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Urgent and insightful, Tim Judah's account of the human side of the conflict in Ukraine is an evocative exploration of what the second largest country in Europe feels like in wartime.Making his way from the Polish border in the west, through the capital city and the heart of the 2014 revolution, to the eastern frontline near the Russian border, seasoned war reporter Tim Ju Urgent and insightful, Tim Judah's account of the human side of the conflict in Ukraine is an evocative exploration of what the second largest country in Europe feels like in wartime.Making his way from the Polish border in the west, through the capital city and the heart of the 2014 revolution, to the eastern frontline near the Russian border, seasoned war reporter Tim Judah brings a rare glimpse of the reality behind the headlines. Along the way he talks to the people living through the conflict - mothers, soldiers, businessmen, poets, politicians - whose memories of a contested past shape their attitudes, allegiances and hopes for the future. Together, their stories paint a vivid picture of a nation trapped between powerful forces, both political and historical. 'Visceral, gripping, heartbreaking' Simon Sebag Montefiore


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Urgent and insightful, Tim Judah's account of the human side of the conflict in Ukraine is an evocative exploration of what the second largest country in Europe feels like in wartime.Making his way from the Polish border in the west, through the capital city and the heart of the 2014 revolution, to the eastern frontline near the Russian border, seasoned war reporter Tim Ju Urgent and insightful, Tim Judah's account of the human side of the conflict in Ukraine is an evocative exploration of what the second largest country in Europe feels like in wartime.Making his way from the Polish border in the west, through the capital city and the heart of the 2014 revolution, to the eastern frontline near the Russian border, seasoned war reporter Tim Judah brings a rare glimpse of the reality behind the headlines. Along the way he talks to the people living through the conflict - mothers, soldiers, businessmen, poets, politicians - whose memories of a contested past shape their attitudes, allegiances and hopes for the future. Together, their stories paint a vivid picture of a nation trapped between powerful forces, both political and historical. 'Visceral, gripping, heartbreaking' Simon Sebag Montefiore

