Best Defense

‘The Fixer: A Story From Sarajevo’: A fine book about war and journalism these days

Tom Ricks on Joe Sacco's graphic account of the Bosnian war.


My daughter passed along to me a graphic non-fiction book she’d read, Joe Sacco’s The Fixer: A Story From Sarajevo. I was impressed. I think this is one of the best books I have read about the Bosnian war, and also about war journalism these days.

My time in Sarajevo was short but overlapped briefly with the story told in the book. The story resonated especially with me because once, when I needed a ride to Zagreb, Croatia, I hired a “fixer” who had done a little work for NPR to drive me up. He spoke good English and as we drove, he told me about his time as a sniper with Bosnian forces. (Something that the fixer in Sacco’s book did also.) As my driver described it, his job was to hide on the mountainside east of the city and shoot Serbian fighters as they tried to fire artillery and mortar shells down into the center of the city. But he said he never liked it, and was much more a party guy than a killer.

As we drove we listened to some music tapes I’d brought along. But the sniper shook his head at my ’90s tastes. “I really don’t like anything put out after ‘Hotel California,'” he said.

via Wikimedia

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at @tomricks1
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