Book Review - Not My Turn to Die
Published in Teaching Sociology, 2010, 38(1)
Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia is "straightforward, easy to read, and very intriguing. Most of my students finish the book within two days. The first-person account gives the students a more concrete understanding of the social construction of ethnicity. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in adding a global perspective to undergraduate teaching on race and ethnicity."
My students are "inspired by Heleta's personal transformation from an angry teenager seeking revenge to a bright scholar actively seeking resolution to global conflicts. Because the conflicts in Yugoslavia occurred relatively recently, many of my students have vivid memories of media reports on the subject. The book and the author's amazing transformation provoke students to consider what the United States could do to help resolve ethnic conflicts around the world and, more important, what students can do as individuals to help make a difference."
"Another strength of this book is that it provides a very unique perspective on Yugoslavian ethnic conflicts. Reports on the gruesome genocide committed by Serbs against Muslims are widespread. However, we also need to be reminded that horrible things happened not only to Muslims but also across all ethnic lines. The experiences of the Heleta family demonstrate that the destructive power of ethnic nationalism has the potential to affect all.""Meanwhile, this book is not solely about ethnic conflicts or one ethnic group persecuting another. Throughout the book, the author gives an honest account of the positive side of the human relationship. Many of the Heleta family's Muslim friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers reached out to them, helping with food and shelter, and even saved their lives. These citizens' courageous acts illustrate that human beings are indeed able to act humanely and rationally during times of political propaganda and manipulation of a racial-ethnic divide."
Note: This is only a part of the review, published here with the permission of the author.
For more info about the book, visit Savo Heleta's website: www.savoheleta.com