30 review for In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    It's the end of January, 2017. War in Ukraine has been going on for almost three years, yet the conflict has all but disappeared from most media outlets. The focus of the world has been uniformly on Syria , a country torn in a bloody civil war for almost six years, and the incredible amount of terror and suffering inflicted on its citizens, which resulted in the greatest refugee and migration crisis in recent memory. Ukraine quickly disappeared from newspaper headlines, being demoted to an occas It's the end of January, 2017. War in Ukraine has been going on for almost three years, yet the conflict has all but disappeared from most media outlets. The focus of the world has been uniformly on Syria , a country torn in a bloody civil war for almost six years, and the incredible amount of terror and suffering inflicted on its citizens, which resulted in the greatest refugee and migration crisis in recent memory. Ukraine quickly disappeared from newspaper headlines, being demoted to an occasional paragraph or two at best, if it was mentioned at all. When reporters talk about preventing another Srebrenica, they are talking about the city of Aleppo in Syria; the fact that another Srebrenica can just as well happen again in Europe is not discussed anymore, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia seems to be all but accepted. Tim Judah is an author and correspondent who has covered and written about conflicts in several countries - most recently about Ukraine for The Economist. In Wartime is a collection of dispatches and stories from the country, which he has amassed via his travels throughout it, and his conversations with the local people. Good things first: In Wartime is very readable and engaging, and offers plenty of information about Ukraine to those who are not very familiar with the country. Judah takes care to offer background information for locations that he visits, indulging the reader with plenty of anecdotes about the very complex and often tragic history of Ukraine, a country which for long has been torn between its neighbors, and has suffered purges, pogroms, an incredible man-made famine and occupation which has killed millions of its citizens - all in the last century. Judah has to be commanded for remaining neutral and letting his subjects speak for themselves, and the many conversations that he has with people that he meets show how far from uniform Ukrainian society is, and how it is divided on many important subjects, such as its ties with Russia. An important question which hangs in the air is: what does it mean to be Ukrainian in a country which for centuries has been a melting pot of peoples, a crossroad of cultures? This is a tough question to answer: in the capital of the country streets are renamed to honor the Ukrainian insurgents who fought both against Nazism and communism, while at the same time a history museum and its director whitewash crimes committed by these same insurgents against ethnic Poles and Jews during that time. In another part of the country, these insurgents are viewed with condemnation as are the people who honor them, a fact which is constantly milked by political enemies of Ukraine to create further division. The complain which I would have about Judah's book lies in its form: it is a collection of dispatches, and by no means aims to pain a complete - or even broad - picture of Ukraine, its society and even the conflict. What it does is show the reader individual faces of people of Ukraine who would otherwise mostly never be given a voice. The book offers glimpses into Ukraine and its history, but glimpses is all they are. I would argue that the book would have benefited from a central, unifying thread - such as the author trying to recreate the history of the conflict by traveling from one town to the other, as the way various towns are presented can be a little disorienting and confusing. Reading In Wartime can feel very disjointed, but then again we can argue that this is the nature of reporting - we read dispatches from where the reporter happens to be present at the time. But then again, what exactly is stopping him from organizing his thoughts, experiences and the material he gathered more coherently for book form? While I would not name In Wartime as essential reading, I think the book will be useful for anyone willing to broaden their knowledge about Ukraine, and the causes and history of the conflict in the country, and hopefully inspire them to read more about them. I would even say that the book might be a necessary one - to remind the world that in the middle of Europe, in a country which co-hosted the 2012 UEFA European Championship, shots are being fired and people are dying.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    In the last 100 years Ukraine has suffered war, pogroms, political purges and famine, not all of which were carried out by outsiders. The country is large and perpetrators and victims are still around (as well as their children and grandchildren) with silence, anger and no national consensus. Judah covers a lot of ground both literally and figuratively. He visits destinations of note and interviews a variety of people. He visits war memorials with tanks, shells and military vehicles. There are co In the last 100 years Ukraine has suffered war, pogroms, political purges and famine, not all of which were carried out by outsiders. The country is large and perpetrators and victims are still around (as well as their children and grandchildren) with silence, anger and no national consensus. Judah covers a lot of ground both literally and figuratively. He visits destinations of note and interviews a variety of people. He visits war memorials with tanks, shells and military vehicles. There are commemorates for the famine(s); one names those who disappeared to the Gulag after the war. There is a hotel built on the grounds of a former detention camp. Chernobyl is 120 kilometers away and there is unique zoo and zoological lab, Askania-Nova, in Kherson Oblast. A trip to Bessarabia shows the situation of a province attached to its country by only a road. Lvov is an example of the dislocation that followed World War II: After the war 780,00 Poles crossed the border to live back in Poland and 439,000 Ukranian from elsewhere took their place in Lvov (not exactly, Russian soldiers occupied the empty houses). The Jewish population was nearly wiped out. People seem willing to talk. In the eastern Ukraine there is loyalty to Russia and an unexpected veneration of Stalin who wreaked so much misery on this country. Those in western Ukraine look to Europe and hope to join the EU, but the endemic corruption makes it difficult for some to be patriotic. There is hope that EU membership and its standards will help reduce corruption. A large segment of the population, in both the east and west, only wants only a settled future and does not care who provides it. All suffer from the cost of war and the uncertain future. Jobs are hard to find, bribing to get a job is common. Mortgages are made in foreign currencies and the devaluation of the Hryvnia has meant default for many. As elsewhere in the world, young people go to the cities and the elderly are in the countryside. Since the elderly can neither work or sell their land, most supplement their pensions by renting it out. Two interviews and biographies stand out, not only for what they say, but for their globalized lives. One is the American Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine’s Minister of Finance, the other is a port owner/manager Andrey Stavnitser. There is an OK index and there are notes. The photos are not labeled; often the content is clear from the narrative, but not always. This is a good overview and puts a human face on the issues of this troubled country.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Americans have some interest in Ukraine these days, which is nice, although the interest extends only insofar as the country plays a role in our national reality show. Once Trump is acquitted by the Senate, Ukraine will be forgotten, just as Crimea and the post-Soviet Budapest Memorandum (in which the U.S., as well as the U.K. and Russia, guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine) have been forgotten. Fortunately, Tim Judah, a British journalist who covered the Balkans in the 90s, provides Americans have some interest in Ukraine these days, which is nice, although the interest extends only insofar as the country plays a role in our national reality show. Once Trump is acquitted by the Senate, Ukraine will be forgotten, just as Crimea and the post-Soviet Budapest Memorandum (in which the U.S., as well as the U.K. and Russia, guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine) have been forgotten. Fortunately, Tim Judah, a British journalist who covered the Balkans in the 90s, provides nuance and context for anyone who wants a glimpse of the country beyond MSNBC bullet points. In Wartime is neither "left" nor "right", although the self-evidence of those terms seems to become nebulous when I think about Ukraine these days. I tend to watch and read and listen to a fair amount of left-wing stuff, for example, and I agree with a lot of it, but I'm always disappointed by American left-wing discussions of Ukraine, which tend to involve terms like "NATO expansion", "U.S.-backed coup", "neo-Nazis" and "American imperialism." I've come to the tentative conclusion that a lot of people believe things like this about the Ukrainian revolution not because they've looked into it, but because they're applying what they know about U.S. foreign policy in relation to other parts of the world, especially Latin America. That history should never be forgotten; we should try not to elect presidents who are friends with Henry Kissinger. But in the particular case of Ukraine, the U.S. coup idea depends on believing a number of absurdities, not the least of which is the notion that the CIA manipulated hundreds of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians into gathering at Maidan, staying there for months in freezing temperatures, and in some cases losing their lives. U.S. agents also must have manipulated Ukrainians into believing that Yanukovich and the Russian government didn't have their best interests at heart...except that Ukrainians figured that out on their own, no Western propaganda necessary, and the subsequent Russian invasion of their country- now responsible for over 10,000 deaths and millions displaced- seems to have solidified the notion. But the broader problem with the coup interpretation, aside from the fact that there's no evidence for it, is that it ignores the agency of Ukrainians. A more plausible explanation might be that a majority simply wanted to live in a more just society- less unequal, less corrupt, less autocratic. And with a belligerent, more militarily powerful country on their eastern border, led by ideologues who believe that Ukraine is "not a real country", maybe they have a valid reason for wanting to join the EU and NATO after all. Which is not to say that I prefer the right-wing interpretation- it would be a stretch to even call it an interpretation in Trump's case. He sized up Zelensky and thought he could exploit him; he obviously despises Ukraine and Ukrainians, and couldn't care less about helping them fight corruption or deal with Russia. He despises them for the same reason he despises the Kurds, Latin American immigrants, Puerto Ricans, Palestinians, and protestors in Hong Kong- he perceives them as weak. Because Trump worships power, and because Putin seems to be powerful, Trump knows that Putin must be right: that Ukrainians and Russians are "really the same people", which incidentally is not very different from the claim that Hitler once made to justify bringing Austria into the Reich. Our culture of knee-jerk reaction is another reason that journalism like Judah's- in which he takes the time to explore the country, meet people both in positions of power but also in various humble walks of life, testing what he's read against what he's observed, open to nuance- is so worthwhile. I especially recommend chapters 24 and 25, about the origins of the eastern city of Donetsk. Founded as a coal-mining and steel town in the late 19th century by Welsh businessman John Hughes, and originally called Hughesovka, it was renamed Stalin in the early years of the Soviet Union- not as a tribute to the Soviet leader, but because stal is the Russian word for "steel", which was the city's business. It sounds like just about all of post-Soviet Donetsk (this name derives from a tributary of the Don that flows through the city) was bought up by the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov- these years saw the construction of modern apartment buildings, a soccer stadium, and an airport built in time for the European soccer tournament in 2012 (and today lying in ruins), but also the closing of factories, high unemployment, poverty, and growing inequality. Reading these chapters, I was struck by the parallels with the U.S. Rust Belt, an area of the country that was crucial for Trump's election. What's also deeply familiar is that the Ukrainian President Yanukovich, coached by none other than Paul Manafort, used social issues and identity politics (Ukrainian language vs. Russian language, whose grandparents did what during World War II) to divide people while perpetuating the same inequality and oligarchic corruption that he claimed to be fighting against. For a guy like Manafort, all of our countries were the same mark, and it sounds like he used the same formula everywhere he went: find the petty, ephemeral things that people bitch at each other about, divide people against each other, offer populist rhetoric, and maintain the corrupt system exactly the way it is. Ah, the fruits of an elite Catholic education. Another thing that's commendable about Judah's account is his attempt to understand the perspectives of people in eastern Ukraine, including those who supported the separatists- he treats desperate people who reached for an extreme solution with empathy rather than contempt, which is probably something many of us could learn from. The separatist leaders themselves are a different story, and come across as self-styled ideologues on their own deluded trips, quoting "philosophers" like Alexander Dugin and saying things like "Ukrainians are Russians who refuse to admit their Russian-ness"; but others are people with genuine struggles, additionally terrified by the Russian media's coverage of the revolution (the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk, was/is saturated by Russian media, and a friend of mine who was there in 2014 told me that it was impossible to watch that coverage every day and take the side of the Maidan protestors), as a U.S.