Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo

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Random House Publishing Group, Oct 20, 2010 - 576 pages
In this brilliant book, Roger Cohen of The New York Times weaves together the history of Yugoslavia and the story of the Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995, as experienced by four families.
 
“I have tried to treat the story of Yugoslavia, which lived for seventy-three years, as a human one,” Cohen writes in this masterly book, which, like Thomas L. Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem and David Remnick’s Lenin’s Tomb, makes us eyewitnesses at the center of historic events. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the Bosnian conflict shattered the West’s confidence, reviving Europe’s darkest ghosts and exposing an America reluctant to confront or acknowledge an act of genocide on European soil. Through Cohen’s compelling reconstruction of the twentieth-century history that led up to the war, and his account of the war’s effect on everyday lives, we at last find the key to understanding Europe’s most explosive region and its peoples.
 
“This was a war of intimate betrayals,” Cohen goes on to say, and in Hearts Grown Brutal, the betrayals begin in the family of a man named Sead. Through his search for his lost father, we relive the history of Yugoslavia, founded at the end of World War I with the encouragement of President Woodrow Wilson. Sead’s desperate quest is punctuated by the lies, half truths, and pain that mark other sagas of Yugoslavia. Through three more families—one Muslim-Serb, one Muslim, and one Serb-Croat—we experience the war in Bosnia as it breaks up marriages and sets relative against relative. The reality of the Balkans is illuminated, even as the hypocrisy of the international response to the war is exposed.
 
Hearts Grown Brutal is a remarkable book, a testament to the loss of a multi-ethnic European state and a warning that the violence could return. It is a magnificent achievement that blends history and journalism into a profoundly moving human story.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Tomgraham - LibraryThing

Roger Cohen's "Hearts Grown Brutal - Sagas of Sarajevo" belongs, for me, securely in that category of historical works, which includes Edmund Haller-Carr's "The Twenty Years' Crisis", which I wish ... Read full review

HEARTS GROWN BRUTAL: Sagas of Sarajevo

User Review  - Kirkus

With the Bosnian war several years behind us, there has been a spate of books by journalists and diplomats. Hearts Grown Brutal stands out among them. For the general reader seeking insightful ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Roger Cohen is a columnist for the New York Times, where he has worked since 1990: as a correspondent in Paris and Berlin and as bureau chief in the Balkans, covering the Bosnian war (for which he received an Overseas Press Club prize). He was named a columnist in 2009. He became foreign editor on 9/11, overseeing Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage in the aftermath of the attack. His books include Soldiers and Slaves, Hearts Grown Brutal, and The Girl from Human Street. He lives in New York City.

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