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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Worlds Apart by Swanee Hunt

Title: Worlds Apart
Author: Swanee Hunt
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publish Date: September 6, 2011
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a politics or history lover.
  • You are interested in International Relations.
  • You're interested in how foreign relations decisions are made.
What's The Story?:

From "Worlds Apart tells of a well-meaning foreign policy establishment often deaf to the voices of everyday people. Its focus is the Bosnian War, but its implications extend to any situation that prompts the consideration of military intervention on humanitarian grounds. Ambassador Swanee Hunt served in Vienna during the Bosnian War and was intimately involved in American policy toward the Balkans. During her tenure as ambassador and after, she made scores of trips throughout Bosnia, and the rest of the former Yugoslavia, attempting to understand the costly delays in foreign military intervention. To that end, she had hundreds of conversations with a wide range of politicians, refugees, journalists, farmers, clergy, aid workers, diplomats, soldiers, and others. 

In Worlds Apart, Hunt’s eighty vignettes alternate between those living out the war and “the internationals” deciding whether or how to intervene. From these stories, most of which she herself witnessed, she draws lessons applicable to conflicts throughout the world. These lessons cannot be learned from afar, Hunt says, with insiders and outsiders working apart. Only by bridging those worlds can we build a stronger paradigm of inclusive international security."

My Two Cents:

There are many times that I feel like I need to go back and just audit a late 20th century history class. I lived through things like Bosnia and Kosovo but being born in the mid-80s, I was very young. The Bosnian War is something that I had never really learned that much about. This book sort of ties the history of the Bosnian War with some crucial things to keep in mind with regard to how we engaged with other countries and conflicts around the world.

Hunt labels each chapter as either "Inside" or "Outside." The "Inside" chapters talk about what was actually going with the people, environment, and politics in Bosnia. The "Outside" chapters talk about things going on outside of Bosnia such as some of the thoughts occurring outside of the country, particularly among the American government, wondering whether or not they should act or get NATO involved. 

This book is anything but dry. It's sort of a behind the scenes look at why what happened happened and also why we (the Americans) and the rest of the world acted in the way that we did. I think Hunt did a great job at making this event and the facets of international relations that could be found within accessible to everyone. 

Bottom line: This is a great book that covers some important lessons!


  1. I was also a youngster during the Bosnian war. My knowledge of it was limited to the kids book "Zlata's Diary."

    Now, as an adult I'm still woefully under-informed. Sounds like an interesting read, thanks for the heads up!

  2. Such nice article you post. In which Bosnian war were been major catastrophe happen. Many people suffered from these event.


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