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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book
If you are unfamiliar with the war in Bosnia, and even if you are, I highly recommend this book. It is wonderfully written and illustrated and does a great job of combining a personal and general overview of the war. Sacco's writing is fantastic.
Published 15 months ago by Amir Fleischmann

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0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Safe Area Gorazde
This is a comic book, entirely. There is no text (other than that in the text bubbles), no bibliography, no substantiation of the material presented, no analysis. The historical accuracy of the events presented has nothing to provide verification. If you're looking for a book to provide information regarding the war in Bosnia, this isn't it. If you use comic books as...
Published on Feb. 9 2003


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4.0 out of 5 stars Devastating and human, Jan. 3 2014
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This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
A heavy and dense read regarding the Bosnian war of the 1990s. A little confusing at times since the story lines jump among different interviewees and Sacco relating his outsider view of Gorazde at the end of the war but worth reading. Also beautifully and realistically drawn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book, March 31 2013
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This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
If you are unfamiliar with the war in Bosnia, and even if you are, I highly recommend this book. It is wonderfully written and illustrated and does a great job of combining a personal and general overview of the war. Sacco's writing is fantastic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal side of the war in Bosnia, Sept. 16 2003
By 
Duncan Stroup "DCallan92" (Arlington, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
This is a very brave book that takes an unflinching look at the personal affects of the war in Eastern Bosnia in the 1990's. Sacco is not attempting to tell about the battles, victories defeats of this war but rather the affects the war had on the civilians trying to live through it. This novel is important and should not be dismissed or overlooked due to the choice by the author of making this a graphic novel.
If you are looking for a detailed accounting of the war this is not the book for you. Instead this is the book for any reader that wants to learn the personal affects of war upon the civilians trying to live through it. Sacco uses personal interviews with people who lived in Bosnia to give the reader an intimate feeling of how life is like for the people who had to live through the war, rather than being able to see "highlights" on CNN every few days.
The graphic novel form works well for Sacco. Sacco's art work is graphic and raw yet has a beauty to it that the reader should enjoy, even while reeling from some of the war images. The intimacy of the medium, illustrating events versus describing them, hits the reader with a great deal of impact and shows the severity of the environment and events in the novel.
This book is a great example of the possibilities of the graphic novel medium. Hopefully there will be more works from Sacco soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The highest form of art, Aug. 12 2003
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
War reporter and master artist, Joe Sacco, paints for us some of the devastated lives in war-torn Bosnia. We are here shown the self-perceived "retaliatory" punishments meted out to the Bosnians by the Serbs. As Sacco bears witness to these events, one is reminded of Tolstoy's notion that "every punishment is based not on logic or on the feeling of justice, but on the desire to wish evil on those who have done evil to you or another person."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant work of comics journalism, Oct. 12 2002
By 
Dave Thomer (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
While Sacco does provide a few pieces of historical and political detail to establish the context of his stories, this book is not an overall account of the war in Bosnia. As he did in PALESTINE, he combines the oral histories of his interviewees with his own observations on conditions in the enclave as well as his feelings about being in a danger zone. He keeps his primary focus on roughly half a dozen people, which helps to structure the collection of vignettes into something of a narrative, while also including interviews with a number of other people. Sacco stands back and lets the interviewees tell their stories, keeping his editorializing and personal reflections to interludes. You can feel his outrage over the conditions and the circumstances, but he doesn't allow that outrage to boil over and distract from the story. Despite the comments of Christopher Hitchens in his introduction, I think this approach serves Sacco well. It ensures that the reader will not be able to distract himself from the brutality and suffering by getting caught up in critiquing the author's tone.
And there is plenty of brutality and devastation here. Sacco's artwork is detailed and expressive, not gruesome for shock value's sake but unflinching in its depictions of wartime injuries and combat medicine under the worst possible conditions. You can't help but wonder not only how human beings could be so cruel to each other, but how other human beings could stand back and let it happen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Shocking, Sept. 25 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
Sacco shows the human side of the Yugoslavian war through a brilliant and effective combination of prose and comic book illustration. Not only does he provide a history and time line of the conflict, but also what it meant to the people who lived through it - and those who didn't. Sacco portrays aspects of the war that the press seemed to miss. Shocking, but a must-read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Graphical journalism on the war in Bosnia, July 30 2002
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde (Hardcover)
Joe Sacco has produced a gripping account of the war in Bosnia through the eyes of the people who lived it. He tells the story of Gorazde and by extraploation of the war in general by drawing up and commenting on personal encounters he has had during his stay in Bosnia. His account remains very much a journalist's account in remaining objective, regardless of a natural feeling of indignation for the atrocious crimes the people he interviews have suffered. He also displays appropriate criticism towards his own priviliged position as a UN protected journalist. The sometimes black humor in the book further helps to sharpen the focus on the situation.
The drawing style, in pure Black-and-white, is detailed and dynamic. There is a clear Robert Crumb influence in how the characters are drawn, especially in how Sacco draws himself. As far as format and story-telling go, I think Art Spiegelman's Maus has been an undeniable influence. The visual story-telling through the changing layout of each page is very functional. It helps the book to deliver its viewpoint in a very compact and efficient way.
