Monday, July 17, 2006

Read: "My War gone by, I miss it so" by Anthony Lloyd

Read: My War gone by, I miss it so by Anthony Lloyd, 1999, 0871137690.

Pretty good book, I'm surprised I liked it enough to finish it. Lloyd went to Bosnia in 1993 as a war tourist. His cover was as a journalist - a journalist without an employer or any job experience. The book covers his experiences in Bosnia and Croatia, his heroin tripping returns to London, and a brief sojourn to the hell of Chechnya.

Lloyd likes flowery language and description. He doesn't go too over the top though. His philosophizing is based on what he has seen and what he has lived through, it's not guesswork.

Lloyd was an officer in the British Army in both Northern Ireland and Gulf War One and after bumming around the world for a bit he ended up taking a basic photojournalism class in London. Unsure of how to get to the war in Bosnia he met a Bosnian family in London and asked for language lessons. From there he ended up getting into Sarajevo and stayed with that family's remaining relatives. Eventually getting regular newspaper work, Lloyd traveled around Bosnia covering the Bosnian government's army (Muslim) and the Croatians. Lloyd has little nice things to say about the UN - although he held some of the "peacekeeper" soldiers in high regard - and it's impotence in Bosnia. His regard for the European powers who sat on the sidelines is no better.

Lloyd's coverage of the second Chechnyan War deserves it's own book. Except such a book would be too disturbing and depressing to finish. Lloyd was not in Chechnya long but the widespread, horrifying and numbing atrocities and murders of Bosnia were a world apart from the Russian artillery attacks on Grozny. At one point 30,000 artillery shells a day were hitting Grozny and it's suburbs as the Russians tried to take the Chechen capital back from the rebels. I have little sympanthy for Chechen fighters after the many terrorist acts committed by them, but the indiscriminate Russian shelling was no better.

This book just confirms my theory on war. That theory follows: When in a war zone the first thing you should do is immediately leave. If you cannot leave make sure that you leave. If for some reason your exit is blocked, leave anyway. If normal modes of transportation are unavailable, leave. If borders are blocked, leave. If you have spent your whole life in that one place and all your belongings, money, prestige, and security have been there forever, leave. Above all else, the first thing you must do when caught in a war zone, is leave.

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