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My War Criminal: Personal Encounters with an Architect of Genocide

2.65  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  14 reviews
An investigation into the nature of violence, terror, and trauma through conversations with a notorious war criminal by Jessica Stern, one of the world's foremost experts on terrorism.

Between October 2014 and November 2016, global terrorism expert Jessica Stern held a series of conversations in a prison cell in The Hague with Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb former
ebook, 352 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Ecco
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Jan 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
Usually I do not write reviews, especially of books I will never read. Reason I am writing this is that some excerpts from NYT written by author I find most disturbing. This book is written about Radovan Karadźić, Bosnian Serbs warlord and a man convicted of genocide, first time in Europe since WWII. Even tough the main protagonist of her book is convicted of genocide, in whole book you do not hear victims point of view, but at the end the Author bought this monsters statement and conclude that ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it did not like it

Edit 1/31/20: Morbid curiosity got the best of me, so I listened to the audiobook. I've since edited my review to reflect that.

Edit 1/23/20: This damning review from the NYT confirms my worst fears.
I don't think I can read this, as it centers the perpetrator as opposed to the victims. On the "hell no" shelf it goes.

Initially, I was extremely mislead by a blurb I read about this book. I had assumed that it would be a biography of Karadzic that combined
Alisson F.w. Burgher
Jan 31, 2020 rated it did not like it

I love to read about loose minds of persons from the now and past. About war criminals/convicts/killers. If you would ask me why? The answer is simple:

They all have something twisted in their mind in a sick way.

This book shows a completely different view on a war criminal:

He gave orders that killed and slaughtered lots of people, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE.

The Serbs were attacked first. The Serbs think they are becoming a minority. The Serbs think Yugoslavia limited them from becoming the
Tea Sefer
Jan 31, 2020 rated it did not like it
I really gave this book a shot after all the uproar over the NY Times article about it, but it is absolutely offensive. Stern idolizes Karadzic - a convicted war criminal, and continuously explains how mesmerized she is by his demeanor and stature. She "wants an A" from him - actual language she uses. She spent 48 hours interviewing Karadzic which was enough time for her to learn and regurgitate genocide denial propaganda throughout the book. My dad was interned in a concentration camp in ...more
Susan Paxton
This is a potentially valuable book with lessons and warnings for the present, but it is wretchedly poorly executed. Many reviewers have complained that Stern appears to find Karadzik fascinating, even attractive; this in itself is not the problem with the book, as there is a model for this kind of thing, namely the late Gitta Sereny's biography of Albert Speer. Sereny clearly liked Speer a great deal; that did not prevent her from taking a cold-eyed look at what Speer could never come to admit, ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is as much about the author's reaction to Karadzic as it about Karadzic himself. Not quite what I signed up for.
Style & engagement: (2/5)
I was skeptical of the outrage surrounding the release of My War Criminal. I’ve read a number of reviews that criticize the “50 Shades of Grey”-style writing that colors the book, and that claim sounded overblown to me. But I have been surprised to feel that that criticism is completely warranted, at least for parts of the book. Stern describes a personal infatuation with Radovan Karađić that is definitely unsettling. The author's almost-romantic wording feels
Jeff Samuelson
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well balanced and worth a read.
NonFiction 24/7
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I expected but an interesting read. I respect the amount of fact checking the author put into the book. The story was a little hard to follow because I knew nothing about the events in the book. I don't think we will truly understand these events.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Wish I could do half stars. 3 is too much, 2 is too many. Just wasn't great.
Janet Gordon
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting look at a war criminal.
Walter Neto
I'll probably need to read the bible or something else after...
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway

I thought this book was good. I wasn’t a huge fan of the format (5-10 pages of notes after every chapter) but the content was interesting.
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Jan 29, 2020
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Jessica Stern is a Lecturer in Public Policy and a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 1994-95, she served as Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, where she was responsible for national security policy toward Russia and the former Soviet states and for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear ...more
“I feel I’ve learned how an ethnic war can start, maybe even a genocide. First, there is the fear of an Other, a fear of being eclipsed, based on a kernel of truth. Someone’s social status is improving at someone else’s expense; someone’s demographic advantage may be at risk. A particular kind of leader may arise at such moments: a populist who understands the pain of those whose luck is running out, who claims to know how to protect those who are feeling victimized. He will profess to have no desire for political power. He may be a poet or an artist or a billionaire “drafted” into the position by the will of the people. He will simultaneously stir up people’s fear—of globalization, or demographic shifts, or multiculturalism—and claim to be the only one able to redress it. The binding ingredient is fear. Fear knits the leader to his followers. Fear becomes a rallying cry and a weapon. Over time, the victims, in thrall to their savior, become perpetrators.” 0 likes
“based on them, I was later to learn, make all sides involved in the war look even worse than we believed them to be at the time, including Western governments” 0 likes
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