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Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia Nineteen Ninety-Two to Nineteen Ninety-Five

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,682 ratings  ·  481 reviews
Now available in softcover, Safe Area Gorazde is Joe Sacco's 240-page best-selling opus about war in the former Yugoslavia. Sacco spent months in Bosnia in 1995-1996, immersing himself in the human side of life during wartime, researching stories rarely found in conventional news coverage. The book focuses on the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, which was besieged by Bosnian Ser ...more
School & Library Binding, 227 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Rebound by Sagebrush (first published June 2000)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  8,682 ratings  ·  481 reviews

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Start your review of Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia Nineteen Ninety-Two to Nineteen Ninety-Five
Really bad things happened in Bosnia and dumb-asses like me read about it in a comic book. I shrink in shame.


I think this may be one of the most moving and gut-wrenching books about war that I've ever read. I'm not sure why it made so much more of an impact on me than all of the other books of war journalism I've read over the years. There's something about it that just really gets under your skin. Maybe it's that Sacco can show us these people -- not just tell us what they looked like, but actually draw them as they look when they are most vulnerable or most ugly and violent. The plight of the denizen ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not the faint of heart!
If you asked me to summarize this book with one word I would say...

If you gave me two worlds, I would say...

If you gave me three, I would say...

Occasionally I feel remiss when it comes to world history/politics/current events. Occasionally it occurs to my knowledge of wars goes something like this:

-people in North America didn't like taxes so they threw tea around and then there was a war and now we have 4th of July.

-People were mean and stupid
Dave Schaafsma
I recently read Terrorist, a comics history book about the assassination that triggered WWI, and was nudged to reread Sacco's wonderful text, set in the same region, speaking to some of the same ethnic politics/history, of course, and I discovered this special edition, issued in 2011. I think the original came out in 2001, and it was based, like his also classic Palestine, on Sacco's first person comics journalism in the region. He isn't ever trying to pretend he is just some fly on the wall. He ...more
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devasting is the first word that comes to mind. The story of the Bosnian War is a bit complicated (like most wars) but here is a radically condensed summary: Yugoslavia was made up of mostly Croatians, Serbians, and Muslims. And after WWII, the then president Josip Broz, commonly known as Tito, looked to down play ethnic nationalism and have each group live side by side peacefully. Then Tito died and Serbian nationalism took hold through the new Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, who became ...more
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ethnic cleansing, torture, and rape seem like strange subjects for a graphic novel, yet somehow...this book works. Seeing the faces of the victims, not just reading about them, only serves to make the story all the more horrifying.

Sacco uses his black and white drawings as photo journalism, telling the tale of a safe zone that proved to be anything but safe for its residents. He offers up a history of the war through interviews with survivors, many living in bombed out shells that used to be ho
Nuno R.
When I was first reading this (and did not imagine that there was more graphic journalism of this kind - I only knew MAUS as graphic non fiction) it was so hard for me, at first, to think of Joe Sacco explaining what he was doing, in Gorazde. It all felt so groundbreaking, and fragile and absolutelly brave.

There was a journalist, in a very unstable area, doing a story about war. He goes there so he can listen and take notes, talk to people, hear their stories, so he can produce a comic book. In
Aamil Syed
What a vivid portrayal of a shameful human tragedy! The Bosnian wars were an unpardonable failure of the UN and the international community but we don't read about it at all. Joe Sacco does brilliant work in bringing the war to us using amazing artwork and a compelling narrative style. This should be widely read. ...more
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Safe Area Gorazde is a stunning work, combining the best traits of journalism, comics, and historical non-fiction. What really makes this book exceptional is the fact that Joe Sacco has mastered all of the elements of his craft - the writing and the art hold up equally well despite the high standards that Sacco has evidently set for himself.[return][return]The tale told herein is alternately thrilling, horrifying, and redeeming, but manages to hit all of those high points without an excess of au ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-my-30s
To me, Sacco came off as kinda creepy but I did like that the majority of the book wasn't about his experiences or opinions (I didn't care for those parts). I appreciated that he presented the stories of a few of those who lived it. ...more
A Man Called Ove
3.5/5 First things first - Loved the neat, sharp drawings.
This was my first book on the Balkanisation of Yugoslavia and it focused on Gorazde - a part of Bosnia. The title is apt and ironical as Gorazde had been declared a "Safe Area" yet it was far from safe. The book explains the roots of the conflict and then details the events of the war and the mindset of the Bosnian Muslims and their experiences. It was moving it was a one-sided war and the author brought out the stories of the victims' s
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What are some people capable of doing…it’s just unbelievable. War in Bosnia was literally like your friends stabbing you in the back only because of some nationalistic shit.

