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The Cage by [Gordon Weiss]

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The Cage Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 70 ratings

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Product description


Foreign Affairs Book of the Day

Spectator & Intercept Summer Reading List selection

Mr. Weiss accurately lays out the central challenges that regional actors, nongovernmental organizations and the international community face in Sri Lanka: ensuring accountability for possible war crimes, and a life of dignity and equality for all Sri Lankan citizens. . . . This powerful book is a haunting reminder of the price countries in the developing world pay for the flawed choices of their founders. --Wall Street Journal

An excellent account of how [the government] victory was won, and of the price paid for the present peace by Sri Lankans. . . . Scrupulously fair. --Economist

The general outlines of this story are familiar. But Weiss, a UN official in Colombo at the time, provides harrowing details, as well as insight into the decades of brutal conflict that brought the two sides to the point where they were willing to commit war crimes. --Foreign Affairs

Gripping. . . . [The Cage] is not only a good starting point for understanding contemporary Sri Lankan history, but also offers a beautifully articulated insight into the human experience. --Intercept

[The Cage] raises . . . the question of how witnesses should respond to alleged war crimes, human rights violations, and the breakdown of the rule of law. A sweeping discussion. . . . Weiss deftly sketches the main issues for a general audience while also providing a solid bibliography and detailed endnotes. The book will appeal to readers interested in Sri Lanka, South Asia, political science, military history, and international relations. --Asian Ethnology

A potent analysis. --Los Angeles Review of Books

Weiss excels at chronicling the changes in attitude of the post-9/11 world and the changing geopolitical landscape. . . . For those interested in this modern human rights tragedy and how basic political rights get shredded by both the government and the freedom fighters, then The Cage is a must read. --CCLaP: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

[A] painstakingly researched and referenced study. --Scotsman

A courageous document that holds to account the brutality of a rogue state that is all too often simply seen as a beautiful tourist destination. --Sydney Morning Herald

A striking account of the ruthless terror wreaked by both sides on the innocent civilians. --Sunday Times

An accessible and compelling narrative of Sri Lanka's often violent and tortured history. . . . Weiss pulls no punches in tackling the atrocities committed by the Tigers. But he is equally scathing about the failure of the successive Sri Lankan administrations to deal with the aspirations of the Tamil minority and brutal tactics employed by the Sri Lankan Army to quash the rebellion. --Australian

One of the best books published by an Australian this year . . . Himself the grandson of a man who was murdered in Auschwitz, Weiss is aware of the thin line that separates civilised societies from those that sink into collective madness governed by hatred. --Spectator

The Cage is a tightly written and clear-eyed narrative about one of the most disturbing human dramas of recent years. . . . A riveting, cautionary tale about the consequences of unchecked political power in a country at war. A must-read. --Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer and author of The Fall of Baghdad

Some of the best coverage of Sri Lanka right now is coming from Gordon Weiss." --Nick Bryant, BBC News correspondent

This shattering, heartbreaking tale of savagery and suffering not only lifts the veil that conceals one of the most awful tragedies of the current era, but also helps us understand what should be done, not just in this sad and beautiful land, but long before other such horrors spiral out of control. --Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics, MIT, and author of Hopes and Prospects

The Cage is a comprehensive and compellingly readable account of one of the very worst atrocity stories this century. Weiss is scrupulously evenhanded in describing the terrible excesses of the Tamil Tigers as well as the Sri Lankan authorities. His book is a timely prod to the world's collective conscience. --Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia, Co-Chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All

When I was commissioned to do this report, the first thing I was handed was a copy of The Cage. Weiss's scrupulously balanced account should serve as a guidepost for decision-makers and scholars of international affairs. A book can change the world. --Charles Petrie, diplomat and author of the United Nations "Petrie Report" on the UN's role and responsibilities during the Sri Lankan conflict

A fair and brilliantly written tour de force of this long forgotten war. A book that is long overdue. --Roma Tearne, author of The Mosquito

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Book Description

The death of a democracy, the suppression of a people, the fight for Sri Lanka. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B005CEUCHK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Picador Australia (1 June 2011)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1363 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 474 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 70 ratings

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My objective in writing The Cage was to challenge the myth that few civilians had been killed during the crushing of the Tamil Tigers by Sri Lankan government forces in 2009. I wanted to argue that given the nature of the long civil war, it was in some sense predictable that the conclusion of the war would be extremely vicious.

I had also been thinking about, or dealing with, many of the matters I discuss in this book in my daily work with the United Nations: human rights, international law, war, insurgency groups, nationalism, idealism, historical events, global currents, and the media, so The Cage was also an opportunity to distill some of those ideas, and bring them to bear on the topic at hand.

Since the war itself was reasonably obscure, apart from occasional horrific images flashing across TV screens over three decades, I knew that the book had to be a fluid read, and could not afford to bore. I wanted to include a close reconstruction of the final battles of 2009, including the siege of more than 300,000 civilians, which is really the fulcrum on which the whole book balances.

But I needed to include a contextual history of the rise of Buddhist nationalism from the 19th century, and a wider history of ancient Sri Lanka, as well as 20th century Sri Lanka—its move to independence from Britain, as well as its troubled post-independence. There was an excruciating amount of detail to be boiled down into chapters that not only moved fairly swiftly along, but also which dealt evenly with the subject at hand.

Because the book tries to do a number of very different things, and to do them at varying speeds and depths—to analyze, to bring to life, to narrate, and to inform—I tried to bridge any gaps with what I hope is some solid, good writing. And in the final chapter, I tried to answer a very critical question—so what?

My hope is that it has supported a clearer view among international decision-makers about what happened in the final days of the war and among all its readers, that to really understand conflict, one needs to know the country and its people to be able to put that conflict in proper context. There is no single set of facts, but instead a series of conflicting complexes of facts, often contradictory, but heading in a single trajectory.

Please do share your thoughts with me on my website, or by writing to

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Mr Humbug
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 October 2021
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3.0 out of 5 stars ... lots of dates and numbers which at times reads like a list and bombardment of facts
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 August 2018
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Anne wglin
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and be positively challenged
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2015
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and informative unbiased review of the recent and less ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 January 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book on sri lanka.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 September 2015
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