My rating: 4 of 5 stars Anthony Loyd goes to the war in the former Yugoslavia as an observer – well, let’s be honest, a tourist – and then gradually succumbs to the fascination, tinged with shame, of observing something surreal, dangerous, and yet so central to Europe. The complex and cruel war between Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Muslims and other overlapping and changing factions was a gruesome continuation of centuries of internecine fighting that was only temporarily halted by the Tito regime – close to a quarter million people dead, yet curiously disregarded by the European press.
Loyd gradually becomes a war correspondent, seemingly more for financial reasons – and to have a proper reason to be where he was – than because of an interest in a career. He turns out to be good at it, yet maintains his distance, and his heroin addiction. In the end you are left with painfully memorable descriptions of individual and mass tragedies – and you still don’t know much about the person doing the reporting.