Anyway, I really did like Sacco’s style. His drawings are pretty realistic, reading this comics took me way too longer than some other pieces of sequential art. It just demanded more of my attention to absorb its whole message. Only thing I missed there was view from the other side, what have Serbs to say about all they have
Christopher Roth
Not just one of the best things I've ever seen about the Yugoslav Wars of Succession, but one of the best arguments for non-fiction comics. Very powerful book. It gets deep into the inexplicable phenomenon of how Serbs turned on their Muslim neighbors almost overnight when war erupted in Bosnia. Puts a human face on the Bosnian war more than anything I've read. ...more
This is a book I would probably have never known about if it hadn't been for a little workshop I attended during my teaching degree. Which would have been a sad loss for me, because this is an excellent book, vivid and educational, emotional and honest, a book that brings a complex and confusing war into your lap, at the same time beautiful in its artistic skill, and heart-wrenching in the agony of its story.

Goražde (pronounced "go-RAJH-duh") is a town in Bosnia, which used to be part of Yugosla
Mateen Mahboubi
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the masters in comics journalism, Sacco has proven himself to be an expert at reporting from war-torn areas in such a unique way. Perfectly embedding himself with the locals and really getting the full story in a way that most cannot. I'm sure that some can criticize volumes like this for not showing "both sides" but in most cases, that's not the point. This is the lived experience for so many people every day and Sacco is showing it.

The Bosinan War was a real low point in the late 20th c
Vivek Kulanthaivelpandian
The moment you pick up any graphic novel book, habitually you expect the story to move like a well thought out interesting drama infused fictional plot. In this book I felt the same way in the first few pages , but had to remind me often that it is not a work of fiction . So patiently read through the pages where there were conversations than action. Joe, like all of his other works has put in a lot of effort to visually reconstruct the events he witnessed while he was there and also visual spec ...more
Joe Sacco's mission in life is to give exposure to people who are normally overlooked and forgotten. In Safe Area Gorazde, he excels at doing so. It is part history, part travelogue, and part war journalism all wrapped up into a graphic novel. The art is gritty and violent, and does not shy away from showing all of the horrors of war and genocide. The illustrations are impressive, but they cannot be said to look pretty- although that is part of the point. The subject matter and the world are ugl ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do I put what I've just read into words? A picture is worth a thousand words and Sacco grabs ahold of this concept in this profound and enormously well-captured work on the Bosnian War. Serbians and Muslims, who were literally living next door as neighbors, somehow managed to hate and kill each other in a way that eerily parallels the horrors during WWII. Although strictly from the POV's of Bosnians and never from the side of the enemy, I still believe it's a great piece of journalistic work ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“The awful and frightening fact about fascism is that it ‘takes’ only a few gestures (a pig’s head in a mosque; a rumour of the kidnap of a child; an armed provocation at a wedding) to unsettle or even undo the communal and human work of generations.”

So says the late Christopher Hitchens in his evocative introduction. It doesn't take long for Sacco to put us right into in the action with the way that he beautifully captures the grim architecture and ruined places of the war torn town of Gorazde.
Robert Gustavo
I think it’s about time to acknowledge that I’m just not going to get back to this, and declare it done.

It’s not that the subject matter is horrifying — it is horrifying, by the way — but it just didn’t draw me in and make me want to finish it. I’ve read all sorts of books on the Bosnian genocide, so I might be missing the shock value of the book, and I just didn’t find the characters compelling.

