book review: my war gone by, i miss it so

Holly was reading Anthony Loyd’s book My War Gone By, I Miss it So while we travelled through Sichuan and passed it on to me after she finished. It’s a story about journalism in the Bosnian war from the mid-90s, a war I knew practically nothing about. When I say story, I mean it is his factual, emotional account of covering the war. And about heroin.

So there’s a lot going on. A lot of characters in fragmentary glimpses. A lot of horrible things that soldiers do to people. Loyd has his point of view in the book (I don’t know what his filed stories at the time would read like), his allies and who’re good soldiers and who’re murderous bastards. I have a touch of a “Hey, what about the guys you’re villainizing here” but he would say that’s because I wasn’t there and didn’t see the HVO send Muslim prisoners back to their lines remotely wired with landmines and so I don’t get to say anything.

Loyd talks a lot about how he needed to be on the front lines, right in the action, to see things for himself, which is an instinct I recognize in me (though I’m obviously too timid a person to be able to translate that into any sort of effective journalism myself). But he talks about growing up in a military family, about having respect for soldiers, about wanting to be one himself, and that I don’t understand.

But whatever, that’s not the point of the book. The point is to talk about war and the limited point of view and limited actions a person gets to take in the face of all these events.

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