In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah

Probably the coolest thing about Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge is it makes a person read books set in, or about countries all over Europe. That’s always been fine with me. Over the years it’s discovered a ton of great books that who knows, had it not been for the European Reading Challenge I might never had read. And trust me, when is that ever a bad thing?

My quest to find yet another book to read for the challenge led me to Tim Judah’s 2015 book In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine. Until it was overshadowed by the tumultuous American election, the conflict in Ukraine seemed to always be in the news. So, when I found an available copy at my public library I helped myself. After a few fits and starts I eventually made my way through it, finishing it last night just before bed.  While perhaps not a page-turning, nevertheless it’s probably the best book out there when it comes to showing just how complex and, well, horribly messed-up the situation has been in Ukraine. Judah travels from one end of the country to another interviewing an almost endless series of people who’ve been involved in, or at least significantly impacted by the ongoing conflict. Like many wars, civil wars and combinations of both, the roots of today’s conflict go deep into the past. As Ukraine struggles define itself as a distinct nation state and plot a political trajectory somewhere between East and West, it must deal with a restive eastern population as well as a resurgent Putinist Russia that sees Ukraine as traditionally part of it homeland.

I’m a sucker for good, on the ground reporting like this. In Wartime reminded me of other books written about Easter Europe like Misha Glenny’s The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War, Lawrence Scott Sheets’ 8 Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Former Soviet Union and last but not least Askold Krushnelnycky’s An Orange Revolution: A Personal Journey Through Ukrainian History. Of course, since I am a sucker for this kind of writing, you’ll be sure to see a more books like this featured on my blog in the coming year.

10 thoughts on “In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah

  1. Pingback: 2016 European Reading Challenge Wrap-Up | Maphead's Book Blog

  2. Given a book I am currently reading, it prompted me to re-read your review with some additional insight. Ukraine offers significant resources to Russia, and I don’t think that they’ll ever let her go. Do you?


    • I’m honored you would re-read my review for insight. I wish I could give you a more enlightening answer than, “right now, I’m not really sure.” But what I lack in insight, perhaps I can make up in honesty.


  3. Pingback: In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah | A Good Stopping Point

  4. Pingback: Five Bookish Links | Maphead's Book Blog

  5. Great take on this one. It took me a minute to get into/through it as well. I agree that it’s probably the best resource for understanding what’s going on there recently, I just found it a bit dry or distracting in some parts. I think I might have to check out 8 Pieces of Empire, that sounds intriguing!


  6. Pingback: About Time I Read It: A Child of Christian Blood by Edmund Levin | Maphead's Book Blog

  7. Pingback: A Reader’s Guide to Eastern Europe | Maphead's Book Blog

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