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Stunning travelogue from Kaliningrad to Odessa passing through Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Moldova including a bunch of places called in three or four different names at the same time once belonging to Hungary, Romania and former Czechoslovakia.For those who are interested in digging deeper into these fascinating if often forgotten places, the Polish journalist Andrzej Stasiuk travelled on a similar route in his On the Road to Babadag a decade or so later.And yet I have to reckon Between Stunning travelogue from Kaliningrad to Odessa passing through Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Moldova including a bunch of places called in three or four different names at the same time once belonging to Hungary, Romania and former Czechoslovakia.For those who are interested in digging deeper into these fascinating if often forgotten places, the Polish journalist Andrzej Stasiuk travelled on a similar route in his On the Road to Babadag a decade or so later.And yet I have to reckon Between East and West is much much better than the excellent Babadag.The year is 1991 and Anne Applebaum writes with the keen eye of a skilled reporter, the deep knowledge of a masterful historian and the flawless humor of a talented novelist.And, what s , Ms Applebaum who married the Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radek Twitter Sikorski and now entertains herself writing books on Polish traditional cuisinesic transit gloria mundi doesn t make confusion at all She is as knowledgeable about the writings by Bruno Schulz and Gregor von Rezzori as she masters the political and economic intrigues of post communist countries.Either if you re looking for something profound and engaging about that dreadful place named Kaliningrad formerly Koenigsberg or if you want to learnabout the sentimental life of Adam Mickiewicz the poet on whose patriotism Poles and Lithuanians still quarrels for there cannot be anything better than this.PS Just one remark for Anne Applebaum Koenigsberg was heavily bombed and almost completely destroyed by the RAF well before the Red Army conquered the town The author here doesn t mention the British bombing at all and that s a strange omission Between East and West was an interesting read Having some ancestors from these borderlands provided a personal perspective Growing up during the Cold War kept these lands a mystery to me in the USA Now I have taken a glimpse beyond what was once the Iron Curtain, and find it rich in history and peoples. I read this fascinating, haunting book some years ago One of the most fascinating things in this book is how the people, who lived on the eastern edge of Europe the western edge of Russia, never could be too certain in which country they lived For example, she quotes a man in the city of Brest once in Poland, then a few years later in the USSR, and now in Belarus as saying, No one around here knows if he is Belarusian, Polish, RussianThe borders between countries in that region shift I read this fascinating, haunting book some years ago One of the most fascinating things in this book is how the people, who lived on the eastern edge of Europe the western edge of Russia, never could be too certain in which country they lived For example, she quotes a man in the city of Brest once in Poland, then a few years later in the USSR, and now in Belarus as saying, No one around here knows if he is Belarusian, Polish, RussianThe borders between countries in that region shifted so often in the 20th century PRE REVIEW Brilliant Absolutely brilliant There are few words needed to recommend such a work, but I feel like I d fare better if I wrote them even if just for myself However, it s currently 2 47 in the morning, and as I m putting the book down, I m also falling asleep REVIEW This historian is an exceptional writer Or this writer is an exceptional historian The line is so blurred between these two statements that I can t decide Better people than me might do it I, however, enjoy li PRE REVIEW Brilliant Absolutely brilliant There are few words needed to recommend such a work, but I feel like I d fare better if I wrote them even if just for myself However, it s currently 2 47 in the morning, and as I m putting the book down, I m also falling asleep REVIEW This historian is an exceptional writer Or this writer is an exceptional historian The line is so blurred between these two statements that I can t decide Better people than me might do it I, however, enjoy lingering in this halo of uncertainty, because what I get in return is the perfect combination, the one that I always look for and seldom find Anne Applebaum is one of those who can make words flow off paper, her writing is so real and so surreal that at times I found myself searching online for stories of long dead, unknown people, just so I could prove to myself that we re still talking about our world Applebaum does what I, personally, love in a historian brings history down to a very human level At times, you won t be able to extract out of a statistic of deaths in Ukraine the human element, the pain that they felt, their families felt, the loss of people s communities or the loss of national identity that is why, it takes a very special kind of writer to mine that information for you, and present it in a clear way it s like trying to explain the truth to a child, through an anecdote Applebaum does this every single page of this book, and the play between the present moment and the past, the living and the dead, the old and the new, is perfectly balanced