This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace

This Was Not Our War shares first-person accounts of twenty-six Bosnian women who are reconstructing their society following years of devastating warfare. They are from all parts of Bosnia and represent the full range of ethnic traditions and mixed heritages. Their ages spread across sixty years, and their wealth ranges from expensive jewels to a few chickens. For all their differences, they have this much in common: all survived the war with enough emotional strength to work toward rebuilding their country. Reflecting on the causes of the war, they vehemently reject the idea that age-old ethnic hatred made the war inevitable. The women share their reactions to the Dayton Accords, the end of hostilities, and international relief efforts. While they are candid about the difficulties they face, they are committed to rebuilding Bosnia based on ideals of truth, justice, and a common humanity encompassing those of all faiths and ethnicities. Their courage and fortitude are inspirational. Their wisdom—along with the insights Hunt has garnered through her work with women leaders in conflicts around the world—is instructive for anyone who cares about stopping deadly conflict.

Praise for This Was Not Our War

“Replacing tyranny with justice, healing deep scars, exchanging hatred for hope—the women in This Was Not Our War teach us how.”
— William Jefferson Clinton

“I met Swanee Hunt as a diplomat in Vienna. I worked beside her as an activist in the Balkans. Now I know her as a writer, addressing a world sorely in need of her message of challenge and hope. Her words resonate with the authenticity of an observer and advocate who has devoted not only attention, time, and position, but also soul.”
— Queen Noor of Jordan, humanitarian activist for world peace and justice and best-selling author of “Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life”

Winner 2005 PEN New England Award for Literary Excellence

The PEN New England Awards celebrate best works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by New England authors. The award was established by the Boston Globe in 1975 to honor long-time Boston Globe editor Laurence L. Winship. Previous winners of the PEN New England award include E.B. White, Andre Dubus, Susan Cheever, Tracy Kidder, Mary Oliver, Susan Quinn, Jill Ker Conway, Jan Swafford, Anita Shreve, Edward Delaney, Kevin Goodan, Stanley Kunitz, Leo Damrosch, Jennifer Haigh, K.C. Frederick, Louise Glück, Sebastian Junger, Rishi Reddi, Ann Killough, Kristen Laine, Patrick Tracy, Nancy K. Pearson, Margot Livesey, Anne Sanow, Meg Kearney, and Elyssa East.

Visit PEN News England to learn more »

“While victimization and suffering are all too real a feature of the lives of the women chronicled in Swanee Hunt’s This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, the real story is one of struggle and moral courage. Here are women who have demonstrated for the world how to keep human dignity and compassion alive in the most hellish circumstances imaginable. Organizing to distribute food, fuel, and medicine to those in need, often across ethnic lines drawn by war mongers and demagogues. In This Was Not Our War, Swanee Hunt has collected and featured the voices of these women and through her skillful orchestration, she has lodged their stories in our hearts. Stories that ask hard questions and offer real lessons if we but heed them.”
— Introduction of Swanee Hunt, April 10, 2005, during the awards ceremony at John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, MA.