Recalling One of Europe's Darkest Hours, EIBF 2012, Review

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Edinburgh International Book Festival
Janine di Giovanni and Ed Vulliamy with Bidisha
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Bidisha introduced Ed Vulliamy, an author who has written for The Guardian and Amnesty International, whose recent book, "The War is Dead, Long Live the War" has been written to highlight the Bosnian war and the break up of the former Yugoslavia.  

She also introduced Janine di Giovanni, also an experienced reporter, whose new book, "Ghosts by Daylight" gives a description of married life in the country after the war.   The two authors said that they had met some twenty years ago when covering the Bosnian war and it had been a turning point in both their lives.

Ed Vulliamy commented that for many the war never ends, perhaps no war ever really ends for those involved, the scars remain and the shattered lives cannot be rebuilt easily, even with new housing and facilities.

The memories haunt individuals and are strong and clear, the mass killings, the concentration camps, the abuse of women and the sheer wanton destruction of the infrastructure of the country.

For Janine di Giovanni, she felt that the way war news was now reported has changed dramatically over the years.   Journalism is in real time with twenty four hour coverage of every incident.   While this gives a voice to people who would not normally have a voice, it can tend to exclude the more costly, yet more experienced journalists, as young graduates are desperate to become "war correspondents"  because they see this as being glamorous. 

Both speakers agreed that war journalism was simply not glamorous in any way and the inexperienced reporters were often placing themselves at risk.

Both speakers were extremely critical of the UN peacekeeping forces, who too often exploited the situation for their own ends.   Obviously some nations provided good peacekeepers, but both had seen really bad incidents which had horrified them.

I must say, however, that one was left wondering why they had not reported these abuses and this was an area that they did not cover.   However, one was enormously impressed by the sheer scope of their experience of many conflicts and all that they has seen and themselves suffered.