Anna Reid

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“What does Ukraine look like?” In the allotted five minutes I tried to give an idea... in The Guardian (15 March 2022)
it’s green and gently rolling, and dotted with medieval fortresses, romantically neglected baroque palaces and monasteries, and quiet, pretty towns and little cities, much like those of Austria or the Czech Republic. (Shown: Carmelite Monastery, Berdychiv, Zhytomyr Oblast)
Kyiv itself is a grand Belle Époque metropolis with up-and-down cobbled streets and chestnut trees. There are funny little back alleys and courtyards full of coffee shops and art galleries, leafy parks with views over the sprawling river Dnipro, and an array of glorious churches, the grandest of them the 11th-century Saint Sophia Cathedral [shown].

Anna Reid, (born 1965) is an English journalist whose work focuses primarily on the history of Eastern Europe. She is the author of three books on Eastern European history: Borderland: a journey through the history of Ukraine (1997/2015), The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia (2003), and Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II: 1941-1944 (2011).

Quotes[edit]

  • “What does Ukraine look like?” In the allotted five minutes I tried to give an idea...it’s green and gently rolling, and dotted with medieval fortresses, romantically neglected baroque palaces and monasteries, and quiet, pretty towns and little cities, much like those of Austria or the Czech Republic. Kyiv itself is a grand Belle Époque metropolis with up-and-down cobbled streets and chestnut trees. There are funny little back alleys and courtyards full of coffee shops and art galleries, leafy parks with views over the sprawling river Dnipro, and an array of glorious churches, the grandest of them the 11th-century Saint Sophia Cathedral.

Borderland: a journey through the history of Ukraine (2015)[edit]

  • Ukraina is literally translated as “on the edge” or “borderland”, and that is exactly what it is. Flat, fertile, and fatally tempting to invaders, Ukraine was split between Russia and Poland from the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th, between Russia and Austria through the 19th, and between Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania between the two world wars. Until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 it had never been an independent state.
    • p 1
  • But the past that gives Kiev unique glamour, that made it ‘the City’ to the novelist Mikhail Bulgakov and the ‘Joy of the World’ to the medieval chroniclers, is not the brash boom town of the turn of the last century, but the Kiev of a thousand years ago. From the tenth century to the thirteenth it was the capital of the eastern Slavs’ first great civilisation, Kievan Rus. And here Ukraine’s fight for an identity commences. Generations of scholars have bandied insults about how Rus began, how it was governed, even about how it got its name. But the biggest argument of all is over who Rus belongs to. Did Kievan Rus civilisation pass eastward, to Muscovy and the Russians, or did it stay put, in Ukraine? ‘If Moscow is Russia’s heart,’ runs a Russian proverb, ‘and St Petersburg its head, Kiev is its mother.’ Ukrainians, of course, say Kiev has nothing whatsoever to do with Russia – if she mothered anybody, it was the Ukrainians themselves.
    • p 5
  • Here begins Ukraine’s great debate – still raw, still undecided: are Ukrainians Central Europeans, like the Poles, or a species of Russian? Poles used to call western Ukraine ‘Eastern Little Poland’; the Russian name for Ukraine was ‘Little Russia.'
    • p 16
  • “The ‘real’ Ukraine, the Ukraine that has outlived armies and ideologies, lies in the countryside. Half an hour’s drive out of the city one enters a pre-modern world of dirt roads and horse-drawn carts, of outdoor wells and felt boots, of vast silences and velvet-black nights. The people here live off their own pigs and cows, fruit-trees and hives; they drink themselves to death on home-brewed vodka, roll cigarettes out of old newspapers, and curse ‘American spaceships’ for dropping Colorado beetles on the potato-plants.”
    • p 20
  • Being ‘Ukrainian’, for the hordes of patriotic young people manning a starburst of new charities and campaign groups in the capital, is not about what your surname is or what language you speak. It is about making a moral choice, about wanting a decent country and being a decent person. They are proud that the Ukrainian journalist who initiated the Maidan is Afghan by background, and that the first two demonstrators shot dead by police were ethnically Belarussian and Georgian.
    • p 234

Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II: 1941-1944 (2011)[edit]

  • “One of the most oft-quoted records of the siege, scribbled in pencil over the pages of a pocket address book, is that kept by twelve-year-old Tanya Savicheva:
    28 December 1941 at 12.30 a.m. – Zhenya died. 25 January 1942 at 3 p.m. – Granny died. 17 March at 5 a.m. – Lyoka died. 13 April at 2 a.m. – Uncle Vasya died. 10 May at 4 p.m. – Uncle Lyosha died. 13 May at 7.30 a.m. – Mama died. The Savichevs are dead. Everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left.”
    • p 363

External links[edit]

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