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Between East and West : Across the Borderlands of Europe

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  68 ratings  ·  11 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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133rd out of 139 books — 31 voters
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Community Reviews

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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
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
...more
Adam
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
...more
Nan
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.
Peter Korchnak
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
...more
John
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
Pippa
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.
Lindsay
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!
Jennifer
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.
R.
more travelogue, seeded with oral histories of nationalism and hatred, than a history
Anita
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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