An excerpt from Zlata's Diary:

"Historia est magistra vitae"i - that is what the Old Latins said. It was the first lesson in a schoolbook for Latin. I think it means something. It should have a meaning. And in my war excerpts, in Sarajevo in 1993, I wrote: "Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone is using the ugly powers of war, which horrify me, to try to pull and drag me away from the shores of peace, from happiness of wonderful friendships, playing and love. I feel like a swimmer who was made to enter the cold water, against her will. I feel shocked, sad, unhappy and frightened and I wonder where they are forcing me to go, I wonder why they have taken away my peaceful and lovely shores of my childhood. I used to rejoice at each new day, because each was beautiful in its own way. I used to rejoice at the sun, at playing, at songs. In short, I enjoyed my childhood . I had no need of a better one. I have less and less strength to keep swimming in these cold waters. So take me back to the shores of my childhood, where I was warm, happy and content, like all the children whose childhood and the right to enjoy it are now being destroyed. And the only thing I want to say is: PEACE." The same thing was felt by each child in my town, each child is still feeling it, because, unfortunately, the war is still going on. They are still in cold, war water, looking for help, seeking out a helping hand which would take them out of this cold water because they are helpless. They are seeking PEACE, because it is the smallest thing they should be looking for. They deserve it because they are not guilty, they are innocent, but they suffer the most, unfortunately. I am thinking about the utterance of the Old Latins and am asking myself if it did not mean something in history. It seems it did not mean a lot because there have been millions and millions of sad notes throughout the world, before 1992 and in those terrible 40's of this century. History seems to serve no lesson, it is just repeating itself, on and on. And why? Who knows? I do not, and I will never understand why it is not that "Historia est magistra vitae", when it sounds so edifying.

((Reprinted from Planet Puffin))

Zlata's Diary

Zlata Filipovic
Introduction by Krishnan Ghuru-Murphy

I'm trying to concentrate so that I can do my homework (reading) but I
simply can't. Something is going on in town. You can hear gunfire from the

This entry in Zlata's diary in April 1992 shows how the war draws
relentlessly closer to her home in Sarajevo. When she starts her diary,
Zlata tells of her normal, happy life with her family and friends. But
soon they are fighting to survive. Zlata's very personal account is a
vivid portrait of an innocent child caught up in a terrible war.

'Zlata's diary . . . is fast becoming the book that speaks for a
generation tormented by the horrors of Bosnia. It is an extraordinarily
affecting volume about a girl robbed of her childhood.' - Paul Donovan,
Sunday Times

' . . . Zlata has recorded the horror of war that will touch hearts across
the world.' - Noreen Taylor, Daily Mirror

Price: 4.99 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0140374639
Published: 5/1/95

Zlata's Diary : A Child's Life in Sarajevo
by Zlata Filipovic, Christina Pribichevich-Zoric
ISBN: 0140242058

Reviews and Commentary for

Zlata's Diary : A Child's Life in Sarajevo


From Booklist , 03/01/94:
Zlata Filipovic of Sarajevo began keeping her diary in 1991, just before her
eleventh birthday. Ebullient and accomplished, Zlata recorded the swirl of
activities she avidly pursued, from school to piano lessons, skiing,
parties, and watching her favorite TV shows, all American. We immediately
sense that Zlata and her family have a deep love for their country, but just
as we begin to enjoy Zlata's fine young mind and cheerful disposition, the
chaos and terror of war shatter her world. Schools close, socializing
becomes too risky, and what was once a cozy home is transformed into a
fragile shelter bereft of electricity or water. In spite of great tragedy
and deprivation, Zlata keeps making her lucid diary entries, carefully
chronicling the claustrophobia, boredom, resignation, anger, despair, and
fear war brings. Another birthday passes, and Zlata's observations become
even sharper and more searing. The convoys of fleeing citizens remind her of
movies she's seen of the Holocaust; she notices that grief and hardship have
made her valiant parents haggard and sorrowful; and she can't believe that
her clothes no longer fit. How could she be growing when she has so little
to eat? With a precision and vision beyond her years, Zlata writes that the
"political situation is stupidity in motion," and more hauntingly, "life in
a closed circle continues." Zlata brings Sarajevo home as no news report
can. Her diary was first published by UNICEF, then released in France; U.S.
serial rights have gone to Newsweek, and Zlata and her parents will be
visiting here this month.
Copyright(c) 1994, American Library Association. All rights reserved --This
text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews , 02/15/94:
Originally published in Croat by UNICEF, this is the wartime diary of a
Sarajevo girl who has since moved to Paris. Zlata began keeping her diary at
the age of 11, nearly eight months before the shelling of Sarajevo began. A
chronicle that begins in September 1991 with Zlata buying school supplies is
forced, by March 1993, to reckon with the fact that all ``the schools near
me are either unusable or full of refugees.'' Zlata's voice, understandably,
has difficulty maturing at a pace demanded by the events it records, and
some passages communicate more bathos than outrage or insight. But that's
history's fault, not Zlata's. (First serial rights to Newsweek) -- Copyright
(c)1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an
out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Horn Book :
This much-ballyhooed journal, first published in Croat, has been compared
with the diary of Anne Frank, but it is the very ordinariness of the
thirteen-year-old Zlata that renders so starkly effective her extroverted
account of the war that disrupted her life when it suddenly broke out in her
Sarajevo neighborhood. -- Copyright (c) 1994 The Horn Book, Inc. All rights
reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of
this title.

