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Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  687 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize


Peter Maass went to the Balkans as a reporter at the height of the nightmarish war there, but this book is not traditional war reportage. Maass examines how an ordinary Serb could wake up one morning and shoot his neighbor, once a friend--then rape that neighbor's wife. He conveys the desperation that makes a Muslim beg the United
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 25th 1997 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,810)
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Andrew Robins
Feb 20, 2013 Andrew Robins rated it it was amazing
I can genuinely only think of two books which have made me want to cry.

The first was My War Gone By, I Miss it So, which is Anthony Loyd's brilliant story of covering the wars in Bosnia and Chechnya, The second is this book, another reporter's story of covering the Balkan conflict.

Loyd's book focused on horrific stories of personal, human loss, something which is inescapable in books about the disintegration of Yugoslavia, but Peter Maass's book - as you might expect for one written in 1995, s
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Cheyenne Blue
May 01, 2012 Cheyenne Blue rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
The war the world ignored and then forgot. Peter Maass was a war correspondent for the Washington Post and he covered the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. This isn't about military campaigns though, it's stories of war, about ordinary people caught up in something horrific.

When Serbia invaded Bosnia, the Bosnians appealed for help from Europe and America and were fobbed off. The Serbian propaganda machine, meanwhile, spewed out tales of Bosnians bombing their own cities for sympathy, Bosnians shootin
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Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
While in 1992 I was taking my first trip to Europe, falling in love for the first time, getting my introduction to Pentecostalism and learning to live, people were being exterminated only several hundred miles away from me.
While I was going into my fourth year of high school education in Bulgaria, boys and girls my age were being raped and tortured and murdered and it took me 15 years to find that out. How is it that I knew nothing about that war? How is it I never paid attention to the news, n
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Kristopher
May 31, 2008 Kristopher rated it did not like it
The only reason i finished this book was because i just wanted to know the details of the Serbian-Bosnian war. But, it sincerely seems like this book was a first draft by a 17 year old kid that skipped the editor's desk and went straight to print. I find it hard to believe that any editor would have let all these horrible metaphors, digressions and excessive uses of the word "literally" be published, as is.

He made casual remarks that bordered on racist; diverted from the story of the Bosnian pl
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Laura
Sep 10, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Very interesting read about the war in the Balkans and the propensity of humans to fight and survive wars in general. Devastatingly difficult in many parts, glimmers of hope in others. Ultimately I feel the author's recommendations are too emotive and just as under-considered in terms of their practical consequence as those he criticises throughout the book, but that shouldn't take away from what an excellent book this is.
Noah
Jul 08, 2013 Noah rated it liked it
So for whatever reason, I became very fascinated by the Bosnian War. From what wikipedia told me, it was an absolute clusterfuck, but what really intrigued me was how such atrocities could occur in Europe just 20 years ago. It's something I never learned about, nor ever really heard about. But over 200,000 Bosnians were killed as the result of genocide with countless more being subjected to rape, ethnic cleansing, torture, and expatriation.

Peter Maass recounts the war through his memoirs as a jo
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Jarome
May 01, 2008 Jarome rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love it when journalists write books to cover a story from a more behind the scenes perspective. None of us will deny that our news-media coverage of events are filtered and sometimes just a joke. However, this not only taught me about the Bosnia-Serbian conflict, okay, 'war', but it gave me yet more insight into the man's-inhumanity-to-man scenario, revolving around the idea of, what people will do and say based, not on what they know, but on what someone else says.

I went through so many emot
...more
Andrew
Jan 16, 2015 Andrew rated it liked it
Insightful into the conflict in Bosnia, as well as some history. Maass manages to both provide some testimonies of big name perpetrators, as well as survivors. However, his is a work mainly revolving around his experiences in Bosnia and reporting on it. It's a fascinating read by all means, but the style - which seems to be like a personal journal or diary, also the noting without numbering makes it slightly cluttered. This is why I rated it lower. Otherwise, I think it's a fascinating read into ...more
Rebecca
May 27, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
I am glad I read this book, but I can't say I liked it. I don't think one can really like a book detailing the comprehensive genocide of a people. Maass' descriptions are graphic, but they need to be in order to convey the absolute horror that ransacked Bosnia during the early 90s. He is unapologetic in his condemnation of Serb leadership, Croat leadership and especially the international community that allowed Serbs to run rampant all over the Balkans without so much as a slap on the wrist. I s ...more
Lark
Jul 09, 2014 Lark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Having recently traveled in Eastern Europe, I have become increasingly interested in the recent (last 20-60 years) history of this region. This book was an eye opener for one who, living in the U.S., received conflicting information from our government concerning the Bosnian War. I almost couldn't put this down and so appreciate how Mr. Maass remains fair and objective until the near end of his time as a reporter there, when the brutality of the Serbs and his frustration with the West's refusal ...more
Lindsay Wilson
Reading about historical events from the perspective of a journalist is always appealing to me because of the fact that the information is (almost) always presented in such a readable way. Love Thy Neighbor is no exception. Maass does a great job condensing a ton of information about the Bosnian War into around 300 pages, and it never felt particularly slow. Granted, I find the Bosnian War fascinating, but I still feel like I can say with confidence that this account is fairly fast-paced.

