In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine

There’s so much conflict in the world today. In college, I mostly heard the views of my circle of friends or of my part of Canada. Now, thanks to the internet, we get snippets of the conversation from every point of view. It takes on media bias and has a skew toward certain regions and not others. Though we hear about the conflict in Israel, Egypt, or Ukraine, it seems impossible to identify the facts. It’s even harder to guess what the average person living there thinks of it all.

That’s why I want to review In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah. The Ukrainian immigrant communities in Nova Scotia gather for bright, joyful festivals. The occasional dance or craft exposition keeps their community in my mind, but I have only a vague idea of where Ukraine is on the map. More than geography, I’m interested in what relationship Ukraine has with neighbouring countries and what the average person there thinks or does.

Are you curious about Ukraine?

A free copy of this book came to me from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. When you use them I receive a small payment (at no cost to you) that helps support my family and this blog. Click to read more.

I found In Wartime frank and surprising. Judah talks about how it is not so much the history of a place that shapes its future, but how people perceive that history. While terrible events exist in Ukrainian history the awareness of some of these events among people today is small. Why? According to Judah, it’s a combination of things. Some events have been intentionally minimised; a case of the victors writing history. In other cases, the story is heavily dependent on the background of the person that experienced it. So, depending on details like the ancestry, the line of work or the exact region that a person is from, beliefs about the past and hopes for the future can vary by extremes.

Judah explores Ukraine, region by region, recording the histories and hopes of many people, told from their perspective. There are photos, too, that bring the reader into their homes and workplaces. In one chapter, he described how deadly famines came about, in another he writes about visiting Chernobyl.

Who should read In Wartime?

This is a heavy read. If you’re really interested in sociology, history, and politics this is a fantastic book because In Wartime (Shop Amazon CAN | US) covers all those things and reveals a human layer that is lost in most books on these topics. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Ukraine. Polish up on your knowledge of Ukrainian culture and history, then curl up with a map and In Wartime. It’ll be worth it.

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