From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union

From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union

by Katya Cengel
From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union

From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union

by Katya Cengel


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2019 Foreword INDIES Award, Gold for Autobiography & Memoir
Bronze Medal winner in the Independent Book Publishers Awards

In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the late twentieth century was a time of unprecedented hope for democracy and freedom in Eastern Europe. The collapse of the Soviet Union left in its wake a number of independent countries where the Scorpions’ 1990 pop ballad “Wind of Change” became a rallying cry. Communist propaganda was finally being displaced by Western ideals of a free press.

Less than two decades ago, young writers, journalists, and adventurers such as Katya Cengel flocked from the West eastward to cities like Prague and Budapest, seeking out terra nova. Despite the region’s appeal, neither Kyiv in the Ukraine nor Riga in Latvia was the type of place you would expect to find a twenty-two-year-old Californian just out of college. Kyiv was too close to Moscow. Riga was too small to matter—and too cold. But Cengel ended up living and working in both. This book is her remarkable story.

Cengel first took a job at the Baltic Times just seven years after Latvia regained its independence. The idea of a free press in the Eastern Bloc was still so promising that she ultimately moved to the Ukraine. From there Cengel made several trips to Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. It was at Chernobyl that she met her fiancé, but as she fell in love, the Ukraine collapsed into what would become the Orange Revolution, bringing it to the brink of political disintegration and civil war. Ultimately, this fall of idealism in the East underscores Cengel’s own loss of innocence. From Chernobyl with Love is an indelible portrait of this historical epoch and a memoir of the highest order.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640122048
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication date: 11/01/2019
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Katya Cengel is a freelance writer and lectures in the Journalism Department of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She was a features and news writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 2003 to 2011, and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Marie Claire, and Newsweek. She is the author of Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back (Potomac Books, 2018) and Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life (Nebraska, 2012).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1. Latvia
1. Journalists Invade Former Soviet Union
2. A Festive Welcome
3. The Elusive Dane, Friendly Canadian, and Other Post-Soviet Workers
4. Happy Girl and the Flasher
5. Big Bad Accidents
6. Exile
7. The Nice Nazi and the Mean Jew
8. A God Other Than Lenin
9. Everything Is Normali
10. Pagans, Communists, and a Hill of Crosses
Part 2. California/England
11. Back in the USSR
Part 3. Ukraine
12. A Wife Named Katya
13. Downing Vodka Shots at Chernobyl
14. Pirates, Mobsters, and Other Eligible Bachelors
15. The Enemy Outside
16. Heroes and a Woman Named Hope
17. Darkness at Dawn
18. Radioactive Romance
19. Children of Tomorrow
20. Wet Dreams
21. Home Remedies
22. Paddington Bear Gets in a Brawl
23. Atonement
24. Justice
25. London Calling
26. A Western Town in Ukraine
27. An Internal Attack
28. A Chance Engagement
29. Ukraine Accidentally Enters the War on Terror
30. Shallow Graves
31. Homeland
32. Disappearing Acts
33. Taken
34. The Missing
35. Shot in the Butt
Part 4. Kentucky
36. A Revolution
37. Repeat Performance
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