My War Criminal
An investigation into the nature of violence, terror, and trauma through conversations with a notorious war criminal by Jessica Stern, one of the world's foremost experts on terrorism.Between October 2014 and November 2016, global terrorism expert Jessica Stern held a series of conversations in a prison cell in The Hague with Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb former politician who had been indicted for genocide and other war crimes during the Bosnian War and who became an inspiration for white nationalists. Though Stern was used to interviewing terrorists in the field in an effort to understand their hidden motives, the conversations she had with Karadzic would profoundly alter her understanding of the mechanics of fear, the motivations of violence, and the psychology of those who perpetrate mass atrocities at a state level and who—like the terrorists she had previously studied—target noncombatants, in violation of ethical norms and international law.How do leaders persuade ordinary people to kill their neighbors? What is the “ecosystem” that creates and nurtures genocidal leaders? Could anything about their personal histories, personalities, or exposure to historical trauma shed light on the formation of a war criminal’s identity in opposition to a targeted Other?In My War Criminal, Jessica Stern brings to bear her incisive analysis and her own deeply considered reactions to her interactions with Karadzic, a brilliant and often shockingly charming psychiatrist and poet who spent twelve years in hiding, disguising himself as an energy healer, while also offering a deeply insightful and sometimes chilling account of the complex and even seductive powers of a magnetic leader—and what can happen when you spend many, many hours with that person. 

My War Criminal Details

TitleMy War Criminal
Author
ReleaseJan 28th, 2020
PublisherEcco
ISBN-139780062971173
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Crime, True Crime, War, Historical, European History