In September 1991, shortly before war broke out on the streets of Sarajevo,
11-year-old Zlata Filipovic began to keep a diary. In a voice both innocent
and wise, she wrote of the horrors of war--the deaths of friends, a shortage
of food, and days spent in fear--and issued a compelling plea for peace that
has moved parents and children, and will continue to awaken the conscience
of the world.

Customer Comments
A Reader from Albuquerque, NM, United States , 03/22/98, rating=9:
I think this book was very good, especially as a resource.
I liked this book very much. But here and there there were some boring
parts. I thought my life was the worst life ever possible till I read this
book. I suggest that everyone reads it. --This text refers to an out of
print or unavailable edition of this title.

A Reader from USA , 03/15/98, rating=7:
Zlata's Story was Sad but not Very Entertaining
Zlata writes of her experiance in the war. It was a pretty good book, I
guess, but it was very hard to keep track of the charicters and who they
were. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this

A Reader from Madera California , 01/21/98, rating=5:
I really thought Zlata's Diary was boring yet sad.
It is not like this book wasn't a good book, but she kept repeating the same
things over and over. At times it was sad because of what was happening to
her and her family. It was really unfortunate that she had to go through

A Reader from Madera California , 01/21/98, rating=6:
Zlata's Diary was an okay book.
I had read the book once before and I thought it was great. Reading it twice
spoiled my ilusion. It's really sad how a lot of her friends die and it's
sad that Saravejo gets bombed. And bombed. And bombed again. But just
writing about bombs and war doesnn't always make for great reading. And
Zlata's Diary is proof of that.

A Reader from Eleva-Strum, WI -- Dawn, grade 8 , 01/07/98, rating=10:
" Zlata's Diary" was a great book.
Zlata Filipovic began writing her diary when she was 11 years old, only a
few months before the first barricades went up in Sarajevo. Her diary tells
the story of the war and how it effected her life. Many parts were sad,
especially when her own friends died. As I was reading and Zlata told about
the shells going off, I would get mad because the people who let the shells
off were hurting innocent people who did nothing wrong. Sometimes they would
have no food, no gas, no water, and no electricity. It is sad when some of
her family members leave Sarajevo to go somewhere else. Zlata couldn't walk
to her friend's house because it was too dangerous. Zlata's last entry is
dated Sunday,October 17,1993. She thought that the war would never end. At
the end Zlata didn't write if the war had ended for good or if it kept going

A Reader from United States , 11/13/97, rating=10:
A young girl's journey from childhood to war
This book is a must-read/must-have for anyone! I was deeply moved by Zlata's
accounts of life in Sarajevo and found myself in tears many times. Having
friends from Bosnia, I often wonder what life was like for them during the
war but was always too afraid to ask. Zlata's Diary answered many of my
questions and gave me a better understanding of the true tragedy of war.
Everyone should read this book. --This text refers to an out of print or
unavailable edition of this title. from Madison, Indiana United States , 10/29/97, rating=10:
A wonderful book. Extremely touching.
I thought the book Zlata's Diary was one of the best books I'd ever read. It
was extremely touching.It begins with a little girl, age 11, who has to
become an adult too early in her life because of a terrible war going on in
Bosnia. H er most precious friend during the whole thing was her diary, in
which she wrote all her thoughts about life, and war. A young girl's life
ruined because of a disgusting war.

A Reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA , 10/27/97, rating=8:
The book was very eye-opening to the problems in Bosnia.
I thought that the book was very good, but also very sad in times, like when
Zlata's friends left or were killed. But since the book was a diary, it also
got boring at times, when she would go through a boring day and tell us
about it. I liked the book overall, but some parts were very boring.

Ginny Hoover , 06/20/97, rating=7:
Civil Rights are not always a right!
For those of you who look at unfamiliar names of people and places and get
frustrated before you can even get past the first few pages, this book is
one that deserves your effort to continue reading. Although she is compared
to Anne Frank, Zlata's Diary is much different. I think that Anne found
freedom in her "prison" by writing in her diary. I think that Zlata uses her
diary as a release from the emotional frustration she does not allow herself
to show in front of her parents. There is also the motivation of writing for
publishing. Early on, Zlata learns her diary will be published. There are
times when that motivation comes through in her writing. Still, Zlata's
experiences in the war torn city gives us a first hand impression of modern
war and innocent victims of such. She is a very literate young lady who went
from being "well off" to victim of war. Therefore, there is some common
ground--rock stars, movie stars, etc.
((reprinted from


by Samatha Zamluk (Age 16) with contributions from Melissa Brown & Ms. Bass
Grade: 10
School: R.D. Parker Collegiate
Thompson, Manitoba

At first, like most 11 year olds, Zlata Filipovic led a normal and happy
life in her city of Sarajevo, Bosnia. Zlata was a straight A student who
liked pizza, skiing, skating, tennis, reading, MTV, and piano. She also
loved writing in her diary which she called "Mimmy."

Then the war broke out in her city in the spring of 1992. As she
recorded in her diary, her whole life changed. Zlata was trapped
at home because the streets were too dangerous. There was often no
electricity, water, and gas. Many of her friends left the city, and she
missed them very much. On May 7, 1992, Nina, one of Zlata's best friends was
killed by bomb. Many other relatives and friends were hurt or killed. Even
in Zlata's house, it wasn't safe. Her family often had to spend the whole
night or several days in the cellar.

Zlata had trouble understanding why people were fighting. At one point, she
(p. 47.)

Zlata had her diary published with the help of her English teacher and a
United Nations agency, UNICEF. She became famous, and even in the middle of
the war, reporters came to interview her.