Judith Armatta

What People are Saying

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Reviews of Twilight of Impunity:

General Wesley Clark was Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO during the Kosovo War from 1997 until 2000. Read his review of Twilight of Impunity, Washington Monthly, July/August 2010. For a plain text version of this document please click the link.

"Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman describes in his autobiography how, prior to being examined for his doctoral degree, he sat down by himself for a few days and organized everything he knew—and we knew—about physics. It must have been wonderful. And that’s just what Judith Armatta has done for the Balkans, the International Criminal Tribunal, and former Serb dictator Slobodan Milošević, in this amazing book about Milošević's trial in the Hague. Armatta is a lawyer, journalist, and human rights advocate who monitored the war crimes trial of Milošević from its inception in 2001 until his death during the trial in 2005. She has brought a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the Balkans from previous work in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. In her observations, she proves to be an acute student of law, character, strategy, and history.

"None of this is easy going. The Balkans is obscure geographically, marginal economically, and loaded with unpronounceable names, often missing vowels. Yet the barbarous inhumanity of some of the participants was shocking, and, at first, ignited widespread media attention. Yet the war—and it was one long war of Serb aggression—was tortuous by design, and, without American ground force casualties, easily ignored by much of the media in the end. In the U.S., efforts to mediate and, ultimately, intervene assumed a partisan character. Even the tribunal has often been publicly derided in the United States. And the trial itself received scant public attention."

London School of Economics Politics and Political Science, British Politics and Policy Blog. Reviewed by Ramona Wadi, December 11, 2011. Excerpts from the review:

"A vital read for students and researchers interested in the ramifications and contradictions of international law and justice, Ramona Wadi finds that Judith Armatta’s detailed narration and analysis Sarajevo Synagogue with many bullet holes and bomb damage, photo by author. of Milošević's trial an important contribution to the field."

"[Twilight of Impunity] completely immersed me from the moment I cast my eyes on the metaphoric title. It is a book which I will definitely be reading again and again, and an excellent reference." Email from Ramona Wadi

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Recent Books, review:
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Volume 90 NO.1, January/February 2011, pp. 186-187.

"Armatta, a lawyer, journalist, human rights activist, and expert on the Balkans, sat through three years of excruciating testimony in The Hague for the first trial of a head of state since Admiral Karl Donitz at Nuremburg--the trial of Slobodan Milošević for 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. By her own confession, she was scarcely an impartial observer, having witnessed much of what served as the basis for the charges, but she provides more than a fair analysis of the proceedings' fumblings and ill-advised decisions. Hers is the front-row view of a first-rate court reporter, giving the reader a TiVo-like version, culled of dead space and repetition, that is still exhausting in its arduous pace and detail. Diligently, she watched and recorded as the court probed all three charges from Kosovo, back through the Croatian and Bosnian wars, tediously piling up the evidence as Milošević bobbed and weaved. One comes away half heartened by the effort to answer unspeakable cruelty and suffering with justice but, in a way, more saddened by Milošević's slippery success in persuading his partisans and many of his countrymen that they, not he, were on trial, the victims of great power bullies. And then there is the whimper with which it was all ended, by a heart attack that left him prosecuted but unjudged."

Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milošević
. BY JUDITH ARMATTA. Duke University Press, 2010,576 pp. $39.95.

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William Pruitt, Elmira College, H-Genocide, August 2014. H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

"Armatta pulls back the veil of ignorance by exposing the ICTY, its prosecutors, judges, and amici curiae (friends of the court) to the light, and the view we get is not always pretty. While some will be inclined to reject her portrayal, in reality it is the only way to fully understand these international courts. If we cannot accept the facts behind the curtain, warts and all, then we should not promote the use of such tribunals."

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Sabrina P. Ramet, PhD., Professor of Political science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), in Trondheim and a senior associate of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo.D: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs 3 2013

"As a record of the testimonies, tracking disclosures and providing a summary of the case against Slobodan Milošević, Armatta is unrivalled."

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James Gow, Professor, Kings College, Slavic Review, Vol. 70:4m, page 924.

"This book will rightly become a key reference in the literature both on the war and the politics that surrounded Yugoslavia’s dissolution and on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. It is the product of Judith Armatta’s having sat through the trial as a legal analyst and observer for the Coalition for International Justice. This is a privilege that would not be available to the regular scholar whose other university duties would not permit a research indulgence of this kind. That community of scholars should—and will—be grateful, therefore, that Armatta was able to do so because she has produced a massive resource that will save many hours of investigation, even if this community does not, indeed, could never, embrace absolutely everything associated with this book’s focus."

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Law & Politics Book Review, sponsored by the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association, Reviewed by Mark A. Drumbl, Washington & Lee University, School of Law. Volume 21, No. 4. pp 177-180.

"Judith Armatta, a human rights lawyer and journalist, spent many days over nearly three years attending at Milošević's trial in The Hague. TWILIGHT OF IMPUNITY emerges as the ensuing work product. Although she modestly claims that TWILIGHT OF IMPUNITY is “not the definitive trial record” (p.x), it definitely serves as the definitive book about the trial.

"Armatta’s encyclopedic compendium is impeccably researched, meticulous, detailed, prudent, and careful. It distinguishes itself as a must-read.

