When the 2014 Maidan Revolution, the nearing division of the country in an EU looking western part and a Russia looking eastern part, followed by the blitz annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the shootdown of the Malaysian Airways plane with lots of Dutch passengers aboard, Ukraine got featured in the news almost every day. In the Netherlands, I got the chance to vote in a consultative referendum whether or not The Netherlands as EU member should ratify an association agreement with Ukraine. But who did actually know the country and its turbulent history?
I was happy to find In Wartime – Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah being announced. The author visited cities, local officials, musea and spoke to numerous people in the eras that Poles, Russians, Germans ruled this region. He finds sympathy for Vladimir Putin in unexpected places, almost vanished Jewish communities, ties with Georgia, and similarities with the Balkan War. What is Ukraine actually? What do flags stand for? Does one feel Russian, Pole, Jew, Ukrainian? What does language mean? Judah travels to Lviv, Odessa, passes the border with Crimea and still finds its infrastructure integrated with the rest of Ukraine. The book covers topics like bureaucracy, mining industry, the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and fascism, forced relocations of people and the daily struggle to survive.
About the author
Tim Judah is a reporter for The Economist. A graduate of the London School of Economics and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Judah worked for the BBC before covering the Balkan wars for The Times and other publications. He covered the war in Ukraine for The New York Review of Books. He lives in London with his wife and their five children.