July 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Bosnian men by Serb forces in the town of Srebrenica, which was then a designated United Nations safe haven. It sparked a huge amount of international outrage and could be identified as one of the reasons why NATO eventually stepped up their strategic air strikes.
Love Thy Neighbour is about as ironic a book title as you will find, particularly when you consider what lies between the pages. Of course there have been hundreds of books and screenplays written about the conflict in Bosnia. Just about every reporter and cameraman who was there has written something about there experiences. Peter Maas was one such journalist who brings together a fairly accurate account of the war in Bosnia.
The war had been raging in various parts of the region since 1991, and many atrocities where perpetrated by all sides long before the now infamous Srebrenica incident. Maas gives a good description of the geographical layout of the conflict. The western world has rarely understood the complexities of Balkan life. A fusion of Muslims, Croats and Serbs made up the country of Bosnia, and lived in a type of undulating harmony, with various flashpoints over the years.
When ethnic tensions boiled over on 1991, the killing and carnage began, and as Peter Maas has used the term neighbour loosely, the reality was that real neighbours who had lived side by side for years, actually turned on each other in a wave of vengeance.
Maas creates his story by interlinking a number of personal anecdotes as told by some of the very interesting people he encounters, as well as his own narration and observations. The gang rapes, executions and random killings by the ever watchful snipers all add to the horror that unfolds in a book with many shocking and revolting revelations.