The do
...more
Georgia Roybal
Mar 30, 2013 Georgia Roybal rated it really liked it
This was quite an intense book which examined not just the war in Bosnia, but how humans are led to do horrible things to one another by circumstances and evil people. When I am reading I usually sit and read while I eat. This book could not be read while eating. As a Jewish person, the description of the genocide made me ill. Here are some particularly powerful quotes from the book:

"I never thought that one day I would talk to a skeleton. That's what I did at Trnopollje. I walked through the ga
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Josie
Aug 27, 2015 Josie rated it really liked it
Peter Maass' well-written account of experiencing (albeit as a reporter) the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s. He criticizes the US for waiting too long and doing too little to help the Bosnians survive the Serbian invasion - and then forcing Bosnia to cede territory to the Serbs as the price for peace. He's a little narcissistic, and like many books it could use a good edit, but overall well done. I highly recommend it.
Terry Parker
Aug 08, 2014 Terry Parker rated it really liked it
You know, as a reporter, I think Peter Maass did an excellent job. He was objective enough, yet personal enough that his story of being in the Balkans came across sincere and true.

It was the kind of reporting that you or I might write, in that we would see things, hear things, that may or may not be quite true, and yet the evidence is there, but the perpetrators are refuting everything. The question is always, could we do more? Could we step out of the cocoon of reporting and protect, soothe, or
...more
Ubah Khasimuddin
Dec 30, 2014 Ubah Khasimuddin rated it it was amazing
A must read for all students of the Balkans or who are heading there. It is a hard read, you will cry and marvel at just how cruel humans can be to another but it should be required reading for all students of European history. Maass tells in graphic detail of the atrocities and horrors of the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.
George
Mar 21, 2015 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tremendously depressing and troubling book, I nonetheless think that everyone should read it. Maas does an excellent job of communicating the tragedy of the genocide in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Unless you are a sociopath, you will be moved, saddened and disgusted by the horrors perpetrated by the combatants and the so-called civilized world. Finally, his epilogue is relevant to us today and is needed food for thought.
Milan
Dec 20, 2014 Milan rated it did not like it
This is very biased. The author despises brutal action of some small balkan tribes but on the other side is full of understanindg for oil-wars or other wars where "grand nations" prove their point. And who cites Richard Nixon anymore for God's sakes?! Or Bill Clinton? Hilarious.
Toni Azad
May 22, 2016 Toni Azad rated it it was amazing
Journalist Peter Maass traveled throughout Bosnia during the Bosnian war and its a given that the book provides many details and insights into what happened during the war. For me though what makes this book such a critical read right now is the case he makes that especially when it's advantageous to politicians it is easy to divide groups of people against each other. We all like to say never again, but yet there is a lurking evil in our humanness that does let things like this continue to happ ...more
Shawna
Oct 01, 2015 Shawna rated it it was amazing
Engaging narrative about an important historical event. The subject matter is challenging (as all wars should be) but Maass presents it in a way that makes it relatable and human, as it should be. If only more people understood war through narratives like this one.
Devan Sipher
Feb 18, 2012 Devan Sipher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Never forget" was the watchword after Hitler. Yet the world mostly ignored the atrocities of the Bosnian war -- and then mostly forgot about it afterward. Peter Maass displays a Hemingwayesque style as he uses his sharp reporter's eye to depict one of humanity's lowest moments, depicting Sarajevo, a city that once hosted the Olympics Winter Games, as a surreal deathtrap. But he abandons his journalistic objectivity to expresses his bewilderment at the world's response. He uses humor to leaven t ...more
Robert Gustavo
Mar 01, 2016 Robert Gustavo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a book that has stuck with me for decades, and which I really want to reread. Terrifying, disgusting, completely depressing and at times darkly funny.

Or I have completely misremembered it. Or I am a monster, and was laughing at things that no normal person would laugh at. Who can tell?