-backed neo-Nazi coup in faraway Kyiv. Judah reminds us that we can hold two ideas simultaneously: we can try to understand people whose legitimate struggles led them to embrace an extreme political solution, and we can also condemn the purveyor of that solution. In this case that means placing the blame for the war in Ukraine exactly where it belongs- on Russia. Speaking of Nazis, another worthwhile chapter is 31, which discusses the Azov Battalion- yes, those guys with the Wolfsangel on their uniforms. Judah traces their development from a right-wing political organization in Kharkiv called Patriot of Ukraine to a self-organized battalion once the Russian invasion began in the east. There were many of these battalions, militias that sprang up in the wake of the Russian invasion, at a time when the Ukrainian military was ill-equipped. And while Azov effectively defended the port city of Mariupol, a city that could have allowed Russia to create a land bridge to Crimea, they obviously didn't do Ukraine any favors in terms of public perception. But read over the entire chapter, and I think you'll find that Judah very effectively debunks the idea that the group is in any way representative of the Ukrainian revolution:In terms of winning the war for public opinion, the Azov battalion and the charge of Ukrainian neo-Nazism, fascism and extreme nationalism all combine to make Ukraine's Achilles' heel. Small elements of truth have painted, and allowed the Russian media and their Western fellow travelers to paint, an utterly distorted picture of the whole. In the general election of October 2014 Ukraine's far-right parties flopped. In electoral terms they are insignificant compared to their strength in Hungary, France or Italy, for example. And yet, many Westerners do not see this. Many also do not see that much of the Russian propaganda aimed at depicting Ukraine as a kind of Third Reich reincarnated is a sort of displacement activity. It is, after all, Russia which is in the grip of nationalistic euphoria and whose once nascent democracy has died as people rally round its one and only unchallenged leader.The brief chapter 32 reminded me that Eric Hoffer's The True Believer is as relevant as it ever was. Judah meets a former French military officer by the name of Castel, who made a living in French Guiana as an Amazon tour guide before showing up in Ukraine. How many other Oswalds are out there longing to do something, be someone, just waiting to be healed by ideology, convinced of a noble crusade? Where else will they wash up, in this strange century of ours?For Castel, the rebel Donbass cause is a noble crusade, which he has joined with the zeal of those foreigners who once flocked to the cause of the Spanish Republic. Everything he told me and believes about Ukraine has been said by the Kremlin's propaganda machine, but anything that counters this narrative is regarded as Western propaganda serving the interests of the American military-industrial complex...millions of Westerners also share some or all of his beliefs. They are the point where the worldview of the extreme right meets that of the extreme left. This is why among the foreigners fighting for the rebels in Ukraine there are modern-day fascists ranged alongside extreme leftists who believe they are participating in a new and glorious communist revolution. In this ideological confusion communist flags fly alongside ones depicting Christ. There is no inkling that maybe Putin believes in none of this and in one thing only: power.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Mr. Judah travels the length and breath of Ukraine probing what is beneath the surface. After the Maidan demonstrations, the Russian annexation of the Crimea along with the subsequent support of separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) the future of Ukraine is in peril. Page xv (my book, a cemetery near Poland)) Every tomb tells a story, but even more than that every memorial, or at least the more recent ones, is still fighting the history wars for those who fell for their cause. Over here ar Mr. Judah travels the length and breath of Ukraine probing what is beneath the surface. After the Maidan demonstrations, the Russian annexation of the Crimea along with the subsequent support of separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) the future of Ukraine is in peril. Page xv (my book, a cemetery near Poland)) Every tomb tells a story, but even more than that every memorial, or at least the more recent ones, is still fighting the history wars for those who fell for their cause. Over here are the men of the Austro-Hungarian army who died fighting the Russians in the First World War. Up here are the Poles who died fighting the Ukrainians when it was over, and next to them are their Ukrainian enemies. Here are the people murdered by the Soviets in 1941. Here are the Soviets who died fighting the Nazis. Here is a monument to the local Ukrainian SS Division. Here are the other Ukrainians who fought with the Nazis, against them, against the Poles again and then against the Soviets. Nothing is entirely clear-cut. Ukraine is made up of many people of mixed Ukrainian and Russian heritage. Through-out Ukraine there is a constant switch between both languages, and there is also a blended version of Ukrainian/Russian. Historically Ukraine has been very polarized in its confrontations. After the First World War, Ukrainians fought both Polish and Russian invaders. Western Ukraine was part of Poland and Eastern Ukraine part of the Soviet Union. In the 1930’s millions died from famine (the Holodomor) under Stalin’s modernizations plans. In the Second World War, some Ukrainians fought with the Nazis, others with the Red Army, and still others for an independent Ukraine. And in the middle of all this were the Jews – and their plight was so horrendous that hardly any are left. After the end of the Second World War the ethnic cleansing continued under Stalin with Poles being forcibly removed from “Ukraine” and Ukrainians removed from “Poland”. So all these memory scars are bubbling in the current war with Russia’s Putin. Ukraine is very low in the Transparency International Global rankings for corruption for 2016 (# 131); the same as Russia and behind countries like Sierra Leone and Pakistan. Corruption is at such a level that if a bribe is not accepted you may be murdered. The Ukraine’s extreme right-wing with its’ Neo-Nazi outlook and paraphernalia is great propaganda for Putin to illustrate the Fascist-Nazi outlook of Ukraine – and gives ammunition (literally) as to why Russia should intervene and annex this “fanatical state”. The irony of this is that Russia itself is upping its own nationalist rhetoric, and whatever existed of a democratic media is rapidly disappearing. The problem with the xenophobic Ukrainian right-wing is that they are the ones most willing to fight to stop the Russian encroachment – and many paramilitary units are forming on both sides of the border. Page 166 Putin’s problem was to persist in believing, as he said, when Crimea was annexed: “We are not just close neighbours, we are essentially, as I have said more than once, a single people.” In other words, he could not bring himself to see that what might have been true long ago ( and many Ukrainians would disagree even with that) was no longer true now for most Ukrainians, and by starting what he had done he was making it even less true than it was before. By turning millions of hitherto friendly Ukrainians into enemies Putin might have won Crimea but the cost was losing Ukraine. This book is a unique and personal exploration of the current situation in Ukraine. There are many Ukrainians who want no part of Putin’s Russia – and there are others who admire his strong-arm tactics. And many Ukrainians want no part of the E.U. as well, which is viewed as soft, Gay, and immigrant friendly. All of this contrasts with a growing Ukrainian nationalism.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    As an American, I can safely vouch for my ignorance of the state of affairs in whole sections of the Earth. While I consider myself reasonably well-informed, my job does not require an extensive knowledge of world affairs, and for the most part American news understandably focuses on stories that are of interest to most Americans. Like how much Donald Trump pays for his hair weave. But one night I was watching the news and my young daughter walked in while the news was briefly focused on Russia's As an American, I can safely vouch for my ignorance of the state of affairs in whole sections of the Earth. While I consider myself reasonably well-informed, my job does not require an extensive knowledge of world affairs, and for the most part American news understandably focuses on stories that are of interest to most Americans. Like how much Donald Trump pays for his hair weave. But one night I was watching the news and my young daughter walked in while the news was briefly focused on Russia's efforts to annex Crimea. She asked me to explain what was going on, and to my shame I realized that I couldn't even start. I was vaguely aware of the Maidan Revolution in 2014 in Ukraine and I knew of Vladimir Putin's cynical attempts to re-annex Crimea. But beyond that, my knowledge of Ukraine was limited to my childhood "RISK"-playing days. In an attempt to remedy my narrow perspective, I picked up Tim Judah's "In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine." Tim Judah's book can go a long way toward remedying even the most casual reader's lack of knowledge of Ukraine - a better-researched but more-depressing book is hard to imagine. Ukraine, for lack of a better word, is broken. Judah, a political analyst for The Economist and author of well-reviewed books on Kosovo and the Serbs, takes a journalist's approach with "In Wartime." The book is almost a travelogue as Judah has divided the book into sections that correspond to the geographic regions of the country, which may be the most logical way to try to understand this war-torn country, given that it lies between some of the biggest powers in Eurasia - Russia to the East, the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the West, and Poland to the Northeast. Only the Black Sea to the south offers a safe border. One would be hard-pressed to find a country more perfectly situated to be the hot spot for European-Russian conflict. As Judah explains as he tours the country and talks to dozens of people, both from the downtrodden and the connected, "Ukraine" is a fairly odd concept. While it's clear who a German is, or if you're English, it's not clear who a Ukrainian is. A Ukrainian from the city of Lviv in the West is much more likely to have European sympathies and a Polish cultural heritage than a Ukrainian from Lugansk to the East, a few miles from the Russian border. In addition to being divided by language and culture, the regions of Ukraine are also riven by the belief that only they are doing their part, but the criminals and thieves from the other parts of the country are coasting on their efforts. As one frustrated politico explains, it's hard to pay for schools when nobody pays their taxes, which they do not pay because the government can't provide the basic necessities of life, like schools. When you add the confounding political vacuum left by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of the kleptocracy that has elevated corruption to a systemic art form, 2014's ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, and the economic collapse caused by the Russian invasion of Crimea, you see a country that is not functioning in any modern sense. A teacher must pay a bribe to get a teaching job. Judges are bribed to put business competitors in jail. Commercial litigation is won by whoever pays the most under the table. Raise your voice to complain, and you might not live out the month. We hear in the U.S. about the collapse in trust in institutions, but in Ukraine there are no institutions to trust in the first place. While Judah focuses on the people living and fighting in today's Ukraine, he rounds out the book with a high-level review of Ukrainian history, giving just enough background for the non-initiated reader like myself to understand the context of Ukraine's problems. And that context is essential, as otherwise you would throw up your hands and say the whole country had gone insane. While I cannot say that "In Wartime" is an essential read, it is an important one for anyone who wishes to understand their world a little better. Judah has done a noble service by bringing the stories of this war-torn land to light, so we can better understand the human cost of the headlines we all too often skim over.III

