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Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995
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Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  7,098 Ratings  ·  388 Reviews
Praised by The New York Times, Brill's Content and Publishers Weekly, Safe Area Gorazde is the long-awaited and highly sought after 240-page look at war in the former Yugoslavia. Sacco (the critically-acclaimed author of Palestine) spent five months in Bosnia in 1996, immersing himself in the human side of life during wartime, researching stories that are rarely found in c ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 28th 2001 by Fantagraphics Books (first published 2000)
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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
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
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Ikra Amesta
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Kejayaan Nazi memang sudah lama berlalu, namun filosofi fasis-nya masih terus diusung pada setiap perang dimanapun setelahnya. Tengoklah prahara di Gorazde. Sebuah daerah kantong di Bosnia Timur yang dikepung oleh pasukan separatis Serbia (Chetnik) sejak awal perang Bosnia. Sebagian dari populasinya adalah Muslim dan telah lama sebelumnya hidup berdampingan dengan orang-orang Serbia sampai akhirnya perang mengguratkan garis pemisah yang sangat jelas di antara keduanya.

Perang Bosnia adalah sebua
David Schaafsma
I recently read Terrorist about the assassination that triggered WWI, and was nudged to reread Sacco's wonderful text, set in the same region, beset by some of the same ethnic politics/history, of course, and 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's there, and often self dep ...more
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.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
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
Murat G.
1992-1995 arası Doğu Bosna'daki (Birleşmiş Milletler'in seyirci kaldığı) katliamların, tecavüzlerin, yokluğun, sefaletin tanıkların gözünden aktarıldığı bu "çizgibelgesel"i okuduktan sonra bir "Drina" daha yakmaktan başka elden ne gelir? Belki de bunu düşünmek lazım.

Nitekim çok değil henüz 20-25 yıl önce yaşanan bu insanlık suçlarına uzak geçmişte kalmış ve bir daha yaşanmayacak korkunç olaylar dizisi gözüyle bakmanın hata olacağı kanaatindeyim ve Brexit ile beraber sallantıda olan AB nin kaderi
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic, bosnianwar
"Kupikir, kalau bisa, aku membunuh tiga saja dari mereka sebelum aku mati. Aku tidak rela ditangkap.... Harapan kami satu-satunya adalah bantuan dunia. Kami sudah menunggu berbulan-bulan dan bertahun-tahun. Kami berharap PBB bisa menghentikannya... Tetapi, mereka tidak berbuat apa-apa." (Edin, penduduk Gorazde ~ halaman 172)

Mengingat Bosnia selalu ada nyeri di hati. Ya, saya tahu peristiwa ini telah berlalu, 20 tahun lalu. Saya juga hanya seorang pelajar SMA jelang kuliah yang kala itu menyimak
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
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
Nuno Ribeiro
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 ...more
Ryan Mishap
Aug 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
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.
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
Robert Gustavo
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: tiresome
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
Souvik Jana

The thing about graphic-nonfictions is that they can be gone through real quickly but it takes long to grasp them. Every time you reopen the book, you discover some more details in the sketch that you have missed before.

In 1992, Sacco travelled Sarajevo to cover the Bosnian war and later relocated to the besieged exclave of Gorazde. His sketch of the houses with bear paw marks from the Howitzer shells and mass slaughters like Srebrenica brings alive the frustration in the people and intensity of

Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I started reading this book, I didn’t know anything about the Bosnian War apart from the fact that it happened. Now I feel like I know too much. Such horrendous suffering brought upon people and for what? I still don’t know. Everyone should read this book.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Con la caída de la zona segura de Srebrenica y el exterminio de sus musulmanes varones, la gestión de la ONU en Bosnia tocó fondo. Su misión de paz había fracasado.
Marian Sousan
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this for school. I didn’t really like it very much because the imagery was really graphic for people my age and I thought it was really unnecessary. This was supposed to help teach me about genocide, however it did not add to my knowledge whatsoever.

Safe Area Gorazde is about an American reporter, Joe, traveling to Gorazde and interviewing victims of the Serbs in a Muslim enclave. The graphic novel shows graphic and vile images that describe accounts of murder, torture, and rape. The set
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
really informative and heartbreaking, but sexist
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Certainly better than his book about Palestine. I like his art style in general but his story telling is very messy, he doesnt follow a linear line so you often need to go back to check if something happened before or after the point you are reading. In this book about Gorazde and Bosnia he managed to open my eyes to the realities I missed about this war and let me dive in depth to the human condition in Gorazde which even today I have a hard time to find materials about. You'd think after all t ...more
Timothy Urban
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everything this guy does is stand-out brilliant. You'll be moved by it, you'll be educated, you hopefully be more humane.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]Sacco has a superb portrait here of a community under siege, not actually sure if there is a future, yet alone what it might hold (there were persistent rumours that Gora~de might be traded to the Serbs in return for concessions elsewhere). He shows himself as an outsider, both slightly sinister (with his eyes never visible behind his glasses) and slightly absurd (with his lips grotesquely enlarged, giving him literally a big mouth). The inha ...more
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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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