Damages Review
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Bazhe's life from the start was troubled. His biological mother was a 15-year-old girl brutally raped by a Yugoslav government official. Her family refused to accept that she was raped, so infant Bazhe was placed in an orphanage. Another government official and his wife adopted him. Bazhe's adoptive parents seemed mostly concerned by social status. His father was both physically and sexually abusive, while his mother, so concerned about appearances, was unwittingly emotionally abusive.

Damages shows how people who grow up in oppressed societies were dehumanized. Women were brutalized. Homosexuality was not tolerated. Bazhe discovered his homosexuality at a fairly young age. His first love, Rambo, betrayed him and ultimately caused him to be kicked out of the university/military academy that he attended.

He described the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism that lead to slaughters in places like the former Yugoslavia. Extreme paranoia and distress existed between members of different ethnic groups. Bazhe witnessed the collapse of Tito's Yugoslavia and eventually fled the country.

Yet Bazhe, in his nostalgia for his childhood, said that Americans are cold and do not enjoy life. But considering how the "warm-hearted" Slavs slaughtered each other and the major abuses he suffered in his family, perhaps his idea of what is warm and cold needs to be revisited.

A major theme of the book, particularly in the early parts, seems to be the dishonesty in Yugoslav society created by past oppression, including that of Tito. People were not able to tell each other unpleasant things, even though hiding the truth and lying merely wasted everyone's time. One exception was Nurse Rodna. Though she certainly acted entirely in her own self interest, Nurse Rodna cut to the core of all of the deceptions and exposed the full truth to all those in Bazhe's life. She and Lena (a friend of Bazhe's mother) appeared to be the most honest people around.

Damages gives an excellent look into the horrific world of Bazhe's life in the Balkans, and at the end, you'll be more than happy to escape with him to America. Check out Bazhe's site at www.bazhe.com

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