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lance Charnes

    The war in Ukraine still stutters on three years after its beginning following the 2013-4 Euromaidan rebellion that brought down that country's kleptocratic president. We in the West don't hear about it anymore unless the chronic disease becomes acute, such as the recent exchanges of shelling in the east. Even when the war in the Donbass was blazing hot and fast on our TV screens back in 2014-5, all most of us west of the Danube ever knew about it was framed in the larger U.S.-versus-Russia geop The war in Ukraine still stutters on three years after its beginning following the 2013-4 Euromaidan rebellion that brought down that country's kleptocratic president. We in the West don't hear about it anymore unless the chronic disease becomes acute, such as the recent exchanges of shelling in the east. Even when the war in the Donbass was blazing hot and fast on our TV screens back in 2014-5, all most of us west of the Danube ever knew about it was framed in the larger U.S.-versus-Russia geopolitical game. In Wartime presents the background behind the shaky cell-phone footage of burning buildings and dying men. It tries to answer the great question that underlays all the political and military wrangling: how did Ukraine, a nation that should be so rich, end up being such a basket case? In a series of essays organized by region, the author assembles the depressing but convincing answer: the state of arrested chaos in Ukraine today is not only normal but practically inescapable, given the nation's grim history over the past two centuries. Like many other central and eastern European nations, Ukraine has been repeatedly invaded, partitioned, and had its borders shift hundreds of miles; it has alternately repressed and been repressed by a series of other nations and peoples; it's known revolts, short-lived breakaway "republics" from across the political spectrum, civil war, world war, massacres, pogroms, and two devastating man-made famines; and it's been misruled by tyrants and thieves both foreign and home-grown for centuries. The current state of the nation would be familiar to the great-grandparents of today's combatants. Tim Judah, the Balkans correspondent for The Economist, has seen all this before, in the benighted former Yugoslavia as it spectacularly committed suicide in the 1990s. He knows how to navigate this kind of broken ground, who to talk to, what questions to ask. He talks to both officials and common citizens, the young and the old, the well-off and the poor. Through these interviews, we get an affecting portrait of a people that's tired of the fighting, can't see their way out of it, but can still glimpse some hope for the future, even though they can't agree on how that hope will arrive. Judah writes like a journalist. The many essays that make up this book read like extended human-interest features in a magazine like The New Yorker. The effect is pointillistic: a quote here, a poignant sight there, a bit of history to explain a particular point, some fact-checking. When you pull back, the dots become a picture. He reports what his interviewees say, but he later debunks their more egregious lies and fantasies (which are distressingly common; weaponized history and fake news are like air there, especially in the eastern part of the country). For a book called In Wartime, there's remarkably little war reporting. We're well into the second half of the book before we arrive at the front as it existed in late 2015. That's fitting in a way. It seems the actual fighting is almost beside the point; the real action is in the posturing and issuing of manifestos and spinning of narratives that are long on grievance and short on substance or strategy. Still, if you're looking for a blow-by-blow of battles and weapons and which militias did what, you won't find it here. Also on the negative side of the ledger: the pictures are too few, too small and uncaptioned, and there's no index worthy of the name, which makes referring back to a name or incident very hard, indeed. There's no uplift in this book. When you finish the last page, you'll be ready to wash your hands of the place and write it off as an irredeemable mess. Other reviewers have criticized this book for not having a single throughline. It does, but that throughline is so bleak that you may wish it wasn't there at all. As an easily readable guide to one of the globe's intractable conflicts, though, In Wartime is an excellent resource to get you started.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    From one of the finest journalists of our time comes a definitive, boots-on-the-ground dispatch from the front lines of the conflict in Ukraine. Ever since Ukraine s violent 2014 revolution, followed by Russia s annexation of Crimea, the country has been at war. Misinformation reigns, more than two million people have been displaced, and Ukrainians fight one another on a second front the crucial war against corruption. With "In Wartime," Tim Judah lays bare the events that have turned neighbors ag From one of the finest journalists of our time comes a definitive, boots-on-the-ground dispatch from the front lines of the conflict in Ukraine. Ever since Ukraine s violent 2014 revolution, followed by Russia s annexation of Crimea, the country has been at war. Misinformation reigns, more than two million people have been displaced, and Ukrainians fight one another on a second front the crucial war against corruption. With "In Wartime," Tim Judah lays bare the events that have turned neighbors against one another and mired Europe s second-largest country in a conflict seemingly without end. In Lviv, Ukraine s western cultural capital, mothers tend the graves of sons killed on the other side of the country. On the Maidan, the square where the protests that deposed President Yanukovych began, pamphleteers, recruiters, buskers, and mascots compete for attention. In Donetsk, civilians who cheered Russia s President Putin find their hopes crushed as they realize they have been trapped in the twilight zone of a frozen conflict. Judah talks to everyone from politicians to poets, pensioners, and historians. Listening to their clashing explanations, he interweaves their stories to create a sweeping, tragic portrait of a country fighting a war of independence from Russia twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR." This book is a series of short stories, many written from a journalists point of view about war torn Ukraine. The book begins by providing a map and a brief history of the country. There are also stories from locals about living in the country turning war time and how being on the home front effected them. The book also contains interviews with a variety of different people including normal citizens and local leaders. The authors also provides a great deal of historical research and a huge amount of photos throughout the book. I have to say that because of the context of the book, the contents are graphic at times, as one would expect from a book titled wartime stories. I think this is an important topics and an important books; this is the first book I have read about Ukraine and I have to say it did open my eyes more to what was actually happening and has happened in the past. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Keen

