Blood and Vengeance

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Chuck Sudetic reported on the breakup of Yugoslavia and on the war in Bosnia for the NEW YORK TIMES from 1990 to 1995. BLOOD AND VENGEANCE: ONE FAMILY’S STORY OF THE WAR IN BOSNIA has been published with powerful endorsements from other acclaimed writers on the war, including David Rieff and Brian Hall. A student of Slavic languages at Ohio State and Indiana universities, and a Fulbright scholar in Yugoslavia in 1984-1985, Sudetic provides a depth of learning and a first-hand immersion in his subject that surpasses the qualifications and experience of his fellow journalists.

What also makes Sudetic’s account so authoritative and riveting is his weaving of history with contemporary lives—specifically with the trials of one Muslim family, the Celiks, living in the remote mountain village of Kupusovici. Through their suffering, he provides the best portrayal so far of the terrible tragedy that occurred in the “safe area” of Srebenica.

Sudetic is a master at clearly explaining complex events and historical patterns. Readers wary of keeping straight strange names, foreign places, and conflicting versions of events can rely on Sudetic’s sure grip of both the region and of his story. He aids the reader as well with a map, a Celik family tree, and a very detailed section identifying all the main characters in the narrative.

Unlike many journalists, Sudetic has a fine sense of scholarship and includes not only detailed notes but a comprehensive bibliography. There is perhaps no better single source on the sweep of Balkan history from the Serb defeat at Kosovo in 1389 to events that have seared contemporary Europe and provided a cautionary tale for the world.