With Their Backs to the World

With Their Backs to the World : Portraits from Serbia

3.79 (578 ratings by Goodreads)
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From beloved international reporter Asne 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 134.6 x 200.7 x 25.4mm | 272.16g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Translation
  • 0465076025
  • 9780465076024
  • 357,014

Review quote

"This book is part travelogue and part social and political document, giving voice to Serbs...a vivid and vital image of life in the country during and after its civil war."show more

About Asne Seierstad

Asne Seierstad has reported from such war-torn regions as Chechnya, China, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. She has received numerous awards for her journalism. She is the author of A Hundred and One Days as well as The Bookseller of Kabul, an international bestseller that has been translated into twenty-six languages. Seierstad makes her home in Norway and travels frequently to the United States.show more

Review Text

An intrepid Norwegian journalist follows the varied fortunes of Serbs-ranging from celebrities to refugees-during and after the reign of Slobodan Milosevic.Seierstad has trod the bloody ground of Afghanistan (The Bookseller of Kabul, 2003) and Iraq (A Hundred and One Days, 2005) and here recounts her experiences in Serbia between 1999 and 2004. She tells the stories of 13 individuals and one family, virtually all of whom share two beliefs: The Serbs committed no war crimes or "ethnic cleansing"; and the United States is the cause of all their troubles. Says a Milosevic protege: "America is the source of all wickedness in the world." To Seierstad's credit, she does not accept these assertions silently; rather, she prompts her sources to elaborate and to justify. Most merely repeat what they've seen on government television-or rumors they've heard from frustrated friends. Seierstad interviewed people who varied widely on just about every human dimension-income, education, sophistication, political affiliation, celebrity. Among the latter were some media personalities, a novelist (Ana Rodic, whose Roots was a Serbian bestseller) and rock musician Antonio Pusic, who goes by "Rambo Amadeus" and describes his music as "acid-horror-funk." Seierstad went boating with him and added some tracks to one of his CDs. Among the many charms of the author's work is that her Serb contacts are all invariably glad to see her, grateful for her attention, eager to tell their stories. (Some even try to find her a husband.) Perhaps the most touching story is that of a family from Kosovo now living in a refugee center in southern Serbia. When the Kosovo Albanians arrived, bent on ethnic vengeance, the family fled, leaving behind virtually all they had-except their photo albums and their hope.Although the during-and-after-Milosevic format in each segment grows tiresome, Seirestad's educated eye sees all that's important, and her compassionate heart beats in tandem with some poorly understood, deeply afflicted people. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

578 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 22% (130)
4 41% (236)
3 30% (176)
2 6% (33)
1 1% (3)
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