Category: Eastern Europe

Feb 04 2020

Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front by Serhii Plokhy

Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front

With Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front Serhii Plokhy delivers on his subtitle, “An Untold Story of World War II.” Not literally untold of course, but one that lived on mainly in the archived files, official histories, and small print runs of participants’ memoirs. Plokhy’s most useful source from a major publisher was The Strange …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2020/02/04/forgotten-bastards-of-the-eastern-front-by-serhii-plokhy/

Dec 20 2019

Nobody Leaves by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Nobody Leaves

Before he became a famous foreign correspondent, Ryszard Kapuściński wrote a series of astonishing dispatches for the weekly newspaper Polityka from Poland’s small towns and backwaters. Poland in 1959 still bore many visible scars of the war that had ravaged it a decade and a half previous. With Stalin’s death in 1953 the worst excesses …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/12/20/nobody-leaves-by-ryszard-kapuscinski/

Oct 23 2019

Edge of Empires by Donald Rayfield

Edge of Empires

Edge of Empires is a one-volume history of Georgia from the earliest discernible traces through June 2018, a remarkable feat of synthesis and scholarship. In fact, the main text runs just four hundred pages, so in some sense Rayfield positively gallops through four millennia of events in the Transcaucasus and eastern Anatolia. He’s very up …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/23/edge-of-empires-by-donald-rayfield/

Oct 15 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

One of the unusual things that Naomi Novik does in Spinning Silver — so unusual, in fact, that I can’t think of another fantasy book that does it — is to state that some of her main characters are Jews. The first chapter lays out the hints: the characters are moneylenders in a small town whose …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/15/spinning-silver-by-naomi-novik/

May 18 2019

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

So I asked the friend whose copy of Barbarossa I had acquired what the virtues were of an account published in 1965. He replied that Clark wrote clearly and was particularly good on the politicking among the German generals, and between the German high command and the leaders in the field. Thus encouraged, I picked …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/05/18/barbarossa-by-alan-clark/

Apr 27 2019

The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Lady of the Lake brings to a close the extended sequence of novels centering on the Witcher Geralt of Rivera and Ciri the child of destiny, although Sapkowski has written another book of stories, Season of Storms set earlier in Geralt’s personal chronology. The series has its ups and downs: I thought that Baptism …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/27/the-lady-of-the-lake-by-andrzej-sapkowski/

Apr 26 2019

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

I wanted to like The Road to Unfreedom a lot more than I did. The book is billed as a “chronicle of the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America.” Snyder is a well-regarded historian with big works of synthesis to his credit — Bloodlands and Black Earth — plus a volume On Tyranny …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/26/the-road-to-unfreedom-by-timothy-snyder/

Apr 15 2019

Lost Kingdom by Serhii Plokhy

Having recently written a national history of Ukraine, Plokhy turns his attention to the history of the junior eastern Slavic nation, Russia. A fair portion of Lost Kingdom describes how and why my opening sentence would outrage Russian ideologues, rulers and historians. The titles of the book’s sections reveal important aspects of his argument: Inventing …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/15/lost-kingdom-by-serhii-plokhy/

Apr 05 2019

Border by Kapka Kassabova

I’ve been to this border before, though I’ve never been to the particular corner of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece that Kapka Kassabova visits. “But the initial emotional impulse behind my journey was simple: I wanted to see the forbidden places of my childhood, the once-militarised border villages and towns, rivers and forests that had been …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/05/border-by-kapka-kassabova/

Feb 24 2019

Expedition zu den Polen by Steffen Moeller

Steffen Möller’s second genial book about Poland and Germany takes the train ride from Berlin to Warsaw as his frame to share more anecdotes from a life lived in both countries. Möller’s engagement with Poland began more or less on a lark, when he signed up for a language seminar in Krakow in the mid-1990s. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/24/expedition-zu-den-polen-by-steffen-moeller/