NOTE: I see the title has been changed. The title of my blog post is the original title of the book. I am not sure when Butcher changed the book title, but I can imagine why. The book was more about Tim's journey following in Gavro's footsteps than about Gavro himself.
What I could have done without was Butcher's interspersing of stories during his own coverage of the war in the early-mid 90s. I don't feel it added much to Princip's story. It felt unnecessary and just filler - especially since the whole premise of the book was supposed to be following Princip's path as he moved toward infamy.
The thing is, and the reason I chose this book to begin with, I'm not sure I even recall learning his name in school when learning about events leading up to WW1. Simply, an assassin shot the Archduke and his wife, and so came war.
I feel a particular sadness for Princip's descendants, carving out their existence in the small village where Gavro was born. I like that he is referred to affectionately, that at least his family still remembers to carry in his name - especially because everyone else in his country seems to prefer to forget him.
I find the last know photograph of Princip on page 286 truly haunting. Here he is not angry or defiant, as he'd been described previously. He seems resigned to the fact that despite the twenty year sentence, he will die in prison. It is a sad end for someone who dreamed of bringing about such a change for his people, for them to be free.
However, it can not be forgotten that this action spawned not one, but two world wars. There is simply no way Hitler could have come to power had Germany not been so slowly and painfully dying under the weight of the reparations she was forced to make.
Still Princip could not have known that these few bullets would ultimately mean the death of millions over the course of the next 30 years, from WW1 through WW2. He was simply doing what he had always done, as he'd been described by those who knew him: he was the little guy, standing up for those who could not stand up for themselves, standing up to the bullies.