Not the happiest book I have read, however.
Ivar
Feb 07, 2014 Ivar rated it liked it
A very personal and good account about the Bosnian war and the appeasement conducted by the West. Although the book was very good I found parts of it slow and thought that the 'flow' sometimes was interrupted.
Peter Owens
Aug 21, 2014 Peter Owens rated it it was amazing
This book is to Yugoslavia what "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" was to Rwanda.
Cat.
Jun 18, 2012 Cat. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could only read the first 80 or so pages because of the time at which I was reading it; it's VERY depressing. The author places the whole mess of the war(s) in Bosnia and Croatia in the laps of a very few Serbian ultra-nationalists who corrupt other Serbs into thinking they need to side with their fellow Serbs. The worst part is that the rest of the world is so clueless about this while it's going on under their noses. Yugoslavia was integrated and fairly cosmopolitan before the war; this real ...more
Patrick
Jul 14, 2008 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Out of all of the books I have recently read pertaining to the war in the Balkans and more specifically in Bosnia, this one is the most clear, concise, and brutally honest one i have come across. Maass shows what it is like to be a journalist during war time, which can include braveness, pettiness, and utter dejection with humanity. As well as explaing the crisis he also brings up questions on human nature that reflect what is happening currently today. A must read for anyone who is interested i ...more
Ted Newell
Mar 29, 2013 Ted Newell rated it it was amazing
Amazing book which does not overdose on the gory but gives a sense of what it might be like to live day after day for two or three years in a horrific war. His description of life in Banja Luka for Muslims is harrowing, his visits to the cleaned up concentration camps, and his description of the young man shot on Sniper Alley in Sarajevo. Unforgettable. He even met Milosevic one on one. He does not dismiss the Serbs as primitives, or single out Rwandans, or isolate anybody, rather, the capacity ...more
Janine Farhat
Jun 01, 2016 Janine Farhat rated it liked it
Tough read but so helpful to understand the region
Louise Geoghegan
About to start this. I've been told this is one of the best non-biased insights about the travesty of the Bosnian war. After having visited quite a lot of Eastern Europe, I've always been interested in this period of time having been alive when when it happened, albeit very young, I was five when the USSR and essentially Yugoslavia dissolved, yet have never really had any concrete knowledge as to why all the hosility and killings came about. Quite hard to swallow that it only ended 15 years ago ...more
Sara Moninger
Oct 31, 2007 Sara Moninger rated it really liked it
If you didn't already take with a grain of salt what the U.S. government (or any government, for that matter) tells the press, this book will convince you otherwise. It's a reporter's account of the conflict in Bosnia and how the U.S. government downplayed it and refused to intervene. The author interviewed in person Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic (talk about an evil man!). We'd of course like to think of Hitler's heinous reign as an isolated incident, an exception to the rule, but the Ser ...more
Brendan
Sep 17, 2007 Brendan rated it it was amazing
Some folks question some of Maass' history, but I'm not qualified to quibble. What I can say is that I've never read a more passionate and exquisitely readable piece of war journalism than this. Sure, Michael Herr's Vietnam War classic Dispatches might qualify as better literature, but it's loads less accessible. For what he loses in style, Maass gains in immediacy: crossing Serb checkpoints or interviewing Muslims in modern-day concentration camps. The narrative is alive with danger but also wi ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Please add page numbers 5 20 May 30, 2014 01:47PM  
  • My War Gone By, I Miss It So
  • Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya
  • The Fall of Yugoslavia
  • Endgame: The Betrayal And Fall Of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II
  • A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
  • The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia
  • Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia
  • Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation
  • They Would Never Hurt a Fly: War Criminals on Trial in The Hague
  • The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans
  • The Death of Yugoslavia
  • Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History
  • Kosovo: War and Revenge
  • Never the Hope Itself: Love and Ghosts in Latin America and Haiti
  • The Master of Confessions: The Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer
  • The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken
  • History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s
  • International Relations

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“The people were divided into the persecuted and those who persecuted them. That wile beast, which lives in man and does not dare to show itself until the barriers of law and custom have been removed, was now set free. The signal was given, the barriers were down. As has so often happened in the history of man, permission was tacitly granted for acts of violence and plunder, even for murder, if they were carried out in the name of higher interests, according to established rules, and against a limited number of men of a particular type and belief....In a few minutes the business quarter, based on centuries of tradition, was wiped out. It is true that there had always been concealed enmities and jealousies and religious intolerance, coarseness and cruelty, but there had also been courage and fellowship and a feeling for measure and order, which restrained all these instincts within the limits of the supportable and, in the end, calmed them down and submitted them to the general interest of life in common. Men who had been leaders in the commercial quarter for forty years vanished overnight as if they had all died suddenly, together with the habits, customs and institutions which they represented.

p. 11”
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“Bosnia's war had its visual hallmarks. Parks that were turned into cemeteries, refugee families piled onto horse-drawn carts, stop-or-die checkpoints with mines across the road. The most hideous hallmark of all was the blackened patch of ground in the center of town. It always meant the same thing, a destroyed mosque. The goal of ethnic cleansing was not simply to get rid of Muslims; it was to destroy all traces that they had ever lived in Bosnia. The goal was to kill history. If you want to do that, then you must rip out history's heart, which in the case of Bosnia's Muslim community meant the destruction of its mosques. Once that was done, you could reinvent the past in whatever distorted form you wanted, like Frankenstein.

p. 85”
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