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Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  144 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
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.
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published October 11th 1994 by Pantheon Books
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Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
"Travel here demands a forensic passion, not merely a love of art or architecture or natural beauty; there are many layers of civilisation in the borderlands, and they do not lie neatly on top of one another. A ruined medieval church sits in the site of a pagan temple, not far from a mass grave surrounded by a modern town. There is a castle on the hill and a Catholic church at its foot and an Orthodox church beside a ruined synagogue. A traveler can meet a man born in Poland, brought up in the S ...more
Nov 02, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing
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, Russian…” The borders between countries in that region shift
Lorenzo Berardi
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
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.


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
Vikas Datta
Jun 24, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 19, 2015 Roseb612 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: všem koho oslovily Krvavé země
Tohle je skvělá roadmovie Krvavými zeměmi. Anne Applebaum to vzala skoro přesně napříč územím, které Timothy Snyder popisuje jako Krvavé země. Její cesta se odehrála na začátku devadesátých let, v době bezčasí - Sovětský svaz skončil a nové zřízení zatím nepřišlo. Takové momenty jsou v historii výjimečné a dnes už není možné takovou cestu zopakovat, protože tenhle skoro magický čas zrodu již dávno neexistuje.
Kniha je dělena geograficky podle národností obyvatel (Němci, Poláci, Litevci, atd.) - k
Peter Korchnak
Apr 01, 2013 Peter Korchnak rated it really liked it
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
Jun 19, 2013 John rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mykola Dobysh
Jun 10, 2016 Mykola Dobysh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poland, ukraine, history
Стиль написаного допомагає побачити місце і відчути час. Постійні діалоги з місцевими жителями дають змогу краще зрозуміти всю драматичність історії пограничних територій. Численні звернення до історії міст і містечок, а також земель навколо них чудово заповнили прогалини мого наративу історії цих країв. Книга написана живою мовою, виглядає як щоденник подорожі, але підіймає серйозні питання ідентичності, культури і в певним чином політики (хоча це уже в міру особистих трактувань).
Aug 04, 2010 Nan rated it liked it
Chronicles what seems to have been an arduous journey on the borders of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Romania. While it's not the most engaging material - Applebaum focuses heavily on language as a national/tribal identifier - it is interesting in conjunction with learning a little more about this basically unnoticed (by Americans) section of Europe. While I wouldn't recommend it, I don't want to diss the author with a lower rating. That said, it's very put-downable.
Ruud Meij
Jun 25, 2015 Ruud Meij rated it it was amazing
'Between East and West' is about the journey of Anne Applebaum through 'the Borderlands'. She made this journey - starting in Köningsberg and ending in Odessa - in the beginning of the Ninetees, just after the Wall fell. But the stories collected by Anne Applebaum are remarkebly actual and relevant today, in 2015. There is this paragraph at the end of the chapter 'A Memory', while Anne was interviewing 'an Ukrainian linguist' in Vilnius, that captures the essence of the book, and of the Borderla ...more
Robert LoCicero
Apr 07, 2016 Robert LoCicero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting nonfiction work. Basically a travelogue of Eastern Europe lands which have been in dispute and turmoil for centuries. Mass slaughter and cultural cleansing by Nazis and Stalinists are the most recent instances of the mayhem that has historically befallen the borderlands. Author Applebaum takes the reader for a journey from the Baltic down to the Crimea and while traveling visits a variety of locales in the borderlands area. Most interesting in terms of the character portrayals and ...more
Jul 21, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
An amazing tale of a semi-personal journey. Shortly after the fall of the iron curtain, Ms. Applebaum went on a tour of the lands east of Poland and west of Russia, an area of diverse populations and varied languages. Along the way she explores the history of shifting borders and questioned allegiances that comprise the history of this stretch of land. I couldn't help but have my entire view of the region changed by this book - it is not a static land of borders and languages, but an intriguing ...more
Aug 03, 2012 Pippa rated it really liked it
A bit gruelling at times, but a very important book if you want to understand anything of what happened in these countries, and particularly in the cities that are on borders between countries. Well written and clear thinking.
Jan 21, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
An interesting account of a particular time and place. I would not have been brave enough to do this trip - I am glad she was, and wrote about it.
Jun 15, 2015 Ilona rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, 2015
A trip through the borderlands of Central Europe and Russia, told through the perspectives of twenty or so people of these nations. Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, urban, rural, farmer, peasant, poet, historian, educated, uneducated... These people provide the reader insight into the tensions, prejudices, aspirations, and dreams of these nations (and aspiring nations).

I enjoyed this book far more than I'd anticipated when I began, and though I am sure I have far, far less than a full
May 26, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spíš tak tři a půl. Na můj vkus hodně přeskakovala z tématu do tématu, což je asi nezbytný když chce obsáhnout na pár stránkách takhle hlubokou historii takhle velkýho území. Nevim, možná kdyby víc vzala do detailu tu přítomnost a osekala dějiny...

Ale možná ta kostrbatost byla způsobená i překladem; překladatelka měla rozhodně jinou češtinu než já. A i když nejsem člověk co by chodil po světě a počítal gramatický chyby v knížkách, tak tohle byl i na můj vkus nářez...

Ale téma hezký. Musim konečně
Jamie MacDonald Jones
I'm quite torn giving this book three stars. It was thought-provoking and provided a lot interesting anecdotes to elaborate on things experienced during the journey. Sadly, the derogatory tone of Applebaum when talking about some people was just awful, she essentially describes one woman who gives her a place to sleep for the evening as a fat mess. Unsure whether I want to read anything else by Applebaum as a result.
Katherine Thomas
Aug 21, 2015 Katherine Thomas rated it really liked it
Really interesting especially since her tour was 25 years ago and the unplanned foreshadowing of issues and events in Ukraine and Belarus are eerie.
Jul 12, 2012 Lindsay rated it really liked it
You could be born in Poland, grow up in the USSR, and currently live in Belarus--and yet live in the same town your whole life. Those pesky borders!
R. Shurmer
more travelogue, seeded with oral histories of nationalism and hatred, than a history
Sep 28, 2011 Anita rated it it was amazing
Love it!!!!
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Journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2006, she is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Washington Post.
She is married to Radosław Sikorski, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs. They have two children, Alexander and Tadeusz.

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