The staff of Oslobodjenje stood against the power of
the League of Communists and the ambitions of the newly emerging
nationalist parties to bear witness to the Siege of Sarajevo and
the murder of more than 10,000 of that city's people. "What is a
reporter to do," Mr. Kurspahic asks, "but to report what he sees
and experienced?" We should be grateful for the author's commitment
to his craft which drove him to write this book.
By their devotion to the ideals of freedom of association
and freedom of expression, Kemal Kurspahic and the staff of Oslobodjenje
have established a new plateau of achievement to inspire future
generations in the endless struggle for human dignity and human
rights. This book stands as a testament to the power of the ideals
to prevail over corrupting power and force.
- Bill Kovach,
Curator, Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
There were many wartime heroes in Sarajevo, but none
has told the day-to-day, moment-by-moment, story of daring, death,
and triumph that Kemal Kurspahic shares in As Long As Sarajevo
Exists. Here is the battle to save Bosnia's soul, described
by one of her bravest warriors. Gripping, awe-inspiring book.
- Tom Gjelten,
Diplomatic Correspondent, NPR, and author of "Sarajevo Daily:
A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege"
Kemal Kurspahic has emerged from Bosnia with the most
extraordinary story of all. It is the unique saga of his newspaper,
Oslobodjenje, which continued to publish throughout Sarajevo's years
of siege. At times, Kurspahic's book verges on the surreal: a Serb
commander calls Oslobodjenje, asks whether the paper ordered 32
mortar shells, promises to deliver them right away, and moments
later ,32 mortar shells are fired at the paper. Such events were
routine in the anything-but-routine life of Osllobodjenje. Kurspahic
was the paper's editor, and his book poignantly describes the humanity
and heroism of his reporters, a men and women of all ages, of all
ethnic groups, devoted to one goal, which was to produce a newspaper
that upheld the highest standards of journalism and morality. They
succeeded, and although the outcome of the war is not what they
wished for, or what the people of Bosnia deserve, their story is
an inspiring one that, thanks to Kurspahic, will not be forgotten.
It is here for all to read and be amazed by.
- Peter Maass,
Former Washington Post Correspondent in Bosnia, and author of
"Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War"
Like Vietnam, Bosnia was a forcing house for a generation
of western reporters but most of those who returned with burnished
reputations to London and Paris and New York had the comforts of
armored cars, and flack jackets, and a reluctance among the ethnic
cleansers to mess too crudely with the west. For Kemal Kurspahic
and those who worked with him at Sarajevo's only surviving newspaper,
there were no such comforts. From a building reduced to rubble by
artillery fire, with only candles to light their work and little
but conscience to reward them, the men and women of Oslobodjenje
helped to keep the flame of freedom alive. In Kurspahic's account
of that struggle-As Long As Sarajevo Exists-a profession
with too many cardboard heroes has a benchmark of true grit.
- John Burns,
The New York Times, two-time Pulitzer Prize Recipient for International
It is a miracle that the city, the state, the newspaper, and the
ideals they held in common, survived. Oslobodjenje made its contribution
to that miracle, and at war's end remains what it had been at the
start: the voice of multiethnic Bosnia.
Kemal Kurspahic's gripping, eloquent memoir makes clear that those
responsible were individuals who risked their lives to safeguard
their newspaper. They knew what was at stake. Preserving their free
and independent voice against the gleichschaltung, demanded by the
Bosnian Serbs, was only the most obvious of the survival struggles
in which they had to engage.
(In the introduction to the book)
- Roy Gutman,
Pulitzer Prize winning corespondent, Newsday
The Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje (in Serbo-Croatian Liberation)
cannot always be held to have been free and caustic, and it is not
entirely free or entirely caustic now. But it, and its mixed staff
of Muslims, Serbs, Croats, Jews, and - an essential minority - unbelievers,
did find an approximate collective voice. The ancient Greeks held
that courage was not a virtue in itself, but that it was a quality
that made all the virtues possible.
(In a foreword to the book)
- Christopher Hitchens,