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Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  613 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
For four centuries, Logavina Street was a quiet residential road in a cosmopolitan city, home to Muslims and Christians, Serbs and Croats. Then the war tore the street apart. In this extraordinary eyewitness account, Demick weaves together the stories of ten families from Logavina Street. For three and a half years, they were often without heat, water, food or electricity. ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Granta Books (first published June 1st 1996)
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Jun 04, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, balkans
The stories of Balkin conflict have always been painfully close to home. Though I was just 12 at the beginning of the Bosnian war, and safely half a world away in Australia, I remember vividly the protests in the streets, the side-eyes Croatian and Serbian immigrants gave each other and my father, foreign newspaper forever in disarray in his lap, images of Bosnians screaming, crying on the front page.

Much like the people of Sarajevo who lived harmoniously together for centuries, in spite of the
Jun 05, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
You look ahead of you. You look in front of you. You look behind you. Everyone you see looks like your race, like your ethnicity, like YOU.

But, there are issues. There are problems within some of you. After the fall of Yugoslavia, your government decides to secede and now you represent the antithesis of what others want; you are a target for violence. Political structures in ruins, people become barbaric in nature; others are killing your friends because of what ethnicity they claim to be and wh
May 22, 2013 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Many years ago, when I was very young and very intense about the world being capable of being saved, I went to a talk at the 92nd Street Y by some writer I admired. I can't remember who it was, now. What I do remember is that the writer used the talk to speak passionately and eloquently about the recent 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and linked that to then on-going Siege of Sarajevo. It was heartbreaking. I hadn't really been following the story before then - I was a student and ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Bridget rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
My across-the-street neighbor is from Sarajevo. One time we got to chatting while our kids played and she told me the story of how she emigrated to America as a teenager during the wartime siege. It involved the promise of a scholarship, a tunnel under the airport and a crazy bus ride into Croatia. At the time, even as I recognized that hers was an amazing journey, I only vaguely understood the context of it. I hadn't yet read Balkan Ghosts, so my frame of reference for 1990s Bosnia was somethin ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
"Besieged" is a book about life in war time Sarajevo wrote by Barbara Demick in 1996 after spending some time there at various intervals between 1992 and 1995 as the correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The reason why this stuff has recently been re-published is the success recently gained by "Nothing to Envy" the brilliant book by Mrs Demick about life under the North Korean communist regime.

There is, therefore, a gap of almost 15 years and more than 5 thousand miles between what Barbara
May 04, 2012 Wsclai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My feeling is mixed reading the book. I know that life in the Seige of Sarajevo in the 90's was difficult but it turned out to be unimaginably harsh. I have no idea that people struggled for years to live a normal life in the most absurd circumstances (no electricity, no gas, no security and no nothing). It was naive of me to think that no one would stay in the centre of the war zone but the truth was most did not leave Sarajevo, a place where they call 'Home'.

The news coverage and TV footages
Feb 16, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember the events of Sarajevo, but if I ever knew the causes, I had forgotten them. Barbara Demick, at the time a young foreign correspondent living and reporting from Sarajevo throughout its civil war, beautifully captures both the spirit of the people of Sarajevo and the nightmare they endured.

For centuries a city where religions coexisted peacefully (30% of marriages were of mixed religious backgrounds), fashionable and affluent Sarajevo became a war zone when Serbian nationalists besiege
Diane S ☔
May 30, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is just something so incredibly poignant and heartbreaking when one reads about real families in a war zone trying to keep living somewhat normal lives in very unnormal and dangerous circumstances. This book really brought the Bosnian Serbian conflict home to me. When people are forced to live in the backrooms or inner rooms of their homes, trying to keep their families safe and healthy, with very little in the way of food or medical care, work their gardens while being randomly bombed or ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I have read a few books on the Bosnia conflict and they have always left me frustrated as to what it was all about. Listening to the cast of characters in Barbara Demick's book you get a better sense of how the conflict evolved and why Sarajevo, once a proud multi cultural city, became the epicentre of the conflict. Demick skillfully depicts the fear and frustration of the neighbours on Logavina street and their determination to remain in their city throughout the years of bombardment where a vi ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I knew the street I wanted to write about the first time I walked up it. Even battered by war, it was a beautiful street…”

Logavina Street is a marvel. A hard-hitting, unflinching look at the two years Demick spent on this “six-block long history lesson”. She followed along with several families, in this Sarajevo neighborhood, as they led their daily lives, under a terrifying siege. Sniper fire and mortar-attacks came in a flash, leaving carnage and destruction. Dealing with food shortages, lack
Apr 01, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.0) What Sarajevo (or at least one predominantly Muslim enclave) was like in the 90s

Loved Nothing to Envy, so was eager to read more by Demick, uncharacteristically good author for a journalist. This was powerful as well, gives clear picture of what life was like in Sarajevo. I learned a lot about the political, social and military history of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Bosnia in particular, as the Serbs tried to prevent Bosnia from seceding as a predominantly Muslim independent state.

