Then They Started Shooting

Growing Up in Wartime Bosnia

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You are nine years old. Your best friend's father is arrested, half your classmates disappear from school, and someone burns down the house across the road. You think your neighbors were planning to kill your family. You are eight years old a

You are nine years old. Your best friend's father is arrested, half your classmates disappear from school, and someone burns down the house across the road. You think your neighbors were planning to kill your family. You are eight years old and imprisoned in your home by your father's old friends. You are ten years old and must climb a mountain at night to escape the soldiers trying to shoot you.

What happens to children who grow up with war? How do they live with the daily reality of danger, hunger, and loss--and how does it shape the adults they become?

In Then They Started Shooting, child psychiatrist Lynne Jones draws the reader into the compelling stories of Serbian and Muslim children who came of age during the Bosnian wars of the 1990s. These children endured hardship, loss, family disruption, and constant uncertainty, and yet in a blow to psychiatric orthodoxy, few showed lasting signs of trauma. Thoughts of their personal futures filled their minds, not memories of war.

And yet, Jones suggests in a chilling conclusion, the war affected them deeply. Officially citizens of the same country, the two communities live separate, wary lives. The Muslims hope for reconciliation but cannot believe in it while so many cannot go home and war criminals are still at large. The Serbs resent the outside world, NATO, and fear the return of their Muslim neighbors. Cynical about politics, all of them mistrust their elected leaders. War may end, but the persistence of corruption and injustice keep wounds from healing.

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