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Book Review: Quest for Europe’s most wanted man

27th Jun 2013

book cover


The Quest for Radovan Karadzic. By Nick Hawton. London: Hutchinson, pp226. PB. 2009. £14.99



The subject of this book is Radovan Karadzic, Europe’s most wanted man, written by an investigative journalist who had direct, first-hand access to information about Karadzic, his family and his movements over more than a decade.


According to Hawton, “After more than ten years on the run, Dr Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb President, former psychiatrist, one-time poet and war crimes fugitive, was in custody. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had charged him in absentia with genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, unlawfully inflicting terror upon civilians, and the taking of hostages. He was accused of helping to mastermind one of the most brutal and murderous regimes in modern history.” (p5)


After planning and perpetrating one of modern history’s worst mass murders and genocides, how was Karadzic able to evade numerous western intelligence agencies, NATO peacekeepers, and even individual bounty hunters – with $5 million reward? He not only evaded arrest but surprisingly went onto pursue a career as a writer, poet and even had some of his works published. He became an alternative healer, taking part in public seminars and developed his own website. He had been living relatively peacefully in his own apartment located on the outskirts of the Serbian capital, regularly being visited by his friends and family members.


In Hawton’s own words, “…how had all this been possible? How had Europe’s most wanted man been able to escape justice for so long? Where had he been hiding? Who had been protecting him? It was believed by some that he had made a deal with the Americans…or with the French…or with the British. There were rumours that he had been living in a monastery disguised as a priest; or that he had spent time hiding in remote caves in the Bosnian mountains. What was the truth? Where had Radovan Karadzic been, and how had he avoided his pursuers for so long?” (p5)


Consisting of a prologue and 15 short but equally engaging chapters, in this book the author seeks to provide answers to the above questions. When everyone else seemed to have had given up pursuing Karadzic, Hawton followed his trail from the mountains of Montenegro to the corridors of power in Belgrade, and in the process he uncovered a tale of intrigue, power-play, betrayal, murder, dirty politics, espionage and international conspiracy.


This book reads exactly like a detective novel although in reality it is a real, factual work of investigative journalism; a truly gripping read!


Muhammad Khan is author of The Muslim 100 (2008) and The Muslim Heritage of Bengal (2013).




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