Like Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem and David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb, Roger Cohen's Hearts Grown Brutal places us in the center of one of the twentieth century's major dramatic events, telling through the stories of four families the seventy-three-year saga of the state of Yugoslavia and its ultimate disintegration in the Bosnian War.Through a man named Sead and his search for a lost father, we relive the story of the Yugoslav state, founded at the end of World War I under the strong impulse of President Wilson. Through three other families -- one Muslim-Serb, one Muslim, and one Serb-Croat -- we follow Yugoslavia's collapse in 1991-95, the first major conflict of the post-Cold War era and a challenge to America's leadership and conscience. These moving sagas of Sarajevo reflect major themes of the twentieth century: the end of Empire, the ravages of fascist terror, the rise and fall of Communism, the nationalist fervor of post-Communist societies -- and yet Cohen's eyewitness account lets us experience history-making events vividly, through the small, individual passions, terrors, and betrayals of ordinary people.
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August 25, 1998
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