Jun 11, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book, even though it made me feel somewhat ashamed to be associated with "America." I was in high school when the Bosnian War was happening, but this journalistic piece of writing educated me the most about the reasons behind the war, the outcome of the war, and the war's place in history. But the author also beautifully captured the human side of the war....the sorrows, joys, dreams, fears, and beliefs of a people who were broadsided by this unnecessary war and end ...more
Kara Loffelmacher
Having studied the Siege of Sarajevo since it began in 1992, each book I read on the subject gives me a clearer understanding of the events that took place there, of the terror inflicted, of the emotion/s felt, of how each person and family's story differs, and yet has common currents. I loved this book and highly recommend it to people who love this place as I do, or simply want to try and understand a part of the world they may not come from.
Lauren orso
Feb 25, 2011 Lauren orso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2011
i felt like this was missing something that "nothing to envy" had, but demick is clearly a great journalist, and i've really been enjoying her work.

everything i knew about sarajevo til this point was from reading zlata's diary about 15 years ago (i just took it out of the library for a reread today!), so this was a good refresher and a really interesting story about the trauma of war and recovery.
Lauren Hopkins
Feb 18, 2014 Lauren Hopkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished her book about North Korea and since I'm kind of obsessed with the Balkans, was really excited to read her earlier work. Definitely an incredible work, telling the story of the war through the lives of actual people living on Logavina Street, a busy residential street in the heart of the war-torn city. Demick uses instances from their daily lives (everything from their humanitarian rations recipes to hooking up garden hoses to pump gas into their ovens) to talk about the civilian e ...more
Aleksandra Szranko
To nie jest łatwa lektura. I nie chodzi o treść, a o formę bardziej. Dobry pomysł - przedstawić życie pod ostrzałem na przykładzie konkretnej ulicy, konkretnych ludzi - który dopiero w 8. rozdziale zaczyna nabierać sensu, tempa i rumieńców. Trochę późno, trochę to było męczące, ale w sumie warto.
Nov 15, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I downloaded this book because I was in awe of the author's book Nothing to Envy . Furthermore, as I will be moving to the Balkans in the coming months, I wanted to understand some of the recent history of the region. Barbara Demick brings the heartache and tragedy of the war in Bosnia to her readers in an amazing way. As an American who was an infant during the Bosnian War, I admittedly know very little about it. It is easy just to export tragic statistics, but Demick puts faces to this dark c ...more
May 28, 2012 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from a Goodreads contest and I'm so glad that I did! What a good book! It is well written and the type of book that I began reading and just couldn't put down. I didn't pay attention to politics back in the early 1990's when the Bosnian war was in full swing, so this was all new material for me. What a sobering look at war from the perspectives of the multi-cultural backgrounds of the families living on Logavina Street. What strength these people had in the midst of the wors ...more
Easy stuff first. I received this free from a Goodreads giveaway.

Oh boy. I've had a facination about this subject since early 1993. Very pregnant with my 2nd child, I watched a news blurb on one of the VERY early news shows (I think it was World New Now). A woman, also very pregnant, was telling her story and I was in tears trying to imagine myself in the same situation.

This was a fast read and I felt intensely for each person who was interviewed. I felt for the journalist writing the stories.
Dec 26, 2012 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The Bosnian war is sort of a blur to me. I was directing theater and managing bands for most of the 1990's. This meant living on 2-3 hours of sleep and very little in the way of news or television. When you live in those worlds many things become a blip on the radar - you flag them in your head - "I should know more about that" - and then move on to whatever needs to be tackled next. Recently this flag popped up in my head again when I was offered a copy of the updated edition for review.

