Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe

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Overview

An extraordinary journey into the past and present of the lands east of Poland and west of Russia - an area defined throughout its history by colliding empires, and only now emerging from the clamp of Soviet rule. Traveling from the former Soviet naval center of Kaliningrad on the Baltic to the Black Sea port of Odessa, Anne Applebaum encounters a rich range of competing cultures, religions, and national aspirations as inhabitants of the borderlands attempt to build a future grounded in their ancestral legacies. ...
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Overview

An extraordinary journey into the past and present of the lands east of Poland and west of Russia - an area defined throughout its history by colliding empires, and only now emerging from the clamp of Soviet rule. Traveling from the former Soviet naval center of Kaliningrad on the Baltic to the Black Sea port of Odessa, Anne Applebaum encounters a rich range of competing cultures, religions, and national aspirations as inhabitants of the borderlands attempt to build a future grounded in their ancestral legacies. In reasserting their heritage, neighbors often unearth old conflicts: in Vilnius, a Lithuanian professor charts a historical conspiracy against his language by the Poles, while his Polish neighbors rail against the Lithuanian determination to deny their ancient claims to the city. In Minsk, a young "post-modernist" couple, seeking a rallying point for Belarusian nationalism, piece together cultures and legends to create tradition where none is remembered, while another resident of the city devotes himself to recovering the Jewish culture that once predominated. Rich in surprising encounters and vivid characters, Between East and West brilliantly illuminates the soul of the borderlands and the shaping power of the past.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Traveling 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 Journal
The 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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679421504
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/11/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
A columnist and member of the editorial board of The Washington Post, Anne Applebaum is the author of Gulag: A History, an acclaimed historical account of the Soviet concentration camp system that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Biography

Anne Applebaum is a columnist and member of the editorial board of The Washington Post.

She began working as a journalist in 1988, when she moved to Poland to become the Warsaw correspondent for the Economist. She eventually covered the collapse of communism across Central and Eastern Europe, writing for a wide range of newspapers and magazines.

Returning to London in 1992, she became the Foreign Editor, and later Deputy Editor, of the Spectator magazine. Following that, she wrote a weekly column on British politics and foreign affairs, which appeared at different times in the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and the Evening Standard newspapers. She covered the 1997 British election campaign as the Evening Standard's political editor. For several years, she wrote the "Foreigners" column in Slate magazine.

Her first book, Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe, described a journey through Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus, then on the verge of independence. Her second book, Gulag: A History, narrates the history of the Soviet concentration camp system and describes daily life in the camps. It makes extensive use of recently-opened Russian archives.

Over the years, her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, The Boston Globe, The Independent, The Guardian, Commentaire, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Newsweek, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The National Review, The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review, among others. She has appeared as a guest and as a presenter on many radio and television programs, among them BBC's Newsnight, The Today Progamme, The Week in Westminster, as well as CNN, MSNBC, CBS and Sky News.

Anne Applebaum was born in Washington, D.C. in 1964. After graduating from Yale University, she was a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics and St. Antony's College, Oxford. In 1992 she won the Charles Douglas-Home Memorial Trust award for journalism in the ex-Soviet Union. Between East and West won an Adolph Bentinck prize for European non-fiction in 1996. Her husband, Radek Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer. They have two children, Alexander and Tadeusz.

Author biography courtesy of Anne Applebaum's official web site.

Good To Know

herself:

"I met my husband because he and I decided to drive to the Berlin Wall on the night that it was first opened -- we drove there, together with another friend. Since he's from the East -- he grew up in Poland -- and I'm from the West, we've always liked the symbolism of that encounter."

"It was my foreign husband who finally persuaded me to move back to the United States, in 2002. After 16 years, I'd already reconciled myself to living abroad and had acquired dual citizenship in Britain. I thought of myself as a British journalist -- I'd never worked in the U.S. Now people seem surprised to learn that I was gone for so long." [Note: In 2006, Applebaum moved back to Poland with her husband.]

"If it were practical, I'd probably live in a Polish country house -- it's a 19th-century manor house that my husband and his parents have been restoring for the past decade. It isn't near anything -- it's provincial in the best sense of the word -- so is therefore impractical, but it is enormously satisfying to spend time in an old place that is nevertheless designed the way we wanted it designed. Although it has no architectural or historical significance, it is a house with an unusually calm aura, one that has inspired others -- while researching his own book about the place (The Polish House), my husband discovered that a novel had been written about it in the early 20th century.

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    1. Hometown:
      Poland
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 25, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1986; M.Sc., London School of Economics, 1987; St. Antony’s College, Oxford
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    How Can One Place Be Victimized So Much

    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.

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