Written by Joelcy Kay

Editor & Curator | Edge of Humanity Magazine




Blood and Honey

A Balkan War Journal

By Ron Haviv

Essays by Chuck Sudetic and David Rieff

Afterword by Bernard Kouchner


“An intimate and sad moment is captured in this
emotional image of a dead baby placed on a
white cloth. The scene takes place on the ground;
one adult carefully holds the infant while
the other pour the water from a tin can on
the baby’s dead body (pp.127).”


The open sky is the dominating subject in the leading image of ‘Blood and Honey’.   The silhouette of four Bosnian males going about their daily routine while watching a helicopter flying high overhead.  Also in this frame are birds flying low, over a flat landscape where these men are standing.  The simplicity of the bottom half of this image tells a much different story than its the top half.

‘The Crime and the Witness’ , an illustrated essay written by Chuck Sudetic, marks the beginning of ‘Blood and Honey’.  Bosnia refugees at play in Croatia (image p.20) depicts the inside of an abandoned building.  The patterns on the wall resemble paintings from the Dutch masters and from two openings (one probably caused by a bomb) children can be seen playing.

‘Blood and Honey’ tells a story of war; some of the captures are so close you can feel the heat of a fire, smell the smoke in the air and through the eyes of the subjects, you can presence despair. These are the stories I would like to highlight:

Standing in front of a building with glassless windows the woman in red holds her head with both of her hands, desperate her facial expression tells the world around her that she has hit her limit (bottom right p.45).

The focus of the image on page 54 is the raging red fire coming out of a window in this already dilapidated building; the story is that of helplessness as this man out of the nearby window tries to extinguish the fire using a bucket of water.

My favorite environmental portrait is of a ‘victorious Serbian paramilitary’ (pp.62-63). The man stands on a street in front of a wide and tall bombarded building, a classic portrait. He appears drunk holding a bottle of an alcoholic beverage.  Unshaven, his hair looks filthy, and his eyes speak of pure evil. 

Another ‘victorious Serbian paramilitary’ environmental portrait can be found on (pp.78-79). Wearing a uniform, carrying a rifle and displaying a victory hand sign, he rides on a bicycle in front of a burning building.  A dried tree in the background completes this scene where fire is blasting out of some windows while smoke comes out of another.  

The images of back bones protruding from prisoner’s bodies in Bosnia, are raw (pp.87-89), while the image of a chair in a dark basement of a Serbian police station runs chill down my spine (pp.90-91).

Representing the power of faith is the (lightly damaged)  image of Jesus Christ (with all his fingers, toes and head), and still nailed to the cross, that stands tall creating a shadow on the bombarded wall behind; all surrounded  by devastation (p.99).

Blood on snow is the foreground of this landscape photography where a man walks on the side of a narrow trail.  The gray (sky and trees) in this image is perturbed by the red (blood) as the man walks into the trees,  is he leaving the past behind?

Surrounded by bombarded buildings, a  line of people try to find their way out as they walk through heavy debris (construction materials from demolished buildings) on the street.  Men, women, children and elderly, carrying what they can and marching out is a historical depiction of Croats being expelled (pp.136-137).

Wearing a military uniform and holding a rifle, a massacre survivor leans against a tree.  Resting his face on his hand and arm he seems to be composing himself.  A building with large dark windows and overgrown vegetation fills the background, a depiction of abandonment (pp.154-155). 

Stepping away from the serious material depicted in this book is the artistic image on page 157 displaying snow falling on  Americans peacekeepers.  The deep blue sky, snow dots and almost neon green from the uniforms give the photograph a surreal look, which is refreshing at the end of this book.

Trying to see what is left from their home, they look through a window;  strong light from above their heads creates interesting patterns while also illuminating the next room.   A Rembrandt moment (pp.172-173).

‘Blood and Honey –  A Balkan War Journal’ is a journey through moments one can only capture during times of extreme turmoil, when humans are at their best and at their worst. There are no intervals, no intermediaries between the viewer and the depictions. I recommend this book to anyone interested in photography, documentary photography, photojournalism, recent wars, history, the Balkans and travel.  


For book specifics see amazon.com below

Blood And Honey: A Balkan War Journal



Are you looking to have a published review of your Photo Book?


Joelcy Kay (the curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine and the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY) has written many reviews for books in the Edge of Humanity Magazine’s Photography Book Collection and now she is available to write yours.


Here are some of her book recommendations:


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of Humanity Magazine


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