Mak travels to Sarajevo shortly after the fourth Yugoslav war. The fragmented region is still in recovery from the conflict. Many of the city’s structures are damaged or in ruin due to the war and the city is now filled with international peacekeepers and relief workers. Mak writes, “of the 400,000 inhabitants of Sarajevo, 11,000 were killed during the siege, including more than 1,100 children” (807). Now, everything is “standing still” as peace slowly returns to the now independent Bosnia.
While Sarajevo suffered immensely, much destruction also took place in the villages surrounding the city. In the town of Mostar, Mak takes note of “one scorched and blasted housing block after the other” and also mentions the destruction of a world famous bridge from the sixteenth century. For local Esad Mavric, it was an attempt to destroy what had been built by rival ethnicities.
What had once been a peaceful and united nation called Yugoslavia, violently broke out into a series of wars with rivalries divided between ethnicity. For Hrvoje Batinic, each side shares responsibility for devastating the country, “We lost everything we were good at, and we kept everything that was bad” (806). What now worries Batinic is the next generation of Bosnians. His generation has ruined the country for their children. He states, “When our children grow up…there’s a great chance they’ll be even more fanatical that the people who started this war” (806).