to give the reader as accurate an image as possible with regards to the scene The acuity that the author s eye is capable of and the alertness with which she picks up the smallest details about particular people or societies is unbelievable Just to give you a taste, the book is filled with lines such aspeople moved slowly, thought slowly in Chernivitsi , the city seemed caught in a vacuum, reluctant to move , it was like an underground current, the exotic subconscious of the cityThese figments all come from the same chapter, almost the same page Apart from brilliant trivia, the book also gives you HD insight into the lives of people and places that you might have otherwise missed I do have to say that I was very surprised at the way Applebaum portrayed Romanians, but I m also not sure if I am in the position to quarrell with her opinions I myself know Romanians the way she described her character, but the Bucharest born man who helped her seemed to embody a whole nation, described as such a liar that he doesn t remember his own truth, a cheater, untrustworthy and overall fishy I will admit the faults of my own people any day, but I felt like the attack and the ridicule werepowerful on behalf of Romanians I d like a person of another nationality represented in the book to tell me if they felt the same, because I might just be highly biased towards my own cradle In the end, for all the Romanians that might want to read the book, I leave you with a fragment that made me laugh, a fragment about Iasi, a city in the Moldovan province of Romania, a city which Applebaum refers to asthe oddest place I have ever been toAt that time, the Soviet Union was still intact, Ceausescu was still in power, and Iasi seemed remote and peculiar, like the end of the world I stayed in a vast hotel where there were no other guests The hotel staff kept moving me and my companion from room to room, the better to record our conversations We changed money with an Arab student in the square, but then learned the best currency was not Romanian lei but Kent cigarettes No one knew why Kent cigarettes and not, say, Malboro or Camel that was just what one did in Iasi Once, when we tried to visit a Romanian whose name was known in the West, plain clothes police jumped out of the shrubbery and took our photographs with a large, black Instamatic camera After that, comic strip spies in trench coats and dark glasses followed us everywhere we went To confuse them, we drove around in circles, and then set out from Iasi, driving as fast as we could, toward the Soviet border We screeched to a halt near the blue village, and stopped to have a picnic while the men in trench coats and dark glasses sulked in their car nearby I am dying to know who the Romanian whose name was known in the West was Between East and West is a travelogue of Anne Applebaum s travel from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea at the end of the Iron Curtain and the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union Alternating between descriptions of the history of the land through which she is traveling and narrative of her encounters with the lands inhabitants, Applebaum s book is one of the better examples of I ve read of the political travelogue.If you are interested in this region then this book is a pretty good introd Between East and West is a travelogue of Anne Applebaum s travel from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea at the end of the Iron Curtain and the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union Alternating between descriptions of the history of the land through which she is traveling and narrative of her encounters with the lands inhabitants, Applebaum s book is one of the better examples of I ve read of the political travelogue.If you are interested in this region then this book is a pretty good introduction A poignant journey across the once eagerly contested lands between great European powers subsequently forgotten after their inclusion in the Soviet empire in a time of uncertain transition and giving several examples of the burdens that issues of history, culture, language and religion can pose on the present Though the world Ms Applebaum so masterfully and unforgettably evoked has vanished in the flood of globalisation, but the sentiments survive and the recent resurgence of great power A poignant journey across the once eagerly contested lands between great European powers subsequently forgotten after their inclusion in the Soviet empire in a time of uncertain transition and giving several examples of the burdens that issues of history, culture, language and religion can pose on the present Though the world Ms Applebaum so masterfully and unforgettably evoked has vanished in the flood of globalisation, but the sentiments survive and the recent resurgence of great power politics in this region between the eastern most Baltic and the Black Sea make this an insightful read For a thousand years, the geography of the borderlands dictated their fate, writes Anne Applebaum in her evocative and well written book, Between East and West Across the Borderlands of Europe, which first published in 1994.In the 1991 and 1992, an era of social, political and economic turmoil, Anne Applebaum travelled in the countries of former Soviet Union, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, across the borderlands that constitute Europe s far east landscape The Soviet empire had ended but n For a thousand years, the geography of the borderlands dictated their fate, writes Anne Applebaum in her evocative and well written book, Between