In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine


In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine, by Tim Judah

17/30 | Started 03.28.21 • Finished 04.28.22 | 3 stars


One of the great failings of the modern Ukrainian state is that it has never been able to create an all-encompassing post-Soviet narrative of modern Ukrainian history that was broadly accepted by most, if not all.

After seeing this recommended as "one to read" about Ukraine on a book list, I decided to give it a go. I don't have a whole lot to say about it... I found it to be a bit heady in parts. And it almost felt like there were too many stories included or too much ground covered because I found myself lost along the way at times.


This is why among the foreigners fighting for the rebels in Ukraine there are modern-day fascists ranged alongside extreme leftists who believe they are participating in a new and glorious communist revolution. In this ideological confusion communist flags fly alongside ones depicting Christ. There is no inkling that maybe Putin believes in none of this and in one thing only: power.

However, there were a few "aha" moments. In the end, the problems in Ukraine and Russia are bigger than the last 20 years, bigger than Putin. Here are some more quotes I found helpful:


Well, “that is twenty-three years of problems which have mounted up,” I ventured to suggest. “No,” she snapped, “it’s a hundred years of crap!” We were on to the subject of why it is so hard to reform. The Soviet-inherited system was designed, she said, so that the person at the top got to shoulder all the responsibility, so that absolutely no one lower down had to take any.

When I met Fule he said that given the way Putin had begun fighting for Ukraine—and this was before Crimea was stripped from Ukraine and a single shot fired in the east—he seemed “like a dog with its teeth clamped into a man’s neck.” A year later it seemed rather that the dog had its teeth clamped onto Ukraine’s leg. Ukraine could not shake its bleeding leg free, but the dog, unable to do more harm, still would not let go.

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