With Their Backs to the World: Portraits from Serbia

With Their Backs to the World Portraits from Serbia From beloved international reporter sne Seierstad comes a remarkable exploration of the lives of ordinary Serbs under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic during the dramatic events leading up to his fall

From beloved international reporter sne Seierstad comes a remarkable exploration of the lives of ordinary Serbs under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic during the dramatic events leading up to his fall, and finally in the troubled years that have followed Seierstad traveled extensively through Serbia between 1999 and 2004, following the lives of people from across the polFrom beloved international reporter sne Seierstad comes a remarkable exploration of the lives of ordinary Serbs under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic during the dramatic events leading up to his fall, and finally in the troubled years that have followed Seierstad traveled extensively through Serbia between 1999 and 2004, following the lives of people from across the political spectrum Her moving and perceptive account follows nationalists, Titoists, Yugonostalgics, rock stars, fugitives, and poets Seierstad brings her acclaimed attention to detail to bear on the lives of those whom she encounters in With Their Backs to the World, as she creates a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation made up of so many different and often conflicting hopes, dreams, and points of view.

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With Their Backs to the World: Portraits from Serbia

  1. Asne Seierstad has received numerous awards for her journaism and has reported from such war torn regions as Chchnya, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq She is fluent in five languages and lives in Norway.

657 Reply to “With Their Backs to the World: Portraits from Serbia”

  1. This book contains a series of portraits of people in Serbia, collected over three visits between 1999 and 2004 The protagonists including an elderly farming countryman, a priest, an emigree and a rock star It paints a sad picture of a nation living on past possibly fictional glories, floundering after the loss of strong leadership, and unable to get over the recent atrocities to start rebuilding a healthy society I happened to hear a short news excerpt yesterday about the fact that Belgium has [...]

  2. I enjoyed meeting all of the diverse people in Seirstad s book One interview in particular gave me pause An older couple tells Seirstad that they understand all about the political situation in their country because they ve heard about it on TV Milosevic controlled TV It made me think even about how much our news here is filtered and spun Who knows what s really happening

  3. Being a croatian national, I could understand the social aspect of characters as many of them would perfectly fit into society in Croatia I can only wonder what would this people have to say today, with some big changes that happen since the book was written.

  4. A great book in it s concept, before and after Exploring people s lives both under Milosevic and some years after his fall a recurring theme is evident as a nation the Serbs are ordinary people trying to survive but locked into a system of backward looking Things were better.under Milosevic, Milosevic,.a hundred years ago,.ter Milosevic The Serbs interviewed seem to have an ingrained idea of all the injustices borne only by the Serb people A book perhaps to be read in only a couple of sittings t [...]

  5. You d be forgiven for thinking that Serbia is a bad country, no thanks to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s You ve heard of Serbian atrocities e.g Dubrovnik being attacked, Sarajevo under siege and the continued rocky relationship the country has with its breakaway region of Kosovo But how much truth is there really, to such assertions To some extent, this book aims to dispel these notions It follows a number of people before, during and after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic You are acquainted with [...]

  6. Very interesting book, a master piece portraying Serbs lives before, within and after the Serbs revolution By presenting different characters, Asne succeeded in presenting a glance about a people whom were shocked in their believes and left clueless against the world I used to believe and continue to believe that what Serbs did in Muslims of Bosnia was a crime and a massacre by all means simply Ethnic cleansing, yet, after reading this book I believe that I learned a lot about what people are dr [...]

  7. I was pretty sceptical about this book to begin with, but I have to say Seierstad does a wonderful job of going beyond the general and theoretical It is a very depressing book, even so since I ve been to Serbia twice and Kosovo once and I feel like I ve actually met each of them.

  8. Asne explores Serbian views of the conflict in former Yugoslavia, with good reasons, the Serbs think the world is against them.

  9. With Their Backs to the World Portraits from Serbia was the only one of Norwegian author Asne Seierstad s works of extended journalism which I had outstanding I have found her work insightful and far reaching in the past, and I admire the way in which she tries to present as many viewpoints as she possibly can The real triumph for me is Seierstad s newest publication, One of Us, which deals with Anders Breivik, who carried out atrocious terror attacks in Norway in 2011 I felt that it would be a [...]

  10. What I like about Asne books is the lack of judgement It s not a history book, it s not about dry facts It s about people s perception of events, their effects on lives The subtitle is Portraits from Serbia , not The history of Balcan wars You can find it in any decent history book But what you will never find is why people acted the way they were This book will not provide all answers but only a small view through a cracked door What is fascinating is that during the few years nothing really ch [...]

  11. Norwegian writer Asne Seierstad s profiles of 14 Serbs she spent time with from 2000 to 2004 is not only a fascinating view into a country in the aftermath of war It s also potentially very instructive for those of us living in the USA at this peculiar historical moment She manages to capture the experiences of people from all walks of life, at all income levels, and with 360 degrees of opinons about Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian culpability for the wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia, and what kind [...]

  12. This book provides many interesting perspectives about the recent history of Serbia The book consists of fourteen chapters, each relating the time the author spent with a different Serbian individual or family She meets a wide range of people, including a convicted war criminal s wife, higher up members of Slobodan Milosevic s party, leaders of the opposition, refugees who fled Kososvo, a rock star, and artists The meetings occur right before Milosevic s fall from power and continue for a few ye [...]