Sissel Mangurten
As far as books about the horrific siege of Sarajevo go, this is arguably the most human and heart-wrenching work there is. Demick's courage in compiling these stories is astounding and it had me crying out of sadness and frustration more than once. That aside, it's a wonderful study of the human psyche when confronted with the horrors of war. Like few other books, this depicts the dilemma between leaving behind your home -- which is an integral part of every Sarajevo resident in this work -- an ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Isis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book (because I can't afford to buy books and my local library doesn't have a copy), and enjoyed the experience of reading it very much. My one great blessing is that I read the Preface, and therefore knew that this copy is a revised edition - re-released years after the original came out. But the part that saved the book for me was knowing that the author was/is a journalist - one who covers war-torn areas - and that this book is a collection of individu ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Journalist Barbara Demick gives a microcosmic overview of life in the war torn capital of Bosnia and Herzegovena, by chronicling the lives of several resident families on Sarajevan Logavina Street throughout the siege and war for Bosnian independence 1992-96. On this street Serbs, Muslims, Catholics, Croatians, Bosnians were all intermingled, inter-related and intermarried and despite suffering equally from the constant barrage of shelling and mortar fire, families separated and members lost and ...more
Andrew Garvey
Sep 24, 2014 Andrew Garvey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's actually quite difficult, I'd guess, to write a bad book on the siege of Sarajevo. Surely anyone able to gather a few stories of the savagery, and explain the UN's absurd, cowardly response, can come up with something worth reading?

Demick's book, originally written in 1996 and now updated, is well worth reading. The stories she tells about Logavina Street and it's residents are moving and surprising, even for someone who's read so much about the destruction of Yugoslavia.

Thankfully, she bar
Ryan Moore
Mar 28, 2016 Ryan Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating microcosm of the Bosnian war. The story of a street, the people who lived there and the city they love. Sarajevo, an Olympic city turned to rubble. A fascinating read especially in the light of Karadzic's conviction and 40 year sentence in The Hague last week. We remember because it can happen again and indeed did. In Darfur....
Aug 05, 2012 Rachel72 rated it it was amazing
I read this during my recent tour of the Balkans, on the recommendation of our trip leader. It's a very powerful, moving and well written portrait of a number of families who lived in Logavina Street (the book's original title) during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992-1995. I was able to visit Logavina Street during the trip, and much of it has been restored, but many of the buildings still bear the damage from shelling.

The author was covering the war as a journalist and decided to choose a particu
Tina Wilson
May 20, 2014 Tina Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this as much as the previous one I read by her but it was still a good read. I had a harder time following all the different people she interviewed and keeping them straight which made it feel more disjointed. But I definitely know way more about Sarajevo and all that went on there during the Bosnian/Serbian conflict. An educational read.
May 31, 2012 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I was extremely ignorant about the war in Bosnia, and what happened to Yugoslavia. I am so pleased to have read this book and educated myself. This is a nonfiction account of the lives of the residents of one street in Sarejevo. Exploring the war through this microcosm was an interesting angle, and a very effective one. It is a story of pain and suffering, but with that survival and the indominable human spirit. I am grateful to have become aquainted ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Held off reading this for almost a year after reading "Nothing to Envy" because I didn't want to read all of Barbara Demick's great true life tales at once! Ended up reading this in 2 days because her style combined with the story made this all I could think about. Looking forward to reading of her experiences wherever she is assigned next.
Apr 30, 2012 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a reprint of a book written by Demick in the late 90s after the end of the Bosnian war, with a chapter added about Sarajevo in 2011. While doing research for the book she lived in Sarajevo on Logavina Street for nearly two years. She saw firsthand the devastation and experienced the daily bombings. Although she never discusses those things from her own perspective, I was constantly aware that her descriptions were not taken from viewing a televised report, but were her own from walking t ...more
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Just got my giveaway copy in the mail today 2 8 Jun 24, 2012 10:20PM  
  • Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War
  • Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia
  • The Fall of Yugoslavia
  • Goodbye Sarajevo
  • German Autumn
  • A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
  • Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia
  • Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee, Journalism's Legendary Editor
  • The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia
  • Sarajevo Marlboro
  • They Would Never Hurt a Fly: War Criminals on Trial in The Hague
  • Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying
  • Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia
  • The Death of Yugoslavia
  • Another Day of Life
  • How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone
  • The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo
  • Behind the Secret Window
Barbara Demick is an American journalist. She is currently Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood (Andrews & McMeel, 1996). Her next book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, was published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House in December 2009 and Granta Books in 2010.

Demick was correspondent for t
More about Barbara Demick...

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