"Her chronology follows that of the trial. She begins with the Kosova part of the indictment, then moves to Croatia, and then to Bosnia. She then explores Milošević's defense, which was partial in the sense he never came to answer for many of the charges leveled against him – in particular, that of genocide at Srebrenica. Textually, Armatta’s work is accessible. It is jargon-free, denuded of elliptical reasoning, and liberated from nomenclature. Yet it still conveys the complexities of substantive law, the improbabilities of securing convictions, and the often Sisyphean task of proving facts as matters of law rather than accepting them as self-evident happenings."

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Daniel Lemisch, Former US Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisor to Serbia, January 11, 2011.

"I just finished Twilight of Impunity and have to say it is one of the finest books of any kind I’ve ever read. Not only is it a clear, readable account of the trial, but it’s the best description of the events leading to the dissolution of Yugoslavia that I’ve come across. Armatta’s explanation of the trial, the attorneys and the judges made me feel as though I know them. Twilight of Impunity is a work that will stand as one of the finest chronicles of that terrible time and the nascent international criminal justice system’s attempt to address it."

S.R. Silverburg, Catawba College, Choice, v. 48, no. 5, January 2011 wrote this review:

"To highlight the wide range of publications reviewed in Choice, each month Choice editors feature some noteworthy reviews from the current issue. Choice is the newsletter of the academic section of the American Library Association.  This newsletter features a selection of noteworthy titles published in Choice this month.  Chosen by the Choice editors from among the nearly 600 reviews published monthly, these titles stand out for their excellence, timeliness, originality, or sheer reading pleasure."

"The breakup of the federated states of Yugoslavia, which began in 1991, led to open, violent conflict between the different states and ethnic groups. One byproduct was a policy of genocide initiated by the mostly Christian Serbian forces against Kosovar Muslims. The president of Serbia was Slobodan Milošević, who was also the titular head of its military forces and ultimately the recipient of the sobriquet "Butcher of the Balkans." Amatta, a lawyer, a journalist, a human rights advocate, and an activist, took on the task of documenting the trial of Milošević before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Milošević, who was indicted while president but arrested subsequent to his removal from office, was brought before the Tribunal on 66 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The trial's tales include a horrendous unveiling of inhuman acts perpetrated by official and unofficial Serbian forces against Kosovars. In the end, justice was denied when in March 2006 Milošević died of a heart attack in his jail cell, which was attached to the Tribunal. This is a definite source for the examination of post-WW II human rights trials and post-conflict resolution institutions. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels."

Armatta, Judith. Twilight of impunity: the War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milošević. Duke University, 2010. 345p index afp ISBN 0-8223-4746-6, $39.95; ISBN 9780822347460, $39.95.48-2938 KZ1203 2009-51107 CIP

Toby Vogel reviewed three books, including Twilight of Impunity. European Voice, January 9, 2010. Readers subscribe to the online version.

"Three books examine the complex system of war-crimes tribunals in the Balkans and further afield.

"Judith Armatta, a lawyer, reporter and human-rights campaigner, has written a detailed and thorough account of the trial that is certain to answer more questions than any lay reader is ever likely to have. As a record of the proceedings, and of the substance of Milošević's presumed crimes, "Twilight of impunity" is invaluable."

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Penny Booth is a law academic and an honorary research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law, University of Liverpool. She writes here in a personal capacity. Download her reivew of Twilight of Impunity, Times Higher Education, December 23, 2010. For a plain text version of this document please click the link.

"Here, Armatta - a journalist, scholar and human rights lawyer who had a front-row seat at the proceedings - trains her focus on the trial of Milosevicc itself rather than attempting to offer a pure history of the conflicts in Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia.

“Nevertheless, indications of the many different versions of that history do emerge, and clearly the complexities are huge.”

“Particularly useful is her commentary on the operational failings of trials of this nature. There is good reason to hold such trials: to expose, explain, reveal and exonerate; to cleanse, exculpate and hear versions of the truth. They are not, however, at all easy to carry out.”

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Chuck Sudetic, author of Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia and co-author of Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity.

“In Twilight of Impunity, Judith Armatta has done for the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the Butcher of the Balkans, what Hannah Arendt did for the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Architect of the Holocaust: present an unflinching depiction of the crimes, the anguish of the victims and witnesses, the arrogance of the killers, the virtues and flaws of the judicial process, and the banality of the evil that can arise when leaders assume they enjoy impunity.”

Paul R. Williams, Rebecca I. Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations, American University Washington College of Law

“Judith Armatta spent three incredible years with a front row seat in the trial that many hope will signal a beginning of the end to impunity. Through this book the reader is granted a rare privilege to share Judith’s journey through the trial of Milošević. As such, Twilight of Impunity serves as an indispensable cornerstone to the historical record of the Yugoslav conflict, and is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand how and why genocide returned to Europe.”

Nina Bang-Jensen, former Executive Director/Counsel, Coalition for International Justice

“As the only independent lawyer to have monitored and reported regularly from the Milošević trial courtroom from its first day, Judith Armatta has produced an unparalleled, firsthand account of the first truly international war crimes trial of a national leader. She captures the courtroom atmosphere and personalities with a thoroughly engaging reportorial style, but brings her legal and regional expertise to bear in explaining and analyzing important testimony and judicial decisions. Twilight of Impunity is not only a singular history of the trial, but a compelling narrative of the major battles and convoluted diplomatic struggles of the Balkan wars. The book is filled with previously unreported insights arising from the testimony of major figures of the era, including Milošević, former world leaders, NATO officials, victims, judges and prosecutors. A compelling and thorough source of unconventional wisdom on the trial and its impact, this book must be read by anyone hoping to understand the Balkans and the new era of international war crimes trials.”