    I had no idea that this guy is Ben Judah's father. Good writing clearly runs in the family. Judah tackles this subject from a number of interesting angles and as result he has produced an incredibly refreshing and accessible summary of the Ukraine. You realise that from Ukrainian independence in 1991, the Orange revolution of 2004, Maidan revolution of 2014 and eventually the war, the country has never really gelled well together as one nation and on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it I had no idea that this guy is Ben Judah's father. Good writing clearly runs in the family. Judah tackles this subject from a number of interesting angles and as result he has produced an incredibly refreshing and accessible summary of the Ukraine. You realise that from Ukrainian independence in 1991, the Orange revolution of 2004, Maidan revolution of 2014 and eventually the war, the country has never really gelled well together as one nation and on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it is an incredibly complex country of many factions. He talks about the power of the media, the so called Info wars, propaganda, particularly in TV that has manipulated and deceived so many, something that is mentioned to a lesser extent in Ostrovsky’s “The Invention of Russia”. Judah emphasizes the importance of history and historical precedence in the shaping and status of the Ukraine today. He traces the origins back, using examples such as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that effectively saw Stalin and by extension the Soviets as allies of Hitler from 1939-41 until Hitler broke that pact by invading Russia. Judah shows that it’s this revisionism and the ignoring of huge chunks of history like this, that can shape and distort historical facts into dangerous tools for those in power. Stalin’s murderous collectivisation and dekulakization policies that would eventually lead to the Holodomor. In spite of more than 3 Million deaths it’s scarcely acknowledged in the country today, as it throws up too many disturbing and uncomfortable truths that shames Russia leadership and others with vested political interest. We see how complex and fascinating the history of Ukraine really is. So many areas of the country were formerly parts of other nations, not just of the USSR, but of Poland and the Austro-Hungarian empire, which comes with obvious problems in terms of trying to unite them under one country. Various people see themselves primarily as Jews, Russians or Poles before calling themselves Ukrainian. Poland, Belarus and Nazi Germany all play a part in the geo-political back and forth over recent centuries. Lviv for instance was once the third biggest city in Poland from 1918-1939. He also talks to people from Bessarabia, which has a puzzling history, a strange existence and an uncertain future for its divided population. The story of Donetsk was interesting, in 1870 a Welshman, John Hughes and around 150 other Welsh specialists set sail for Russia, where they decided to mine in the Donbas, the village that grew up around the mining was initially named Hughesovka after him and was only changed to Stalino after the Russian Revolution and didn’t become Donetsk until 1961. Judah talks to artists, activists, politicians and many ordinary citizens about their thoughts, feelings and opinions on their country with some absorbing and varied results. Luhansk, Crimea, Kiev and Chernobyl are also given some thought provoking coverage. In so many ways the majority of the people living in Ukraine seem just as lost and doomed as those in Russia. This a story of revolutions, propaganda and probably more than anything ignorance and corruption, incompetent and venal leaderships and bullying oligarchs, like Russia, the Ukraine seems destined to be stunted and ruined by corruption for many years to come yet.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    This is a grim and vivid human portrait of a society drained by years of war and corruption. “In Wartime” is a reminder that war is not only fought in the Middle East. From interviews with civilians, poets, political scientists and a wide range of people who have been caught up in the conflict Mr. Judah, a distinguished journalist, has written a timely account of life in Ukraine since March 2014. The book opens in a taut and informative first person account as he makes his way across Ukraine, fr This is a grim and vivid human portrait of a society drained by years of war and corruption. “In Wartime” is a reminder that war is not only fought in the Middle East. From interviews with civilians, poets, political scientists and a wide range of people who have been caught up in the conflict Mr. Judah, a distinguished journalist, has written a timely account of life in Ukraine since March 2014. The book opens in a taut and informative first person account as he makes his way across Ukraine, from Lviv in the west, south of Odessa, Bessarabia and Donetsk in the east, and tells the stories of people he meets and delivers a rare glimpse into the reality behind the headlines. This civil war which began in the wake of the Maiden Revolution was secondary to the fact that lives were getting worse in a country that was hardly poor, but it was a country so rife with corruption it was going to the dogs and civilians were suffering. A huge numbers of people have now fled the country, mostly the educated young, leaving in their wake and economic death. If the author’s aim was to let us know what Ukraine feels like today, he succeeded through personal stories and a historical reality check. The main strength in this book is in its detail work, its pathos and in the violence described. Mr. Judah also explains what happened in the region during WW11 and the important connection to the present day. There is a lot to this book and is a challenge to follow the author criss-crossing the country, although at intervals the author added maps to locate us, I thought it wise to have my Atlas open on Ukraine just the same. What also piqued my interest immensely were numerous photos of people and events that were added that reinforced everything. At the end of the book we have notes of explanation and sources as references. This book is ambitious in scope, thoughtful, effective, fast-paced and very topical. Mr. Judah is a war correspondent that covered the Balkans wars for the Economist in the 1990’s. “In Wartime” is drawn from his experience during that conflict. I received this book for free from “Blogging for Books” via Edelweiss for this honest and unbiased review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Swystun

