Sunday, February 13, 2011


There are a million books about the war in Bosnia. It was the most heavily covered war in history by many accounts, so it is not surprising that so many produced books about the war. I have read almost all of them (as hard as that is to believe) and they run the range from compelling and interesting to poorly informed, second hand information that can't even get the basic facts of what happened sorted out. Then there are those books that tell half truths and lie by omission. Some of these are quite disingenuous and down right dangerous. I do find some of them interesting though and explore some aspects of the war rarely discussed and when keeping them in context of the truth, do fill in some holes in stories from some others books. That said if read by uniformed or the under informed, could lead one to believe some seriously flawed ideas of the war.
My top 10 favorite books on the war in Bosnia are...

1) Death of Yugoslavia (Laura Sibler & Allan Little) - being the basis of the best documentary  on the wars in Yugoslavia (and widely recognized as one of the five best documentary films ever made). It covers the war from the death of Tito to the very end and offers an in depth explanation of the entire wars and political battles that were fought both before armed conflict and after.

2) My war gone by I miss it so (Anthony Lloyd) A moving personal account about the War in Bosnia thru the prism of ones personal trials and tribulations. Let's face it, everything is colored by ones own experience and perspective. I always appreciate when one can be honest about there personal struggles and how that affects a person even to the point of admitting that someone misses "their" war.

3) Miss Sarajevo (Bill Carter) another moving personal tale of personal struggles and how by as much accident as fate one ends up in besieged Sarajevo. Bill tells a great personal story of the Siege of Sarajevo and with the help of U2 help bring the worlds focus back to were it belonged, on the besieged Bosnians held up in there captive capital of Sarajevo.

4) Siege of Sarajevo (FAMA) a voluminous book that covers everyday life in Sarajevo. It also has interviews with many leading members of Sarajevo society. It is a truly remarkable piece of history if you can still come by a copy, last one I saw was selling for over $300.

5) Balkan Battlegrounds (C.I.A.) a great account of battles and strategic battles that took place in Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990's. It is heavily leaning towards just facts and figures and analyzing of wartime battles and capabilities of the warring factions. A real deep read for those who want to understand the evolution of the war.

6) How Bosnia armed (Marko Atilla Hoare) a fascinating look at how the Bosnian army took shape from prewar to the end of the war. It explains the philosophical aspects of the war time leadership and competing strategies and goals.

7) Endgame, The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica: Europe’s Worst Massacre Since World War II (by David Rohde) A must read to get an idea of what was happening in Srebrenica at the time and what the worlds response was to an obvious tragedy.

8) Crisis in Bihac (Brendan O'Shea) the only book to really delve into what was happing in Bihac and the war between Bosniak 5th Korpus aligned with the Sarajevo government and the Naroda Odbrana aligned with Fikret Abdic. A rare glimpse inside the most successful Bosnian army Corps and it's brilliant commander Atif Dudakovic
9)  Sarajevo Siege and Defense (Vahid Karavelic) A interesting look at the Siege of Sarajevo from a military perspective one of it's leaders.

10) The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia (Charles Shrader) A interesting book that explains some under reported aspects of the war in Bosnia. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you can fill in the gaps in information this book intentionally leaves out. It does explain a lot of the secondary causes of the war and conflict but generally, I would say in order to make his point he leaves out a massive amount of important facts. You could even say he is lying by omission to make his point.  Regardless it  brings up some valid points of the conflict that are rarely discussed.

There are other great books that I left off this list Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (David Reiff), Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War (Peter Maass), Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia (Chuck Sudetic), Testimony of a Bosnian (Naza Tanovic-Miller), The Battle for Sarajevo: Sentenced to Victory (Kerim Lucarevic) and so many others deserve mentioning here I am afraid I have left so many out. This is my list of must read books as it stands today, who knows next week it could be different.


  1. I would add 'seasons from hell' (Ed Vuliamy - covers central Bosnia) and tenth circle of hell (Reza Hukanovic)

  2. Both excellent books for sure Scott, Also Misha Glenny wrote a couple of pretty good books on the Balkans...I didn't include foto books I may do a top 10 foto book list some time in the future...

  3. I just read a new book I found on Amazon. It's called "Border Crossings" by Aubrey Verboven. Tells the tale of an aid worker in the Bihac Pocket during the war. An excellent read and very detailed treatment of a very complicated series of battles.

  4. I wish I had found this list earlier. Courage and endurance of Bosniaks during the war is a great source of inspiration to me.

    Greetings from Finnland

  5. I guess Bill Carter's "Fools rush in" is ment here. An interesting and enjoyable book as such, but left me slightly disappointed.

  6. I recently read "Into Hell's Fire" - I thought it was very entertaining, spy-genre fiction. Also found it on Amazon.