My War Gone By, I Miss It So
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These harrowing accounts from the trenches show humanity at its worst and best, through daily tragedies in city streets and mountain villages during Yugoslavia’s brutal dissolution. Shocking, violent, yet lyrical and ultimately redemptive, this book is a breathtaking feat of reportage, and an uncompromising look at the terrifyingly seductive power of war.
themselves and poured heavy fire into us. So we stumbled forward in frenzied desperation, as the bullets began to crack and zing through the air around us, slinging our excess gear into the grass as we ran. Even a flak jacket was sent spinning to the ground; 25lbs of body armour would be of little value against the anti-aircraft fire and only hinder the run. I knew the rules of this battlefield. This was not a war of prisoners. Everybody knew what had happened to the Croats the Serbs captured in
nearest wall, minds the usual whirling pool of surprise and confusion. BiH troops from the 17th Krajina Brigade, a famed refugee unit, had begun an attack seconds earlier, fighting the HVO through the houses around us, and we had driven into the middle of it. Greeted with the inevitable wave of a Kalashnikov in the face, we adopted a nonchalance we didn’t feel and offered cigarettes. The gun barrels pointed our way were soon dropped. In the chaotic scramble of shooting, running soldiers,
perhaps his account of events was true. Why should he allow us into the village if there had been a massacre? Yet when I saw Boži’s reaction I knew I was wrong. He looked stunned and repeated the order back to Raji, who nodded. Boži’s head dropped in disbelief, his shoulders slumped and he stared at the ground, then walked away slowly. And so the mind-game concluded. We thought we had won. It took me a long time to realize that Raji was the victor. Our two HVO escorts were far from happy with
it by repeating ‘maybe we live, maybe we die – only God knows’ as we finished our discussion. My shaken nerves were strengthened the day before our departure by the arrival in Goyty of two British TV journalists. They were both friends of mine and I greeted them as though they were the long-awaited relief for a beleaguered garrison, their fresh faces, smiles and rationality giving me the sustenance I so needed. One of them kept talking about his wife and kids in Wimbledon. Usually I would have
enough. If he was armed I was not carrying sufficient cash on me to cry over its loss anyway. Answer time (it’s worth the risk): ‘Yeah sure.’ Then straight into buying guise: look confident and relaxed, but aware and direct; deliberate but unhurried; the bricks in the wall to shroud the vulnerability of your solitude. Potentially it was a situation of no drama, or major drama. And there was a misunderstanding, but it was in my logic, not his. We got on the bike and rode a short distance to a