All this of course is post-reading-analysis. I read the book cover to cover in one go. If I was teaching history to 16, 17-year olds, this would be a mandatory read on my reading list. I'm sure no one would complain.
I bought this one together with 'Palestine', which is of the same high quality, and immediately put in an Amazon-alert to notify me when anything new from Joe Sacco comes out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to "never again"?, Feb. 14 2002
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
While graphic novels have been around for quite a while, graphic journalism or history has not. Sacco is a pioneer of this extremely humanistic new genre, and here he bears witness to the horrors of the war in Bosnia. Sacco visited the so-called "safe area" four times in late 1995 and early 1996, and his portrait of a devastated city and its survivors is more affecting than any newspaper account could hope to be. His black ink panels capture in vivid detail not only the scars left on the landscape, but on the people themselves. Sacco alternates between detailing his own visits to Gorazde, a straightforward history of the war, and letting his friends and interviewees recount their own terrible experiences.
His own visits are fairly basic, everyone is frightened and devastated by the war and he experiences the guilt of one able to come and go as he pleases. The history of the war is very clearly told, with maps and pertinent statements from UN leaders, Clinton, Milosavich, et al. Sacco clearly highlights how ineffective and downright cowardly the UN approach was, singling out British Lt. General Rose and French Lt. General Janvier for lying and dissembling in order to avoid conflict, and the Clinton administration for being inept and vacillating toward the Serbs. The history is a stark reminder that in the absence of a superpower with a vested interest, one cannot expect loose multinational efforts to deter genocide. Throughout the war, due to a total lack of leadership and moral will from above, UN forces were pushed around, held hostage, and at times fled into the night rather than protect the civilians they were supposed to. Which brings one to the most compelling and disturbing parts of the book. Sacco supplies images to the testimonials of survivors and witnesses to execution, rape, nonstop civilian shelling, snipers, and even poison gas. Most of the voices from Gorazde are those of Muslim inhabitants or refugees "cleansed" from other areas, and while the stories are chilling enough, what also disturbs is the confusion and pain these people feel because in many cases, it was their former Serb neighbors who participated in it.
Sacco's artistic style may not be to everyone's taste, and certainly this is only a slice of the larger war, but he bears witness and hopefully makes the reader more conscious of the failings of leadership in preventing what was supposed to be "never again." American loves to pat itself on the back for kicking [...butt] in the "good war" against the Nazis, but somehow we've managed to avoid any responsibility for allowing genocide to continue, even when it's been clearly within our ability to do so.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No easy answers, but a compelling narrative, Jan. 24 2002
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde s/c (Paperback)
First off: this book is difficult to read. To be honest, I picked up this book as a fan of graphic novels, not because I had a burning desire to learn about the Balkans. But this book never reads like a history lesson, and it draws you back in even after you think you might be finished with it, because Sacco smartly kept the scale small--the story of one medium-sized Bosnian town.
"Safe area"--a U.N. concept of a city that would be protected from war--is a sadly ironic title. The topic is huge: centuries-old ethnic conflict, generals, the U.N., Bill Clinton, personal stories and horrendous, Holocaust-like devastation. Where do you start?
If you're Joe Sacco, you venture into Gorazde in a U.N. reporter's convoy, but when the rest of the media leaves, you sleep on a local's couch. You hear their dreams, sometimes silly, like of owning a new pair of American-made jeans. You intersperse the banality of daily life with sweeping days of horror and historical fact. You present -all- sides of the story, including the violence against Serbs (Orthodox Christians), but primarily, the unreal savagery of that group against Muslims and Bosnians (Roman Catholics). You become friends with the people you come to know year in and year out. You are awkward and uncomfortable about your perfect American-orthodonture teeth. You try to wrap your mind around how someone could shell a child, or rape a pregnant woman, or take a sniper post in the town he grew up in, against neighbors he knows. You leave the bigger questions--like why one religious group turns against others so quickly and with such hatred--unanswered. In your straightforward story, you counterbalance reams of U.S.-based, simplistic, propagandist reporting about violence-prone Muslims and peace-loving Christians.
While reading this book, things would cross my mind: what would it be like to be in Gorazde and know that the U.N. "peacekeepers" left in the middle of the night? The ominous intent of that idea stays with me still. The images are incredibly disturbing, but not exploitive or disrespectful. He simply tells it like it was, and bears witness.
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5.0 out of 5 stars even better than Palestine, June 17 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Safe Area Gorazde (Hardcover)
Sacco is great at comic-book journalism; he in fact has a degree in journalism and can really draw. It's a shame that this terrific book is so little known while its precursor Maus--which is similar only in basic format--was out winning awards and hitting the bestseller lists. Maus is subjective, culturally and racially biased, far too personal and badly written and drawn where Palestine and especially this book on Bosnia are objective, intelligent and well-drawn, but Maus came first (and also had the benefit of appealing to the prejudices of many book reviewers) and so still gets all the attention. Perhaps some readers were stung by the overhype that surrounded Maus and judge the infinitely better works of Sacco by it; if so that's a shame. Sacco succeeds where Maus failed, that is, everywhere.
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Safe Area Gorazde s/c
Safe Area Gorazde s/c by Joe Sacco (Paperback - Jan. 14 2002)
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