    This was an interesting read in terms of style. Judah blends his knowledge of European history with skills in modern journalism and brings to life Ukraine's frustrating past and troubling present with personal profiles. This is a country that has never really been a country. It has been a pawn between East and West and a strategic buffer zone. Since achieving independence it has sadly squandered the chance to be truly independent and important. Instead it has suffered from incompetence, corrupti This was an interesting read in terms of style. Judah blends his knowledge of European history with skills in modern journalism and brings to life Ukraine's frustrating past and troubling present with personal profiles. This is a country that has never really been a country. It has been a pawn between East and West and a strategic buffer zone. Since achieving independence it has sadly squandered the chance to be truly independent and important. Instead it has suffered from incompetence, corruption and external meddling. Judah takes us through the Maidan Revolution to Crimea to the conflict on the eastern border. What fascinates me is Russia's clandestine, indirect and direct interference. To many in Russia "Ukraine was like 'a kit', made artificially at Russia's will and in accordance with Russia's geopolitical interests." The evidence is compelling that Russia has found "even more ways to spread poison, lies and conspiracy theories." Chief among them is the propaganda used by Russians suggesting Ukrainian politicians and society are overwhelmingly fascist. The first thing Russia rebels (many being Russian regular soldiers) did in 2014 was to take over local tv and transmission facilities when they took Ukrainian territory. They strove to control this narrative. Even Putin has spoken of fascism in Ukraine drawing a direct line to Stepan Bandera during World War Two. Putin exploited an opening that resonated with older people both in Russia and Ukraine. This was made possible because, "One of the great failings of the modern Ukrainian state is that it has never been able to create an all-encompassing post-Soviet narrative of modern Ukrainian history that was broadly accepted by most, if not all." Many in Russia believe the collapse of the USSR created an artificial border between the two countries rather than recognizing Ukraine could and should be its own nation. The Holodomor, The Galician Division, and Ukraine's shifting alliances in WW2 cannot be agreed among Ukrainians and this contributes to the nation's current weaknesses. The author does a great job of illustrating this history through the stories of real people. These vignettes are compelling, shocking and emotional. It takes the theories and macro-analysis and humanizes the conflict. The early days of Ukraine's chaotic response to Russian annexation and invasion is well portrayed. The nearly comic volunteer battalions betrayed the fact that the Ukrainian military was (and is) nowhere near an effective force. Granted, improvements have been made in the past two years but for this to resolve itself Western nations have to express more outrage and send more real support (not just tents and socks). The summary is clear. Ukraine is a confusing place comprised of competing interests, divisions and conflicts. Judah previously reported on The Balkans and draws may comparisons to that messy mosaic. Further, until we recognize that Russia has invaded this will continue to be a dicey sideshow rather than a clear Russian strategy of attempting to unite the former Soviet Union. Everyone should recognize this for what it is and that is Maskirovka or Russia's military doctrine of deception and denial. While that external force destabilizes Ukraine, Ukrainians themselves do a great job of deceiving and denying amongst themselves.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I received this as a free ARC through librarything from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, I also misplaced it for a few weeks so it took me longer to finish than I would have liked. The pros of this book are simple, but that doesn't make them unimportant. For starters, it sheds light on a confusing and ongoing battle in the Ukraine that has received very little press after the annexation of Crimea by Russia. This is done in a journalistic style that is, in my opinion, I received this as a free ARC through librarything from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, I also misplaced it for a few weeks so it took me longer to finish than I would have liked. The pros of this book are simple, but that doesn't make them unimportant. For starters, it sheds light on a confusing and ongoing battle in the Ukraine that has received very little press after the annexation of Crimea by Russia. This is done in a journalistic style that is, in my opinion, necessary to the topic at this point in time. There is very little in the way of personalizing, emotionalizing, or otherwise attempting to sway the audience. It's straight facts, as they are perceived/ interpreted by the author and the people whom he interviewed. For that reason, I'd say that this piece would make an excellent resource for someone studying the area. Political climate aside, it also gives insight into the economic situation of the country, and not just the overall wealth or lack there of as it pertains to the country as a whole. The reader also gets an idea of what it's like for the people actually living there and how they get by on a day to day basis. Finally, it was quite interesting to learn how the people of the Ukraine see themselves: some as Ukranians, some as Russians, and some as something else entirely. There are a few cons to this book though. Because of the nature of the subject matter, the book itself is a little confusing. It's nice that he stays in the same towns, for the most part, in each section, but the jumbled nature of the war (?), conflict (?), predicament (?), whatever moniker you'd like to give it leads each chapter and section to be a little disorderly. I'm not sure if this is because the people he interviewed in each section weren't all on the same side, despite not necessarily taking part in the fighting, but regardless it made things a little difficult to follow at times. Additionally, and this is just a personal pet peeve, it really bothered me when names were split between lines, and I don't mean first name on one and surname on another. I understand that Eastern European names are long, at times, and can be difficult for people who aren't familiar with the language, but that's all the more reason not to hyphenate a name and split it between two lines. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this as reference material, both for people studying the area and for people planning a trip to the country.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Keytelynne

    Before reading In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine, I did not realize how little I knew about Ukraine and the Eastern European regions most effected by population displacement during World War II. When I was in Germany, I heard more about Ukraine and the political situation there than I have while in the U.S., but I really did not know the background of the issues or what the issues really even were. I have only read one other novel about Ukraine, and that novel focused on finding mass graves in Uk Before reading In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine, I did not realize how little I knew about Ukraine and the Eastern European regions most effected by population displacement during World War II. When I was in Germany, I heard more about Ukraine and the political situation there than I have while in the U.S., but I really did not know the background of the issues or what the issues really even were. I have only read one other novel about Ukraine, and that novel focused on finding mass graves in Ukraine from WWII but did not focus on how those events occurred. Tim Judah’s writing is very easy to digest. I’m learning to really love novels written by journalists. The writing is easy to follow and comprehend. I am learning to move from the academic writing style of discussing every minute detail to synthesizing what I’m trying to say, and Judah does this with ease. I studied global migration, and even I did not realize just how much movement there was during World War II and after with the parceling up of Europe. Judah does an excellent job of addressing these movements and the effect they are having on current political relations and movements today. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Holodomor prior to this novel. How is it that a man-made famine that killed millions is not covered in U.S. World History books? How do we learn from the past if we do not have knowledge of events like these? I felt woefully uneducated about so many of the topics Judah discussed, and I highly recommend this novel as a way to educate oneself about the issues effecting Ukraine and Eastern Europe. I received this novel for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nate Rabe

    Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. All pretty obscure places and over the years I had only kept across the broadest of headlines. But as there is so much talk these days about Trump and Russia and Manafort and Trump and Manafort and Ukraine I decided to pick up Tim Judah's book to learn something. And I must say now that I've finished I do have a much better understanding of not just what's at stake for both sides but how over the centuries we've got to this point. I really liked it from that perspecti Ukraine, Crimea and Russia. All pretty obscure places and over the years I had only kept across the broadest of headlines. But as there is so much talk these days about Trump and Russia and Manafort and Trump and Manafort and Ukraine I decided to pick up Tim Judah's book to learn something. And I must say now that I've finished I do have a much better understanding of not just what's at stake for both sides but how over the centuries we've got to this point. I really liked it from that perspective. But there was something stopping me from REALLY enjoying the book and at this stage all I can say is its Judah's partisan view. He's clearly pro-Ukranian and his presence as a voice sometimes interferes with the voices of the people he is interviewing. All in all, though, very much worth your time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom TG

