Love They Neighbor a Story of War
Peter Maass’ novel Love Thy Neighbor captures the nightmarish accounts of the victims and perpetrators of the Bosnian genocide from 1992-1995. Maass structures the novel using a series of vignettes. As a journalist for the Washington Post, Maass had access to death camps, safe areas, and even the homes of key war criminals and victims of the war. Maass humanizes the experience of the time period in an approachable manner through his gripping storytelling and his portrayal of major players of the genocide in his opinionated journalistic manner. At the same time, he does not desensitize his readers to the atrocity of the genocide. Maass portrays the ways that the Bosnian Muslims were tortured, raped, and killed in various settings throughout the war. Maass’ voice shines through in the novel, to the point where the reader feels a form of kinship with the journalist. His experience of the war becomes our experience as well. When questioned about the main topics of the book, Maass answered, “[i]t is about many things, about war, about Bosnia, about politics and hatred and demagogues and heroes and cowards and me and….it is about many things” (Maass 273). Maass makes clear that the novel is not simply a historical text, but rather a personalized account of what makes a genocide horrific and how we, as a human race, can learn to rise above.
Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia
Not My Turn to Die is the autobiographical account of one boy’s childhood living as a Serb in a Muslim-controlled city during the Bosnian genocide. In a world saturated with information about the horrific persecution of Muslims, it is an invaluable account depicting the backlash of violence towards Serbs in emotionally charged, Muslim-controlled areas. Savo describes how his family went from living peacefully amongst a community of a diverse population, to literally being imprisoned, starved, and ruled by terror in his own neighborhood by neighbors he’d lived beside his whole life. It is a compelling story depicting the power of propaganda, war, and fear to change a community—but with a focus on how a little bit of selfless kindness by a friend or stranger can mean the difference between life or death—that no individual can survive on their own without need the support of another. As someone persecuted by a people acting out of anger and fear of their own persecution, Heleta does a beautiful job of demonstrating Ghandi’s message: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind” by showing what happens when a person chooses love and forgiveness over anger and violence.