I’m sure the actual people living through this had compelling stories to tell, but Sacco didn’t capt
Ryan Mishap
Like with Palestine, his previous graphic account of life in the occupied territories, I didn’t like Sacco. Here, though, he’s less evident while recounting his experiences in the title town during the Bosnian war. As the Serbs aggressively attacked their Bosnian neighbors, took territory and lives while the world community stood by, “safe areas” were supposed to be fire-free zones under UN protection. The reality on the ground is illustrated brilliantly as Sacco draws out people’s stories while ...more
Luke McCallin
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having worked myself in Gorazde, I know of few more interesting or addictive places. This graphic novel captures the experience of that city under siege brilliantly, as well as the wider war in all its internecine fury and tragedy. Mr. Sacco's artwork and text are insightful, trenchant and acerbic (no pun intended...!). Bosnians' sense of humour shines through, such that you find yourself giggling at what seems like the most inopportune moments. But then, isn't that as well part of war, and isn' ...more
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Sacco spent five months in war ravaged Bosnia during 1996 and put together his experiences for a very compelling read. During his time in the former Yugoslavia, it shows how man can be so ugly and unforgiving. His novel touches on many friends he met while in country and tries to show a side of the world that was hidden from most of the general public. It's excellent stuff and well worth the time. ...more
Timothy Urban
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything this guy does is stand-out brilliant. You'll be moved by it, you'll be educated, you hopefully be more humane. ...more
Tom Johnson
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i am grading this as a graphics nonfiction, Joe Sacco calls his book comics journalism. this type of book can't be compared to a strictly written text. Apples and oranges. His method of relating the failure of the world community is unrelenting. I found it impossible not to be affected by Sacco's drawings. The story is basically, WWII flares up again with the same actors and allegiances. (over a million Yugoslavs died during the war) The Balkans have a complicated past and present. (ah religion. ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bearing witness to tragedy and genocide is a task that requires, and Joe Sacco has certainly demonstrated this strength. Safe Area Goražde requires strength to read, but the honesty this book offers about the Bosnian war is worth the effort.

I read this book because Hillary Chute in her book Why Comics devotes an entire chapter to Joe Sacco, and Safe Area Goražde takes up much of her focus as the book has become a landmark work such as Maus in that it has reimagined the boundaries and possibiliti
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heart-breaking. Frightening. Disturbing.

Joe Sacco takes us into a Bosnian town, Gorazde, in 1995, cut off from the outside world, surrounded by Bosnian Serbian forces. We meet these people who have endured relentless attacks, have barely survived a genocide, as they start enjoying supplies brought by UN convoys, recount their histories, remember a time when they lived side by side, hosted, were friends with, the same people who were killing them, burning their homes, raping the women in the comm
Using self-depreciating humour, Sacco portrays himself of being a bumbling, unsure and confused journalist each time he covers a war zone. Here too, we see him the same avatar. However, what makes him a creative genius is his ability to unflinchingly ink traumatic events and portray them as a devastating piece of literature - in the comic medium!

The NATO bombings happened in the early phase of my teenage years. So in a way, my first experience of reading about a real-time war was probably the B
An exceptional historical account of a journalist's time spent in one of Bosnia's safe areas during the war. This book, while visceral yet important, brings the reader into the lives of real Gorazdeans who lived thru their isolation and despair of the war. Sacco's artwork is amazing, adding the light-hearted desires and adaptations of peoples who were surrounded by nationalistic Serbs and whose Serbs friends turned on them during the relentless conflict. The story is well researched yet the grap ...more
Lucille Zimmerman
I'm trying to understand the incredibly complex history of the Bosnian War.

I watched the five hour PBS documentary that shows what happened after the Yogoslavian leader died. After that I read a smattering of books.

Still, I feel like I only understand a tiny bit.

This book was deep, painful, complex, and yes, even funny.

It's written in comic book form and makes a wonderful addition for those who want to understand what happened in this part of the world during the years of 1992 - 1995.
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Joe Sacco was born in Malta on October 2, 1960. At the age of one, he moved with his family to Australia, where he spent his childhood until 1972, when they moved to Los Angeles. He began his journalism career working on the Sunset High School newspaper in Beaverton, Oregon. While journalism was his primary focus, this was also the period of time in which he developed his penchant for humor and sa ...more

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