"In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine", by Tim Judah

In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine - Tim Judah

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