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Paperback The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia Volume 11 Book

ISBN: 0520216628

ISBN13: 9780520216624

The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia Volume 11

(Part of the Comparative Studies in Religion and Society Series)

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Book Overview

The recent atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stunned people throughout the world. With Holocaust memories still painfully vivid, a question haunts us: how is this savagery possible? Michael A. Sells answers by demonstrating that the Bosnian conflict is not simply a civil war or a feud of age-old adversaries. It is, he says, a systematic campaign of genocide and a Christian holy war spurred by religious mythologies.This passionate yet reasoned...

Customer Reviews

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An indispensable source for understandning the Bosnian war

Although of Serbian origin, Michael Sells offers a detailed, unbiased and honest analysis of Serbian nationalism and Christian fundamentalism. Sells argues that Christian mythology and extremism helped enable the annihilation of an entire people. Driven by an ancient hatred for the Turks which dates back to the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Serbs have always viewed Muslims as their primary adversary. Today, many Serbian nationalists deliberately associate Bosnian Muslims with the Ottomans even though no such link exists. However, this is sophisticated propaganda, the goal of which is to mislead the Serbian people and to induce hatred in them. This strategy turned out to be very successful because it unleashed the extermination of Bosnian Muslims. Numerous testimonies offered by the survivors of the Bosnian war lend considerable support to Sells' thesis, namely that Christian extremism played a pivotal role in justifying the genocide of Bosnian Muslims. For example, many survivors reported being called "bloody Turks" by Serbs soldiers. Other similar derogatory slurs were frequently used by Serb soldiers, revealing great hatred for Muslims. Moreover, a systematic destruction of mosques and other Islamic architecture indicate that the Serbs wanted to obliterate every single trace of Islam in Bosnia. The fact that every single mosque has been destroyed in Republika Srpska speaks for itself. Conversely, many churches remain intact in the area controlled by the Bosnian government. In point of fact, only a few churches have been destroyed. It needs to be pointed out that Croats also purposely targeted historical monuments, as is evident in their destruction of Stari Most, the infamous old bridge in Mostar, the symbolic significance of which cannot be overstressed. For many years, the bridge had symbolized co-existence and a multiethnic society. By destroying the bridge, the Croat nationalists sent a clear message, namely that co-existence was not feasible. Christian fundamentalism and propaganda are also highly evident in literary works of many Christian writers. A novelist and a recipient of Nobel Prize, Ivo Andric, depicted Muslims as primitive and intransigent extremists whose principal goal was to create an Islamic state in Bosnia, clearly oblivious to the fact that Bosnia was a secularized society. Many renowned Serbian authors openly express similar views, one of which is Vuk Draskovic, known for his bigotry, parochialism and Islamophobia. Paradoxically, few attempts are made in Serbia to criticize these preposterous let alone distorted assertions, the sole purpose of which is to defame the adherents of the Islamic faith. Sells further correctly points out in his book that the Western (read Christian) world knowingly stood by and allowed for the Bosnian genocide to continue. The evidence to corroborate this claim is abundant. The imposition of the arms embargo, constant futile negotiations with a notorious war criminal Milosevic and Vance-Owens'


An excellent book that looks at the role of Serbian and partly Croatian church in creation of genocidal actions against Bosnia and its citizens. Excellent book. From a reader that has read hundreds of books on this topic, I would strongly recommend it as my number one choice.

Essential Realities

Perpaps no other single book does so much to be 'scared straight' about the realities of 4 critical issues: how religion (here Christianity) and abuse of history can be mainpulated to cause war and attrocities; how and why the word (and international law implications) genocide was avoided; the resulting complicity of the press and international institutions that are supposed to keep peace and stand for principles; how simple answers like 'always fighting each other' were lies and evasions by people wanting a rationalization for not getting involved and even for not caring. It will be difficult to understand the early 21st century without reading this book!

Trenchant insight into the Bosnian crisis

Unlike other accounts of the recent wars in the Balkans, Michael Sells' book does not merely chronicle the events that led to the catastrophe. The value of this fine work lies in the author's ability to present the underlying ideas, cultural constructs and religious passions that have flamed the genocide in Bosnia. The author focuses mostly on the Serb-Orthodox construct of Christoslavism, but also shows how the Western prejudices against the region have allowed genocide to occur in Europe at the end of the twentieth century. Resting on well-documented research (over fifty pages of footnotes plus appendices), it is an erudite and passionate argument for kindness and humanity towards those less fortunate than us.

Religion as a Catalyst for War

Michael Sells has written an important book that ranges the history of Bosnia from the days of the Ottoman invasion leading to the war that tore apart the Balkans. Few people have read Sells' book, but it is intensely readable and is instrumental in anyone's comprehension of what really caused the carnage of the Balkan War. He acknowledges the complexity of the region, and does not pretend to portray a comprehensive view of the war from a purely objective stance. Those who pretend to be objective, he says, are naive at best. He therefore limits his explanation of the war through the lens of religion, and the role it played as a catalyst to the outbreak of hostilities. If you cannot spend time in Bosnia, talking to the people there, seeing the mass graves that litter the countryside-- reading this book is a good beginning in developing a basic understanding of what occured there and why.
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