This memoir recounts the wartime experiences of Elvir Kulin, a young Bosnia Muslim from Sarajevo who was swept up by the Bosnian War of 1992-96, first as a civilian living under siege in his home city, and then as a soldier in the Bosnia army. This autobiography tells his story, focusing on the wartime experiences, although with enough background material to give us a good idea of his life before and after the conflict.
We start with an inside view of the descent into civil war in Bosnia, the speed with which it happened and the general disbelief that preceded the actual war, when many people were unwilling to believe that their neighbours could turn so violently against them. Elvir was a civilian during this phase of the war, and during the first period of the actual fighting, when the Yugoslavian Army was directly involved, and when the local Serbian forces took over.
He was drafted into the army in 1993, and took part in the defensive battles fought around Sarajevo, as well as an offensive designed to restore the only land-link with the outside world. During most of this time Elvir was fighting alongside his twin brother, even after Elvir was forced to transfer to an Invalid unit. What most stands out here is the peculiar nature of fighting so close to home - we are more familiar with soldiers fighting on distant fields, but here Elvir was able to visit home and to help provide food for his family, although even that was a dangerous activity, using a road that was often shelled.
Elvir's tone is generally neutral. There are of course tales of atrocities committed by the Serbs and Croatians in Bosnia, which might be taken as being biased if they had not since been backed up by war crime trials.
This is a very readable memoir and a useful contribution to our understanding of the Bosnian War, as seen from within the long siege of Sarajevo.
A Brief History of Yugoslavia
1 - Growing up in Bosnia
2 - Yugoslavia's Civil War Begins
3 - The War Comes to Bosnia
4 - The Shelling Begins
5 - The Chetniks Take Over
6 - We Join the Army
Maps, Photographs and Elvir Kulin's Army Document
7 - We Recapture Mount Igman
8 - We Join the Invalid Unit
9 - The Siege Continues
10 - We Push Back the Chetniks
11 - The War Ends
Epilogue - Life after the War
Author: Elvir Kulin