Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyTraveling the uncertain land between Eastern and Western Europe, Applebaum recounts her three-month journey and the people she meets, typified by a man who was born in Poland, raised in the Soviet Union and now living in Belarus-yet he has never left his village. The territorial borders of many towns in Eastern Europe have been redrawn so often over the centuries that such villages are called kresy, meaning they belong to no one in particular. The American-born Applebaum, who is the foreign editor of the London Spectator and has residences in Poland and England, shows herself as a journalist of sturdy competence, smart and shrewd. She speaks Polish and Russian and is well read in Eastern European history. Applebaum travels from kresy to kresy in dilapidated private autos she hires, although on occasion she must walk; the few hotels are seedy and homes where she is sometimes invited to sleep aren't markedly more comfortable. But she's not deterred; Applebaum's receptiveness encourages borderlanders to tell her the myriad of ways that political partitioning has subjugated their personal lives, cultural traditions and languages. She in turn explains to us the nationalism motivating these newly independent people as they try to redefine their true heritages. (Oct.)
Library JournalThe borderlands west of Russia, in east central Europe, have endured frequent changes of hegemony. Citizens of one village may think of themselves as Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, or Moldovan regardless of where the current borders are drawn, as Applebaum discovered during her travels and interviews. An American journalist now living in London, she spent the years 1988-1991 as a free-lancer in Poland and revisited the area from which her great-grandparents had emigrated. The narrative proceeds from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to Odessa on the Black Sea, stopping in large cities and small towns; it combines a bit of history from the Middle Ages with tales of contemporary life without the Soviet Union to portray an eclectic mixture of ethnic identity. The vivid descriptions of another way of life would enhance popular collections.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- 1st ed
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Between East and West based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
An interesting nonfiction work. Basically a travelogue of Eastern Europe lands which have been in dispute and turmoil for centuries. Mass slaughter and cultural cleansing by Nazis and Stalinists are the most recent instances of the mayhem that has historically befallen the borderlands. Author Applebaum takes the reader for a journey from the Baltic down to the Crimea and while traveling visits a variety of locales in the borderlands area. Most interesting in terms of the character portrayals and the history of the places she stops in. I enjoyed the book immensely and find that my interest in visiting some of those locales has been piqued. Pick it up and enjoy the author's smooth style and intelligent telling of a corner of the world both magical and horrific.