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Book Review – Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood by Barbara Demick

Synopsis:  Logavina Street was a microcosm of Sarajevo, a six-block-long history lesson. For four centuries, it existed as a quiet residential area in a charming city long known for its ethnic and religious tolerance. On this street of 240 families, Muslims and Christians, Serbs and Croats lived easily together, unified by their common identity as Sarajevans. Then the war tore it all apart.

As she did in her groundbreaking work about North Korea, Nothing to Envy, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick tells the story of the Bosnian War and the brutal and devastating three-and-a-half-year siege of Sarajevo through the lives of ordinary citizens, who struggle with hunger, poverty, sniper fire, and shellings.

Logavina Street paints this misunderstood war and its effects in vivid strokesat once epic and intimaterevealing the heroism, sorrow, resilience, and uncommon faith of its people.

First Line:  A plaque identifies a mustard-yellow house on Logavina Street as the residence and office of Esad Taljanović, stomatolog – dentist.

Random Quote:  If you watch a Sarjevo street scene for a few minutes, you will see brunettes, blonds, and redheads, blue eyes and brown eyes, tall and short people.  They are diverse in appearnce than the residents of many European capitals.  You cannot tell a Serb, Croat, or Muslim by appearance.

Review:  The Bosnian war is sort of a blur to me.  I was directing theater and managing bands for most of the 1990’s.  This meant living on 2-3 hours of sleep and very little in the way of news or television.  When you live in those worlds many things become a blip on the radar – you flag them in your head – “I should know more about that” – and then move on to whatever needs to be tackled next.  Recently this flag popped up in my head again when I was offered a copy of the updated edition for review.

Logivina Street is great journalism.  Combining a general overview of the history and roots of the multiple conflicts, Ms. Demick goes on to explore the war through the eyes of the residents of a single street.  Many books on war are so focused on the minutae of battles and political tactics that the reality of the person on the street who is neither soldier nor politician is lost.  This is moving story and cautionary tale and started me out on what will be a longer journey in trying to understand what happened there.  Heartbreaking and utterly readable – highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure:  Copy from publisher for review

Publishing Information:  Spiegel and Grau – April 17, 2012

Format:  Paperback

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