David Rieff is the author of eight previous books, including Swimming in a Sea of Death, At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis; and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. He lives in New York City.
Instead of looking back at the root causes of the current upheaval in the Balkans, Rieff (The Exile, LJ 7/93) looks ahead to the worldwide consequences of the West's failure to act decisively in the crisis.
The Advocate Rieff writes with a knowledge so thorough, an
intelligence so keen, a passion so scalding, and a morality so
vigorous, that one cannot come away from reading this without
despair for mankind.
Anthony Lewis The New Republic An epitaph for Bosnia, or for us. I do not think anyone should be able to read this book without pain and anger.
Rieff (Going to Miami) ``resolved to write as frankly incendiary a narrative as I could of my journeys to the slaughterhouse that the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina became in the spring of 1992.'' He found a society with multicultural ideals worth preserving and concluded that the great powers had a moral obligation to defend Bosnian independence: ``It should have been the West's cause.'' Rieff describes the terror tactics employed by the Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian Muslims and makes the chilling observation that Serb soldiers are better outfitted for killing civilians than for engaging enemy forces on a battlefield. He acknowledges that humanitarian relief efforts have been as heroic as any in modern history but argues that, more than food, medicine and clothing, military intervention is needed. He reviews Washington's prevaricating Bosnia policy and the toothless resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, referring to the U.N. ``peacekeepers'' as handmaidens of genocide for standing idly by as a nation is murdered. The resonating attitude of this brief report is despair. Gone, says Rieff, is ``the dream that the world has a conscience; the dream that Europe is a civilized place; the dream that there is justice for the weak as well as for the strong.'' (Mar.)