East and West Across the Borderlands of Europe, which first published in 1994.In the 1991 and 1992, an era of social, political and economic turmoil, Anne Applebaum travelled in the countries of former Soviet Union, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, across the borderlands that constitute Europe s far east landscape The Soviet empire had ended but nothing else had yet replaced it Longstanding institutions, such as the Communist Party, had vanished Corruption was rampant New politicians constantly replacing old ones The desire for freedom and national sovereignty had raised troubling questions about identity In the next few years, political, cultural and military conflicts shook the territories that used to be part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.The end of the Soviet Union, saw the construction of homelands , a process in which the nationalist elites and intellectuals, mobilised the myths and the images of a homeland, in order to reinforce the depiction of a nation as an ancient community and to give people a sense of belonging Nationalism became attractive and synonymous with decentralization and democratisation and nationalists were considered democratic and progressive heroes.Anne Applebaum take us to a journey into the past and the post Soviet era of Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine She travels us to an area defined throughout its history by colliding empires, cultures and religions Travel here demands a forensic passion, not merely a love of art or architecture or natural beauty, she writes, there are many layers of civilization in the borderlands, but they do not lie neatly on top of one another A traveller can meet a man born in Poland, brought up in the Soviet Union, who now lives in Belarus and he has never left his village This fine book is part straight history, part travelogue and part oral history It recounts the author s solo overland journey along the western border of the former Soviet Union from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea in 1991, shortly after the Soviet Union s collapse She recounts her travels from Kaliningrad to Odessa through the corridor comprised of East Prussia, Lithuania, western Belarus, Moldova and western Ukraine Her purpose was to find evidence that things of beauty had survived war, c This fine book is part straight history, part travelogue and part oral history It recounts the author s solo overland journey along the western border of the former Soviet Union from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea in 1991, shortly after the Soviet Union s collapse She recounts her travels from Kaliningrad to Odessa through the corridor comprised of East Prussia, Lithuania, western Belarus, Moldova and western Ukraine Her purpose was to find evidence that things of beauty had survived war, communism, and Russification proof that difference and variety can outlast an imposed homogeneity testimony, in fact, that people can survive any attempt to uproot them These borderlands offer no natural obstacles to conquest other than rivers and forests Over the centuries, part or all of them have been variously controlled or conquered by the Swedes, Tatars, Muscovites, Poles, Lithuanians, Turks, tsarist Russians, Germans, Austro Hungarians, Nazi Germany and the Soviets, among others The borderlands have been home to at least five religions Catholics, Orthodox, Jewish, Moslem and Karaim, and countless ethnic groups, including Estonians, Poles, Galicians, Polesians, Braclavians, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Hungarians, Tartars, Germans, Russians, Czechs, Turks, and others The territory has endured the brutality of World War I, World War II from both Germans and Russians , the massacre of Jews by the Nazis and others, forced deportations or relocations by the Soviets of millions of Poles, West Ukrainians and Balts to Siberia and Central Asia, and the importation of Russian settlers into the territory to replace those deported or relocated The author, who was in her late 20 s at the time of this trip, has the advantage of apparent fluency in Polish and Russian, among other languages Her fluency would have been indispensable in navigating this territory which is not exactly tourist friendly She is an intrepid traveler Transportation is catch as catch can Although she frequently is able to travel by train, she often must travel with privately hired drivers, many of whom are smugglers She also rides in taxis, the back of trucks, and on overcrowded buses, and she even resorts to hitchhiking in the Ukraine Her accommodations range from luxurious but empty hotels to the back seats of cars On one unforgettable evening in Nowogrodek, she is forced to spend the night in an unspeakably filthy apartment with a grotesquely ill old lady who turns out to be a virulent anti Semite The author is Jewish She finds instances of people who have lived under the control of Poland, Germany and Russia, all the while living in the same place She finds historical and literary figures who are claimed as their own by multiple countries One example is the poet Adam Mickiewicz, born in 1798, who is claimed by the Poles, the Belarusians Mickievic , the Lithuanians Mickevicius and the Russians, and who may or may not have been Jewish Along the way the author meets many people from all walks of life, including professors, poets, KGB agents, newspapermen, priests, mourners, Jews, ex Bolsheviks, various slick operators, smugglers, factory managers, prostitutes, and assorted other characters Many of the people she meets are either secretive