Since 1991, the Ukraine was the largest nation in the world without independence. A fertile country, rich in natural resources, it has long been fought over by neighbouring Poles, Germans, Russians and Rumanians and previous attempts for independence have been brutally crushed, in 1918 and 1941.
The Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) is a unique cultural organization established to rehabilitate Czechoslovakia's image abroad, which, in 1958, had become tarnished by communism. Founded by Czechoslovak intellectuals, SVU promotes scientific and cultural activities and has set up chapters in major cities around the world. This volume, written by one of the Society's founders, details the fascinating history of the SVU over the past fifty years.
Joseph Roth, best known as the author of the novel The Radetzky March and the nonfiction work The Wandering Jews, was one of the most seductive, disturbing, and enigmatic writers of the twentieth century. Born in 1894 in the Habsburg Empire in what is now Ukraine and dying in Paris in 1939, he was a perpetually displaced person, a traveler, a prophet, a compulsive liar, and a man who covered his tracks. Throughout the eastern borderlands of Europe, Dennis Marks explores the spiritual geography of a still-neglected master and uncovers the truth about Roth's lost world.
In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson makes a simple and provocative argument: that the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England's fault. Britain, according to Ferguson, entered into war based on naive assumptions of German aims--and England's entry into the war transformed a Continental conflict into a world war, which they then badly mishandled, necessitating American involvement. The war was not inevitable, Ferguson argues, but rather the result of the mistaken decisions of individuals who would later claim to have been in the grip of huge impersonal forces.That the war was wicked, horrific, inhuman, is memorialized in part by the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but also by cold statistics. More British soldiers were killed in the first day of the Battle of the Somme than Americans in the Vietnam War; indeed, the total British fatalities in that single battle--some 420,000--exceeds the entire American fatalities for both World Wars. And yet, as Ferguson writes, while the war itself was a disastrous folly, the great majority of men who fought it did so with enthusiasm. Ferguson vividly brings back to life this terrifying period, not through dry citation of chronological chapter and verse but through a series of brilliant chapters focusing on key ways in which we now view the First World War.For anyone wanting to understand why wars are fought, why men are willing to fight them, and why the world is as it is today, there is no sharper nor more stimulating guide than Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War .
Victoria Clark has the mind of a historian and the eye for detail possessed by the best novelists. In "Why Angels Fall, " she combines her gifts to give the reader a look at the sometimes mysterious world of Eastern Europe's Orthodox church. Majestic in their gilt encrusted robes and mitres, the Orthodox churchmen of Europe do convey a mysterious and arcane image. Combining history with contemporary detail, Clark traces the Orthodox faith through the embattled and fading world of late Byzantium to the present. Journeying through Greece, Russia, Macedonia, Romania, Cyprus, and the former Yugoslavia, Clark has met monks, nuns, bishops, and archbishops. Within a religion that traditionally has not accorded full status to women, Clark visits places that women have rarely been allowed to visit and asks questions that women have never before asked. Clark reveals an altogether different but equally engaging European legacy of worship with far-reaching consequences.
A masterful work of personal reportage, this volume is also a vibrant portrait of a mysterious people and an essential document of a disappearing culture.Fabled, feared, romanticized, and reviled, the Gypsies--or Roma--are among the least understood people on earth. Their culture remains largely obscure, but in Isabel Fonseca they have found an eloquent witness. In Bury Me Standing, alongside unforgettable portraits of individuals--the poet, the politician, the child prostitute--Fonseca offers sharp insights into the humor, language, wisdom, and taboos of the Roma. She traces their exodus out of India 1,000 years ago and their astonishing history of persecution: enslaved by the princes of medieval Romania; massacred by the Nazis; forcibly assimilated by the communist regimes; evicted from their settlements in Eastern Europe, and most recently, in Western Europe as well. Whether as handy scapegoats or figments of the romantic imagination, the Gypsies have always been with us--but never before have they been brought so vividly to life. Includes fifty black and white photos.
A New York Review Books OriginalThe distinguished Croatian journalist and publisher Slavko Goldstein says, "Writing this book about my family, I have tried not to separate what happened to us from the fates of many other people and of an entire country." 1941: The Year That Keeps Returning is Goldstein's astonishing historical memoir of that fateful year--when the Ustasha, the pro-fascist nationalists, were brought to power in Croatia by the Nazi occupiers of Yugoslavia. On April 10, when the German troops marched into Zagreb, the Croatian capital, they were greeted as liberators by the Croats. Three days later, Ante Pavelic, the future leader of the Independent State of Croatia, returned from exile in Italy and Goldstein's father, the proprietor of a leftist bookstore in Karlovac--a beautiful old city fifty miles from the capital--was arrested along with other local Serbs, communists, and Yugoslav sympathizers. Goldstein was only thirteen years old, and he would never see his father again. More than fifty years later, Goldstein seeks to piece together the facts of his father's last days. The moving narrative threads stories of family, friends, and other ordinary people who lived through those dark times together with personal memories and an impressive depth of carefully researched historic details. The other central figure in Goldstein's heartrending tale is his mother--a strong, resourceful woman who understands how to act decisively in a time of terror in order to keep her family alive. From 1941 through 1945 some 32,000 Jews, 40,000 Gypsies, and 350,000 Serbs were slaughtered in Croatia. It is a period in history that is often forgotten, purged, or erased from the history books, which makes Goldstein's vivid, carefully balanced account so important for us today--for the same atrocities returned to Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s. And yet Goldstein's story isn't confined by geographical boundaries as it speaks to the dangers and madness of ethnic hatred all over the world and the urgent need for mutual understanding.
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book PrizePeter Maass went to the Balkans as a reporter at the height of the nightmarish war there, but this book is not traditional war reportage. Maass examines how an ordinary Serb could wake up one morning and shoot his neighbor, once a friend--then rape that neighbor's wife. He conveys the desperation that makes a Muslim beg the United States to bomb his own city in order to end the misery. And Maass does not falter at the spectacle of U.N. soldiers shining searchlights on fleeing refugees--who are promptly gunned down by snipers waiting in the darkness. Love Thy Neighbor gives us an unflinching vision of a late-20th-century hell that is also a scathing inquiry into the worst extremes of human nature. Like Michael Herr's Dispatches (also available in Vintage paperback), it is an utterly gripping book that will move and instruct readers for years to come.
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category
A monumental work of nonfiction on a wartime atrocity, its sixty-year denial, and the impact of its truth
Jan Gross's hugely controversial Neighbors was a historian's disclosure of the events in the small Polish town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, when the citizens rounded up the Jewish population and burned them alive in a barn. The massacre was a shocking secret that had been suppressed for more than sixty years, and it provoked the most important public debate in Poland since 1989. From the outset, Anna Bikont reported on the town, combing through archives and interviewing residents who survived the war period. Her writing became a crucial part of the debate and she herself an actor in a national drama.
Part history, part memoir, The Crime and the Silence is the journalist's account of these events: both the story of the massacre told through oral histories of survivors and witnesses, and a portrait of a Polish town coming to terms with its dark past. Including the perspectives of both heroes and perpetrators, Bikont chronicles the sources of the hatred that exploded against Jews and asks what myths grow on hidden memories, what destruction they cause, and what happens to a society that refuses to accept a horrific truth.
A profoundly moving exploration of being Jewish in modern Poland that Julian Barnes called "one of the most chilling books," The Crime and the Silence is a vital contribution to Holocaust history and a fascinating story of a town coming to terms with its dark past.