    Tim Judah paints a great introductory picture of the complexities of modern Ukraine by weaving together the voices of ordinary and extraordinary people from across the country. Rather than focusing on the brass in Kiev, Judah opts to explore the more contested areas which westerners would consider rather quirky - from the Bessarabian outposts of Bolgrad and Izmail in the far Southwest, through to villages and cities on either side of the ceasefire line in the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts. For con Tim Judah paints a great introductory picture of the complexities of modern Ukraine by weaving together the voices of ordinary and extraordinary people from across the country. Rather than focusing on the brass in Kiev, Judah opts to explore the more contested areas which westerners would consider rather quirky - from the Bessarabian outposts of Bolgrad and Izmail in the far Southwest, through to villages and cities on either side of the ceasefire line in the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts. For context, these stories are injected with stories and sources from history which help to explain the present situation. A must-read for those interested in the region.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Haley Keller

    I feel as if the war in Crimea is a current event that many outside of the region have lost interest in, though Russia and Ukraine continue to fight each other in Donbass. While I knew about the conflict, before reading this book my knowledge of the historical context of the conflict was very limited. I knew that Ukraine used to be part of the USSR, and I knew that a lot of the borders created when the Soviet Union split up were arbitrary. However, I did not know why Russia would go after Crimea I feel as if the war in Crimea is a current event that many outside of the region have lost interest in, though Russia and Ukraine continue to fight each other in Donbass. While I knew about the conflict, before reading this book my knowledge of the historical context of the conflict was very limited. I knew that Ukraine used to be part of the USSR, and I knew that a lot of the borders created when the Soviet Union split up were arbitrary. However, I did not know why Russia would go after Crimea of all places within Ukraine. I had never even heard of Crimea until 2014. This book was excellent at providing me with a deeper knowledge of what was happening historically when Russia laid claim to Crimea. This book doesn't just explore the current war, it looks backwards to explore what led to this point in history. It was without a doubt written for people like me who have little knowledge of the various regions of Ukraine and what their relationship with Russia is like. It was fascinating to read about what many Ukrainians think about Ukraine and Russia. That was one of the largest strengths of the book: getting the opinions of people involved in the conflict. The author isn't just writing about historical context. Throughout the book, he travels throughout Ukraine and talks to people from a wide variety of regions and demographics. You get a good picture of how much thoughts on Ukraine v. Russia differ among the people of Ukraine. He talks to people who want to be Russian, believing that will bring them prosperity that Ukraine hasn't provided. Others are very anti-Russia for a variety of reasons. Others don't care which country they are a part of as long as the fighting stops and life can go on. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to better understand the current situation in Ukraine. It did a great job of exploring both the historical context that led us to this point and of getting a variety of opinions from the people actually living through this conflict. I received this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. http://hmweasley-blog.blogspot.com/20...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    This is an important read to understand the dangerous times we live in. Mr. Judah clearly illustrates how rapidly societies can disintegrate due to political and information warfare. The polarization of society that occurs when the Media is weaponized can be catastrophic. Admittedly, Ukraine has numerous systemic institutional failures but to witness the shift from harsh rhetoric to kinetic warfare is stunning. The west needs to wake up to the threats of Russian Hybrid Warfare and the vulnerabil This is an important read to understand the dangerous times we live in. Mr. Judah clearly illustrates how rapidly societies can disintegrate due to political and information warfare. The polarization of society that occurs when the Media is weaponized can be catastrophic. Admittedly, Ukraine has numerous systemic institutional failures but to witness the shift from harsh rhetoric to kinetic warfare is stunning. The west needs to wake up to the threats of Russian Hybrid Warfare and the vulnerabilities of our democratic societies.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Very engaging and helpful. Even after reading several Russian and Ukrainian histories, I found the author's stories and layout of the current climate in country to be very helpful in gaining insight on what's happening in Ukraine. He does a great job of choosing his material, explaining just enough of the background, and taking you through the key regions of the country to make it easy for the average person to be able to learn something of how Ukrainians see themselves and the current conflict. Very engaging and helpful. Even after reading several Russian and Ukrainian histories, I found the author's stories and layout of the current climate in country to be very helpful in gaining insight on what's happening in Ukraine. He does a great job of choosing his material, explaining just enough of the background, and taking you through the key regions of the country to make it easy for the average person to be able to learn something of how Ukrainians see themselves and the current conflict. Super glad I read this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    In Wartime Stories by Tim Judah... He takes a complex issue and presents that issue in a readable and interesting way. Mr. Judah draws on both the deep history of the story and contempory personal accounts. He also does a good job of showing how both sides of the conflict manipulate information and emotion to further their cause. This book should be read by anyone interested in the events in the Ukraine.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hugo

    For a great short read on Ukrainian history, politics and insight in the different regional views on this country, I recommend this book! It is written in a conversational style, recounting the conversations the author had with different persons around the country. It is also refreshingly different from the many history books on Ukraine where one drowns in historical details.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katrinak

    Insightful; short journalistic pieces that take place in various regions throughout Ukraine. Provides context to the current day situation, as well as historical, geographical, and cultural information.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    Impressionistic and journalistic, but well-balanced and insightful. Judah tells the stories of a wide variety of Ukrainians, explaining how they have come to see their history and their country so differently.

  22. 5 out of 5

    vittore paleni

    Complicting, helpful, heart-breaking, frustrating and just a little hopeful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    Jumped around too much and assumes the reader has an advance level of knowledge about the Ukraine, Balkan’s and Russia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Irl

    Unique perspective on war in Ukraine with vivid accounts. Well worth reading. Ends a bit suddenly, without any conclusion, perhaps reflecting ongoing war.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Only OK. The author tries to provide some context for modern Ukraine’s situation, but for me the book meandered too much without coming back to that point.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Henk-Jan van der Klis