about their backgrounds or have no sense of their own histories There is a pervasive sense among many of those whom she meets that they will never escape or be able to change their grim surroundings In one revealing exchange between a teacher and her student, the teacher, Yelena, says to her student, Sveta, One or two like you can t change the system Sveta replies, I think there is something to do We can do our best We can try and study and improve ourselves Yelena glares at Sveta and says, You are foolish What do you think will happen when you try to teach well, try to educate your students What if you work hard, study things on your own Your colleagues will become jealous, they will destroy you They will drive you out of your job No one is allowed to be better than anyone else No one is allowed to be better than anyone else Yes, and that is all Our cityis doomed Our city will sink back into the river under the weight of its own stupidity If only we could visit Paris or London The Jews of the borderlands were virtually exterminated by the Nazis and others during World War II Although the book does not focus overly on these events, she writes movingly about the murder of the Jews in her chapter on Radun in Belarus She also points out that the purges, famine and collectivization under Stalin in the 1930 s, which were responsible for the deaths of 14.5 million Ukrainians and Belarusians, were the equivalent of the Holocaust, although they have never been recognized as such in the outside world.The author writes with a maturity of someone much older than her years She has written an excellent and readable account of the history of the Soviet borderlands and her travels within them I wonder if much would have changed if she were to take the same trip again today I strongly recommend this book, and I am looking forward to reading her later books, Gulag A History, and Iron Curtain The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944 1956 {DOWNLOAD PDF} õ Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe º An extraordinary journey into the past and present of the lands east of Poland and west of Russia Rich in surprising encounters and vivid characters, Between East and West brilliantly illuminates the soul of these lands and the shaping power of their past In 1994 Anne Applebaum traveled through the flat lands between Russia and Poland and documented her journey in Between East and West Across the Borderlands of Europe At first glance, it was a different time Communist governments had toppled a few years before and the chaos of transition to democracy pervaded all life But, Applebaum presages what Anne Porter documented in The Ghosts of Europe history casts a long shadow across time Shifting borders, clashing empires, and old conflicts t In 1994 Anne Applebaum traveled through the flat lands between Russia and Poland and documented her journey in Between East and West Across the Borderlands of Europe At first glance, it was a different time Communist governments had toppled a few years before and the chaos of transition to democracy pervaded all life But, Applebaum presages what Anne Porter documented in The Ghosts of Europe history casts a long shadow across time Shifting borders, clashing empires, and old conflicts turn making sense of the borderlands into a daunting challenge.Applebaum performs the task admirably, confirming that the version of her I know from Slate and other venues was already fully formed back then The personal encounters and observations take place on the background of impressive historical research, as Applebaum backs every assertion with rich detail As a good journalist, Applebaum remains consistently respectful of the people she meets Only once does she cross the line and judges, but to pity an ignorant anti Semite can be forgiven Applebaum is Jewish.As she travels from the Russian Kaliningrad to Lithuania to Belarus and down to Odessa, Ukraine, she first organizes her journey by the peoples inhabiting the lands she crosses, then by cities, towns, and villages she passes through Thus in Part One she visits Germans, in Part Two Poles and Lithuanians, and finally in Part Three Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians But even as she describes well a municipality in each chapter, nations and nationalism matterthan the place and characteristics of each place matter only inasmuch as they relate to the shifting national borders Granted, on the backdrop of nationalisms bubbling up after the fall of Communism, the impulse to see the region through the national lens seems understandable Too, in 1994 the concept of place identity wasn t a force it is today But writing so little about the impact of villages and cities themselves, as places, on the people Applebaum meets struck me as a missed opportunity Between East and West was the rare book I read word for word I would have even read the index, had there been one But I almost abandoned it when, after leaving Mukachevo and passing, roughly south eastbound, through Khust, Applebaum miraculously finds herself near Mikov , Andy Warhol s parents village in Eastern Slovakia which is some 230 kilometers 144 miles to the northwest The episode is only a page of text, but the magnitude of the error left a bitter aftertaste of a misplaced gimmick.Save for the one instance of teleportation, Between East and West is the kind of book I want and am planning to write combination travelogue, historic geography, and literary reportage focusing on Central Eastern Europe Rather than being dated, it reveals a striking portrait of a turbulent time in the region