not the trauma of violence itself. This book should be in the knapsack of every international administrator setting out for the Gulf, so that we do not fail the children of Iraq as we have those of the former Yugoslavia.
--Brendan Simms, author of Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia

Lynne Jones's profound study will enrich the literature about Bosnia, the former Yugoslavia and of war studies in general. Rarely do we get the opportunity to delve into the thoughts of the young caught up in such a tragedy--and meet them not just once in their lives but again years later. This is a moving, well written and above all, deeply disturbing book.
--Tim Judah, author of The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia and Kosovo: War and Revenge

Lynne Jones brings to the extreme situation she describes a truly unique combination of hands-on communally oriented psychiatric help; sensitive research on the impact of war and upheaval on children; and an astute sense of the interplay of political policies and psychological behavior. We learn a lot about resilience, a word that takes on flesh in her compassionate depiction of individual lives. We come to recognize the importance of "distancing"--what could be called selective psychic numbing--for sustaining a balance between past and present experience. The book not only deepens our understanding of what happened in the former Yugoslavia but contributes greatly to our more general grasp of the consequences of death, loss, and dislocation, and the stubborn human persistence in the face of them.
--Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, author of Superpower Syndrome: America's Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World

Part narrative, part analysis, part thoughtful reflection, this book belongs among the classic accounts of children and war. To help us understand what war feels like by those who are forced to endure it, Jones shows how family and community influence young people caught up in terrible events, and argues disturbingly that even after years of relative peace, the conflict in Bosnia is not yet over.
--Jennifer Leaning, M.D., S.M.H., Professor of International Health at Harvard School of Public Health

In this absorbing study, Jones finds that Bosnian children who distanced themselves from the war felt psychologically more comfortable than those who tried to make sense of things--a finding that Jones attributes in part to their lack of direct participation in the conflict...The book offers new insights into Bosnian Serb-Muslim relations through the eyes of children and addresses perennial issues of war, trauma and prejudice. (Publishers Weekly 2004-08-30)

Children are often victims of war and political violence throughout the world, yet the impact on them is complex, according to Cambridge child psychiatrist and senior research associate Jones. For this timely book, Jones draws on her original research in the Balkans during the Bosnian crisis of the 1990s, including symptom checklists for more than 300 youth and personal encounters with 40 children...A thought-provoking and readable work.
--Antoinette Brinkman (Library Journal 2005-02-01)

Out of the horror of human cruelty in the Bosnian war comes a bright note. Jones, a child psychiatrist, studied a cluster of adolescents from two Bosnian towns--one largely Muslim, the other Serb--to see how deep and psychologically damaging the trauma of war had been. In 1996 and 1997, she socialized with and interviewed at length about 40 children in Gorazde and Foca and then returned in 2002 to follow up. The book begins with excruciating accounts of what these children saw and suffered, then turns to the way, as adolescents, they understood these events, and concludes with an assessment of the lasting effects. The bright note is that the overwhelming majority of these young people, now in their teens, were 'well'--that is, without noticeable psychological pathologies. The sadder note is that most had formed attitudes toward society, politics, and, in particular, the other ethnic group that were fostered by the first war and will be fuel if there is another. (Foreign Affairs 2005-01-01)

Then They Started Shooting: Growing Up in Wartime Bosnia is an account that beautifully illustrates the way in which people (in this case children) actively engage with the experience of war--a particular kind of moral problem--and how the meanings they attach to it shape their perceptions of themselves and their communities, and ultimately the legacy of the war itself...A highly original work.
--Derek Summerfield (Times Literary Supplement 2006-02-03)

This book focuses on the traumatic psychological effects of war on children two years after the conflict in the Balkans. The findings are noteworthy. The author discovered that, in fact, children's ability to cope is greater than expected, and that the majority of these children emerged from the war free from ill effects...For those in the CF who have served in the Balkans, a work of this nature is groundbreaking, informative, and pivotal in our understanding of the effects of war on children. It broadens our traditional focus in the Balkans of mitigating the physical hardships through donations of clothes or money, or through building and repairing schools. It is an interesting read.
--Captain J.K. Vintar (Canadian Army Journal)

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9781934137666: Then They Started Shooting: Children of the Bosnian War and the Adults They Become

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ISBN 10:  1934137669 ISBN 13:  9781934137666
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