    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 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.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    What an undertaking! Tim Judah presents an immense amount of work, including interviews with everyday people as well as important local leaders, historical research, and photos, to try to dissect the state of Ukraine today. He takes an extremely confusing subject and renders it less opaque and chaotic by good writing and good journalism. He draws on his own experience reporting on the Balkans in peace and in wartime. In a way, Ukraine is simple, as is Turkey, and countless other countries that are What an undertaking! Tim Judah presents an immense amount of work, including interviews with everyday people as well as important local leaders, historical research, and photos, to try to dissect the state of Ukraine today. He takes an extremely confusing subject and renders it less opaque and chaotic by good writing and good journalism. He draws on his own experience reporting on the Balkans in peace and in wartime. In a way, Ukraine is simple, as is Turkey, and countless other countries that are divided simply by their east/west history/alliance/economy. The east poorer, less developed, less western and western-educated. The west is richer, more western, more developed. Sound familiar? While the people in the west cannot fathom why anyone would not want to prosper, be more like the west, people in the east see economic and ethnic ties with their eastern brother, Russia, as the thing that will save them from themselves. Judah sets the two themes of the book from the very beginning: corruption and info-wars. These two larger issues play pivotal roles in not only the bigger picture of where Ukraine is today, but also the tiny, seemingly insignificant stories of every person Judah speaks with during his travels. There is always corruption, and there is always the past being re-written by someone somewhere with the purpose of owning the present and controlling the future. That people who have lost many in their own families to the famine Stalin engineered to be able to think that I am full of shit when I say Stalin engineered it because I was brainwashed by the anti-Russian, pro-western propaganda... itself shows how impossible some of these impasses are. Who is to say who is right or wrong, which journalist is unbiased, which authority (nation, president, mayor, military) is free of ulterior motives? Who's playing on which side? If it is so easy to just say "America is behind it" or "Russia is behind it," then how can the way people think be changed? Beyond that, if people were there, saw it with their own eyes, heard it from their family members who were there, and STILL manage to believe otherwise, what in the world can make them believe otherwise? Judah chronicles these hopeless impasses and along the way visits honey smuggling, border roads that exist in a country different than the surrounding village, illegal mining, Chernobyl, and much more. In the end, the picture that emerges is similar to that of other large, multi-ethnic, developing (i.e., not so rich) countries in the world: unity is difficult, especially if there is an old tradition of corruption and many outside forces impinging on the country for various reasons. It seems that educating the masses so they do not answer two questions on a voting ballot with opposing answers, for example, should be the way out of such situations, but with corruption and the (mis)information-wars at play in each step of the way, this task seems impossible to achieve. Swaying the masses, dividing them and getting them to forget the past(s) and having them remember a different version, on the other hand, seems equally easy to do. Highly recommended to Ukrainians of any sort, to people who like apples and honey, and to history lovers. Thanks to LibraryThing and the published for a free ARC of this book for my honest review. It was incredibly informative and eye-opening.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jayasree B

    In Wartime by Tim Judah is a book that shines light into Ukraine and the situation that existed post Crimea’s annexure by Russia. If you think that is all there is to the book, then you will be wrong. I thought In Wartime would be about statistics and derivatives - about the so many people who were killed because of this rebellion and the economic, social and political impact due to that, etc. But it is not. In Wartime is insightful. Tim Judah is a reporter and political analyst for The Economist In Wartime by Tim Judah is a book that shines light into Ukraine and the situation that existed post Crimea’s annexure by Russia. If you think that is all there is to the book, then you will be wrong. I thought In Wartime would be about statistics and derivatives - about the so many people who were killed because of this rebellion and the economic, social and political impact due to that, etc. But it is not. In Wartime is insightful. Tim Judah is a reporter and political analyst for The Economist and In Wartime is a collection of experiences. I say experiences, as that was the word that came to my mind. Tim Judah travels through war-torn Ukraine. The east, the west and everywhere else. From Lviv to Chernobyl to Kiev to Bessarabia to Donetsk. He meets people, asks questions and enlightens the reader about the chaos and confusion that reigns during such a turbulent time. All along his journey, he meets a variety of people. From the young to the old. Mothers who have lost their sons, to war veterans. From scholars to poets. There are people from every walk of life who tell Judah their story, the impact the war has had on them and about their Ukraine. Through the book, we get the people’s perspective – of the war, of events in the history of the country, of people they knew. As one reads the book, we hear the unadulterated tales people like Anatoliy, Oleksandra, Mihailo, Olha, or Father Vasily have to say. They are not Tim Judah’s words, but their own. Tim Judah’s In Wartime is an enlightening read. It has been written very well – details aplenty and a lot of research and thought has gone into the book. The book is also interspersed with photographs. More importantly, In Wartime is a book about a country and its people who have survived wars and atrocities and yet, share the hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. For the full review, click here

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Crabtree

    This book was received as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. Mr. Judah's collection of stories from various locations throughout the Ukraine gives the reader an unusual insight into the conflict there in the aftermath of the Russian takeover of the Crimea. With interviews of civilians and soldiers on both sides of the lines, Judah uses these vignettes to tell the larger story of the corruption-riddled Ukraine attempting to hold its own against the Russians and their propaganda machine. For someone lik This book was received as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. Mr. Judah's collection of stories from various locations throughout the Ukraine gives the reader an unusual insight into the conflict there in the aftermath of the Russian takeover of the Crimea. With interviews of civilians and soldiers on both sides of the lines, Judah uses these vignettes to tell the larger story of the corruption-riddled Ukraine attempting to hold its own against the Russians and their propaganda machine. For someone like myself, who can't understand how Ukrainians could be so indifferent to the fate of their country, the backstory is important. Unfulfilled promises of independence, unfulfilled potential due to corruption, unfulfilled futures linked to a poor understanding of the past... all these have contributed to the tragedy of the Ukraine. Whether you are curious about the war in the Ukraine or just want to learn about the human tragedy of war, Judah's excellent writing, his ability to find great subjects and his insights make this a must-read. True, Judah makes lots of references to the Yugoslavian Civil War (which aren't always relevant) and some of the photos could use better captioning, but none of this detracts from the book as a whole. Includes maps, which are essential to understanding the full story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Griswold

    ***I received a free copy from goodreads.com and the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. In Wartime Stories from Ukraine, Tim Judah takes a very interesting approach in that instead of delving into the causes of the war between Ukraine and Russia in a very academic way, he instead talked to the people of Ukraine on all sides—pro-Ukraine, pro-Russia, and dare I say the indifferent because the economic conditions in Ukraine are so poor in several places—they back whomever can make it bet ***I received a free copy from goodreads.com and the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. In Wartime Stories from Ukraine, Tim Judah takes a very interesting approach in that instead of delving into the causes of the war between Ukraine and Russia in a very academic way, he instead talked to the people of Ukraine on all sides—pro-Ukraine, pro-Russia, and dare I say the indifferent because the economic conditions in Ukraine are so poor in several places—they back whomever can make it better. Yet, despite not wanting to write a book on the causes of the Russian-Ukrainian War per se, Judah gets there. Through the stories of average Ukrainians and Russians, the reader is taken through a tangled web of complex ethnic identities, contested land and border areas, failed revolutions, false hopes, and still hopes to give the reader a meaningful and personal story about the war in Ukraine that goes a little deeper than propaganda and accusations on both sides. You don’t find this personal side of war terribly often in an era of political wind-bagging.

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