Slavenka Drakulic attended the Serbian war crimes trial in the Hague. This important book is about how ordinary people commit terrible crimes in wartime. With extraordinary story-telling skill Drakulic draws us in to this difficult subject. We cannot turn away from her subject matter because her writing is so engaging, lively and compelling. From the monstrous Slobodan Milosevich and his evil Lady Macbeth of a wife to humble Serb soldiers who claim they were ‘just obeying orders’, Drakulic brilliantly enters the minds of the killers. There are also great stories of bravery and survival, both from those who helped Bosnians escape from the Serbs and from those who risked their lives to help them.
Ten years ago I read Drakulic’s earlier book of essays How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed. It sticks in my head still, from its vivid orange cover to its moving, extremely informative, highly readable account of the minutiae of everyday life in various Eastern European countries under communist regimes (particularly the lives of women). A very good read. My colleagues Doina (from Romania) and Cathy (from Poland) both borrowed it from me and also sang its praises.