Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe
, 1994 - History
- 314 pages
An extraordinary journey into the past and present of the lands east of Poland and west of Russia - an area defined throughout its history by colliding empires, and only now emerging from the clamp of Soviet rule. Traveling from the former Soviet naval center of Kaliningrad on the Baltic to the Black Sea port of Odessa, Anne Applebaum encounters a rich range of competing cultures, religions, and national aspirations as inhabitants of the borderlands attempt to build a future grounded in their ancestral legacies. In reasserting their heritage, neighbors often unearth old conflicts: in Vilnius, a Lithuanian professor charts a historical conspiracy against his language by the Poles, while his Polish neighbors rail against the Lithuanian determination to deny their ancient claims to the city. In Minsk, a young "post-modernist" couple, seeking a rallying point for Belarusian nationalism, piece together cultures and legends to create tradition where none is remembered, while another resident of the city devotes himself to recovering the Jewish culture that once predominated. Rich in surprising encounters and vivid characters, Between East and West brilliantly illuminates the soul of the borderlands and the shaping power of the past.