  13. This is a collection of short portraits of a variety of Serbian people, describing their lives before, during, and after the fall of Milosevic It wasn t a bad book, but it was too focused on the individuals lives at the expense of a broader understanding of Serbia and its condition Having just finished reading Maximum City a beautiful book about Mumbai highly recommended , I found myself craving that same complex, broader description of place, the vibe, the mentality of a people This book is not [...]

  14. Starting out, I understood little about Serbia and the conflicts that were so destructive in the 90 s Having read Seierstad s book, I almost feel that I ve visited the area and talked to the people myself Her approach is so human and so humane that she seems able to get inside the skins of leaders and peasants, business people and displaced families Compassionate without being sappy, she strikes a balance between all the different factions that helps us to see the human face of the suffering and [...]

  15. I m really fascinated by this region I ve read a few books now in an attempt to really nail down an understanding of what happened during the conflict and why Although this was an excellent book, I still don t entirely understand the nature of the divisions between each group though it s getting a bit clearer Perhaps I m just slow my brain feels like mush these days , but I don t think I ll really be able to get it until I visit and spend some time there Another thing that struck me is how dicta [...]

  16. This book describes the conditions in the Balkan countries from about 1990 2004 These were the years of rule under Milosevic I liked the author s writing style The book was educational in the sense that I did not know much about the history, culture, and beliefs of the peoples of the Balkan countries It was a somber sometimes depressing account of the author s interviews with the people in this war torn impoverished area It ended on a somewhat upbeat note Milosevic was overthrrown and the people [...]

  17. The author has shown her versatility by adopting a different approach to the one she took in her first book The Bookseller of Kabul I appreciated the different lenses on this same situation from the protestor to the supporter, the fanatic to the fatalistic all made for an interesting perspective on what must have been a very debilitating period to have had to live through Certainly left me feeling I must seek out of her work in due course something I don t always feel with this genre of writing [...]

  18. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the social, political and personal turmoil that took place both before and after the fall of Milosevic in Serbia This book gives an insight into the difficulty of declaring a geographic area Yugoslavia a unified country when the various groups living in that area have conflicting values, beliefs and views of what constitutes a country Read the other excellent reviews for additional insight into this book I liked this book even better her b [...]

  19. The book interviews people from different backgrounds and with different political ideas and tries to look at the conflict from their point of view.As soon as I saw the part about Serbs don t know democracy, the only way to govern them is with an iron fist, I thought just like some Egyptians opinion But really the whole book could have well been written in Egypt about Egyptians after the revolution Just a few changes, but it s basically the same It just got me thinking how similar we actually ar [...]

  20. I didn t finish this book, mostly due to being very busy It was on loan from another library, which made it harder I had a hard time getting into the book too I did get to see another side to the war in the late 90s I remember following it in J School and the war trials against Milosevic The book is basically about Seierstad writing the book and doing her interviews I will hopefully one day finish it I got to page 128.

  21. This book is about a Norwegian journalist s interactions with various Serbians over a few years Each chapter is about a different person, and she has done a nice job of varying the types of people she interviews Seierstad also wrote The Bookseller of Kabul and A Hundred and One Days about Iraq around the time of American troops arrival in Baghdad and the days following I am enjoying this nonfiction work so far, but Bookseller is still my favorite of her work.

  22. A good perspective on what people in Serbia were thinking and feeling after the wars of the 1990s Very little editorializing about a people that are so often painted as brutal, cruel, or just unreasonable Seierstad does well in choosing a selection of people and families from various areas and backgrounds, yet it s easy to see the common threads that run through almost everyone s mindsets Highly recommended.

  23. A decent book that concentrates on individuals in what became in many ways the most malignhed country in the world for a time.I like the fact that the author looks at the people of the country and not the leaders who have been represented in the media for us all to see.This is translated from the Norwegian original and I think it s inevitable that some of the nuances are lost because of that but it s an easy read that gives a good insight to Serbia during a very turbulent time.

  24. If you want to get a feel for Serbia and Serbs in general without wading through boring history books etc, read this It s a cross section of Serbian society and has a really humane approach Seierstad doesn t judge at least not much the people she writes about and you get the stories of those who have seen war, dissapointments, war, political instability, war and lowered expectations and living standards, which many of us have never had to deal with.

  25. I really enjoy Asne Seierstad s personal style of journalism, I think she has a wonderful knack of making me really feel connected to the subjects of her books.This was an interesting, suprising and emotional journey into a European country I really only knew about through depressing headlines.

  26. If you want to understand Serbia, and the mindset that remains there in the aftermath of war, this is an excellent place to start Seirstad chooses some subjects she has met and tells their stories at different times over a few years, how they suffer, learn, change and deal with life in a harsh, hard country.

  27. This book was interesting but dragged on a bit Some parts were compelling than others The format left me without any real take aways and resulted in a lack of flow It did give a sense of what life was like in Serbia between 1999 and 2004 It was, not surprisingly, a somewhat depressing read.

  28. A candid portrayal of Serbian lives in the Balkans It jumps around a bit and is not a beautifully interwoven as the Bookseller of Kabul Yet this jagged narrative gives a poignant perspective to the Serbs she interviews and their views over time of the horrors of war An excellent read, with an objective journalistic style that only heightens the reality.

  29. A good narrative of many regular citizens who have lived through the Balkan mess Not having a thorough background of the atrocities that have taken place in that part of the world, I was surprised to hear of the reverie projected Milosevic and Tito s way Very insightful.

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