From Bosnia to Ukraine and Beyond
Published by: New Europe Books
Imprint: New Europe Books
288 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, full-page color photographs
- Published: November 2023
In 2010, Sarajevo native Jasminko Halilovic began following through on a dream: collecting as many short recollections from as many people as possible who were children during the Bosnian War, which from 1992 to 1995 claimed the lives of 101,000 people amid the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and changed Sarajevo's reputation from a onetime WInter Olympics paradise to a city under siege. The result: a unique, visually engaging, and accessible book of 1,100 quotations by adults looking back on their childhoods in war. Halilovic collected the memories online, using the project's website and social media.
The book, War Childhood, was crowd-funded and published in Bosnian in Sarajevo, and in English translation for sale at the museum of the same name--the War Childhood Museum--that Halilovic founded in his native city in January 2017.
The book has three parts. The first comprises introductory texts on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, the siege of Sarajevo, and the project. The second, main section is a mosaic of the short recollections gathered during implementation of the project. The third section has a visual focus, bringing together keepsakes: photographs, drawings, diary entries, stories, and letters.
Unique in having been cocreated by 1,100 people, this book also takes a specific approach to the presentation of their memories. The memories collected in the book are presented symmetrically. They are grouped both by theme and by emotion. Some entries from the different groups are mixed, but they are distributed in accord with a precisely calculated algorithm. In this way, a balance is struck between emotion and theme.
Supplemented since its original, Sarajevo publication with material from the 2022 Ukraine War, War Childhood is for anyone seeking an accessible, ultimately hopeful book on the effects of war on children--and, moreover, it is an indispensable reference for researchers and students in the fields of conflict studies and peacebuilding, history, childhood and adolescence, psychology and trauma, Eastern European studies, and mental health.
"Jasminko Halilović’s War Childhood is not only a compendium of the most intimate details of one of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies, but also a crucial testament to the indomitability of life." -Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
"War Childhood is a remarkable work. Harrowing and heartening in equal measure, it is a reminder that, even in the direst of circumstances, children will find small, sustaining joys. With this compendium, Halilović has made a gripping, humane, and invaluable contribution to the field of peace and conflict studies." -Dan Sheehan, author of Restless Souls
“The testimonies, memories, snippets, drawings and photographs collected in War Childhood transport us to a world no child should ever experience. It is a place of lost innocence, tragedy and pain; but this book is also a testament to the resilience, humour, imagination and play that despite the horror of war trying to quash it, still manages to shine. These young words and memories are filled with tragedy, the incredibly capacity to adapt to difficult circumstances – and hope – but above all the terrible truth of what it means to be a child of war.” -Zlata Filipović, author of Zlata’s Diary
“War Childhood is an unique book that tells the story of Bosnia’s war through the eyes of its children and in an imaginative way – short messages that are like emotional arrows from a war zone. The fighting ended nearly 20 years ago but these messages, and this book, are timeless in their wisdom and passion and, occasionally, their wry humor. What they say – what this book says – is precious and smart and should be read by everyone.” -Peter Maass, author of Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War