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Book Review – Safe Area Goražde by Joe Sacco

Synopsis:  Praised by The New York Times, Brill’s Content and Publisher’s Weekly, Safe Area Goražde is the long-awaited and highly sought after 240-page look at war in the former Yugoslavia. Sacco (the critically-acclaimed author of Palestine) spent five months in Bosnia in 1996, immersing himself in the human side of life during wartime, researching stories that are rarely found in conventional news coverage. The book focuses on the Muslim-held enclave of Gorazde, which was besieged by Bosnian Serbs during the war. Sacco lived for a month in Gorazde, entering before the Muslims trapped inside had access to the outside world, electricity or running water. Safe Area Gorazde is Sacco’s magnum opus and with it he is poised too become one of America’s most noted journalists. The book features an introduction by Christopher Hitchens, political columnist for The Nation and Vanity Fair.

Review:  As a comic book nerd I’ve long enjoyed Joe Sacco‘s amazing work.  Superb journalism presented in comic book format, he is an artist who reminds us of all of the promise in the format.
I bought Safe Area Goražde at my local comic book store because I am in a period of learning more about the Bosnian War and it was by Joe Sacco and I could afford it at the time.  I read it following my read of Logavina Street by Barbara Demick and it was a great companion piece.  Where Demick’s book is all about  Sarajevo, Sacco’s is about conditions in Safe Area Goražde, a small place that was under unrelenting siege from 1992 to 1995.  Sacco gives a great deal of background information about the conflict while at the same time humanizing it through format and the eyes of the people who lived through the siege (including his own).  Each in their own put themselves in the center of the stories they’re telling – an acknowledgment of the myth of objectivity.

I’ve read a lot of history and a lot of historical fiction and when the words “siege warfare” come up I tend to think about castles and knights and big walls and the people inside eating their horses.  Safe Area Goražde taught me a lot about modern siege warfare and opened my eyes further to a story I have neglected.  It is simple to understand why Mr. Sacco won the Eisner Award for this book.  Brilliant, heart-stopping, and terribly sad this is a work of genius – highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure:  I bought it for myself!

Publishing Information:  Fantagraphics – 2008

Format:  Softcover

Published inBooks

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