My War Criminal Review

  • Panasko
    January 1, 1970
    Usually I do not write reviews, especially of books I will never read. Reason I am writing this is that some excerpts from NYT written by author I find most disturbing. This book is written about Radovan Karadźić, Bosnian Serbs warlord and a man convicted of genocide, first time in Europe since WWII. Even tough the main protagonist of her book is convicted of genocide, in whole book you do not hear victims point of view, but at the end the Author bought this monsters statement and conclude that Usually I do not write reviews, especially of books I will never read. Reason I am writing this is that some excerpts from NYT written by author I find most disturbing. This book is written about Radovan Karadźić, Bosnian Serbs warlord and a man convicted of genocide, first time in Europe since WWII. Even tough the main protagonist of her book is convicted of genocide, in whole book you do not hear victims point of view, but at the end the Author bought this monsters statement and conclude that he believed his people were threatened which was grotesque excuse. She even wrote "opening herself up to Karadzic’s odious insistence that he and his fellow Serbian nationalists did “perceive a real threat” before beginning their campaign of extermination".Sound like genocide apologist to me. Definitely not a book I will read and/or buying.
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  • Bronwyn
    January 1, 1970
    Edit 1/31/20: Morbid curiosity got the best of me, so I listened to the audiobook. I've since edited my review to reflect that. Edit 1/23/20: This damning review from the NYT confirms my worst fears. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/bo...I don't think I can read this, as it centers the perpetrator as opposed to the victims. On the "hell no" shelf it goes. Initially, I was extremely mislead by a blurb I read about this book. I had assumed that it would be a biography of Karadzic that combined Edit 1/31/20: Morbid curiosity got the best of me, so I listened to the audiobook. I've since edited my review to reflect that. Edit 1/23/20: This damning review from the NYT confirms my worst fears. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/bo...I don't think I can read this, as it centers the perpetrator as opposed to the victims. On the "hell no" shelf it goes. Initially, I was extremely mislead by a blurb I read about this book. I had assumed that it would be a biography of Karadzic that combined his own delusional perception of his life and actions with fact-checking and interviews with others who knew him, as well as his victims. Apparently, the author chooses to focus more on how RK makes her feel during their interviews (the NYT piece related an instance when RK "performed" some of his "mystical healing" on her and talked about how soft his hands were, "the hands of a gentleman"--actual line from the book--and that's just the tip of the iceberg of gross and bizarre fetishization of this evil man). Countless survivors of the Bosnian war have spoken out about how such an overly romantic portrayal of RK, a man directly responsible for genocide is not only offensive to them but also contributes to an overall culture of denial that surrounds this genocide and the crimes committed during this war specifically (Peter Handke's Nobel is another recent example of this phenomenon). Having read/listened to more of this, I can confirm that at times, there's a "50 Shades of Grey" vibe going on with the way she writes about her interactions with RK. No doubt RK is a manipulative piece of shit (aside from being a literal convicted war criminal), but the author fell right into his trap and doesn't seem to realize it. And worse, she seems to enjoy it. Aside from the romantic portrayal of Karadzic, essentially allowing him to tell his version of events with little to no fact-checking or correction of his delusions from the author, the author herself frequently engages to what amounts to genocide denial--not out and out denial of the facts, but a type of "questioning" or "both sides-ism" that plants the seeds of doubt among her intended and probably clueless (at least about BiH) audience. Read Robert Donia's book "Radovan Karadzic, Architect of the Bosnian Genocide" if you want a book about RK without the bizarre sensationalism/fetishism and genocide denial.
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  • Alisson F.w. Burgher
    January 1, 1970
    Dissapointed.I love to read about loose minds of persons from the now and past. About war criminals/convicts/killers. If you would ask me why? The answer is simple:They all have something twisted in their mind in a sick way. This book shows a completely different view on a war criminal:He gave orders that killed and slaughtered lots of people, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE.The Serbs were attacked first. The Serbs think they are becoming a minority. The Serbs think Yugoslavia limited them from becoming the Dissapointed.I love to read about loose minds of persons from the now and past. About war criminals/convicts/killers. If you would ask me why? The answer is simple:They all have something twisted in their mind in a sick way. This book shows a completely different view on a war criminal:He gave orders that killed and slaughtered lots of people, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE.The Serbs were attacked first. The Serbs think they are becoming a minority. The Serbs think Yugoslavia limited them from becoming the superior nation they are.Kind of reminds me to the Germans from 1918 and their Dolchstoß legende:We could have won the war, we were the strongest. We did not lost, the enemy won becuase we got tricked. We all know what that thought led to (and to which person).There is no forgiveness for killing (fellow) human beings. There is no forgiveness for taking rights into your own hands. There is no explanation why Mladic, Karadzic, Milosevic, Amin, Hussein, Stalin or Hitler did what they did.They are sick and twisted. Do not humanize them, or you will humanize modern lonewolfs for killing your own close ones. Simply because they ought their actions lawfull:The biggest jew/muslim killer was also a human.
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  • Tea Sefer
    January 1, 1970
    I really gave this book a shot after all the uproar over the NY Times article about it, but it is absolutely offensive. Stern idolizes Karadzic - a convicted war criminal, and continuously explains how mesmerized she is by his demeanor and stature. She "wants an A" from him - actual language she uses. She spent 48 hours interviewing Karadzic which was enough time for her to learn and regurgitate genocide denial propaganda throughout the book. My dad was interned in a concentration camp in I really gave this book a shot after all the uproar over the NY Times article about it, but it is absolutely offensive. Stern idolizes Karadzic - a convicted war criminal, and continuously explains how mesmerized she is by his demeanor and stature. She "wants an A" from him - actual language she uses. She spent 48 hours interviewing Karadzic which was enough time for her to learn and regurgitate genocide denial propaganda throughout the book. My dad was interned in a concentration camp in Bosanski Novi for a lot longer than 48 hours and this supposed "insight" into a war criminal's mind is nothing more than fodder for white supremacists and fascists.There is much better writing out there about the Bosnian Genocide and Karadzic and I recommend you spend your time reading about survivors' stories instead of a genocide sympathizer take from an academic.
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  • Mac
    January 1, 1970
    Wish I could do half stars. 3 is too much, 2 is too many. Just wasn't great.
  • Janet Gordon
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting look at a war criminal.
  • Jeff Samuelson
    January 1, 1970
    Well balanced and worth a read.
  • Walter Neto
    January 1, 1970
    I'll probably need to read the bible or something else after...
  • Keeley
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a Goodreads GiveawayI thought this book was good. I wasn’t a huge fan of the format (5-10 pages of notes after every chapter) but the content was interesting.
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