This is not actually a new book but a revised and updated edition of the same which was originally released in 1995 (and revised in 1996). It has been released to mark the 20th
anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities.
The original book was written during the period covered by the book during the Bosnian conflict of 92-95 and covers Martinís experiences there with a far amount of divergence along the way. It is illustrated with a variety of photos mainly showing the author at work. Martin Bell
was a BBC TV war reporter for many years and covered wars all across the world, famously wearing a white suit whilst doing so and collecting a fragment of mortar shell in the process of filming in Bosnia. He did his National Service in the late 50ís in the Suffolk Regiment and is still proud of his affiliation to them. His affection feelings towards British soldiers comes through consistently in the book.
In Harmís Way is not a history book of the conflict, in fact there is little background given to the start of the war, and within each chapter there can be a bit of jumping back and forth chronologically. This is probably explained that when written the events would have been very fresh in the minds of readers. Now however, trying to recall the sequences of the various Balkan conflicts around that time is not so clear (even to a Cold War Warrior who was on 48 hours notice to deploy there at one point).
I think one aspect of the book that immediately hits you is the number of the media who were wounded and killed during this conflict. This is explained as a relatively new thing as the past they were mainly protected from harm. However the indiscriminatory nature of this war did away with that coupled with the desire for more and more reports direct from the front line.
Martin holds back no punches when he describes how he feels about the UN involvement particularly how ineffective it was as a peacekeeper force, failing to maintain safe zones and concentrating almost on just ensuring aid conveys got through so that the civilians could be fed when they were killed! He quite succinctly describes the failings around multiple nationalities working together as a joint force when they are responding to both local commands and to their own governments back home.
Colonel Bob Stewart obviously made a huge impression on the author during his time in Bosnia together with the Cheshires. He devotes a chapter to him and defends him against the criticism he received at the time. He again spends time describing some of the elements around various commanders such as Generals Rose and Smith which led to their various trials and tribulations whilst trying to maintain peace, or a least confine the fighting.
I enjoyed the book, it makes you think about what the actual role of the UN is and what part nations should play in protecting the civilians of others. Are the lives of a few of our soldiers worth many civilians from somewhere else? It is a constant question that arises even now. (and I suspect may be an ulterior motive behind the re-release of the book) One gets the impression that Martin Bell
definitely believes that the sacrifices of the armed services are made for good causes and that it should continue as such.
As such, perhaps Mr Bell is trying to make a point about such locations as Afghanistan and Syria.
An enjoyable read, not dated at all, I'd give it 4 Mr Mushroomheads.
Fang_Farrier In Harmís Way
, Bosnia: A War Reporterís Story. Martin Bell
published by Icon Books Click here to buy from Amazon