Reporting from different regions around Ukraine since the Maidan revolution of 2014, Judah helps us understand what lies behind the conflict in the region. It’s a picture reminiscent of other post-communist states such as the Balkans, complicated by Ukraine’s unique history as well as current Russian meddling, leaving one feeling pessimistic for a quick or easy resolution.
From one of the finest journalists of our time comes a definitive, boots-on-the-ground dispatch from the front lines of the conflict in Ukraine. Ever since Ukraine’s violent 2014 revolution, followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country has been at war. Misinformation reigns, more than two million people have been displaced, and Ukrainians fight one another on a second front—the crucial war against corruption.
With In Wartime, Tim Judah lays bare the events that have turned neighbors against one another and mired Europe’s second-largest country in a conflict seemingly without end.
In Lviv, Ukraine’s western cultural capital, mothers tend the graves of sons killed on the other side of the country. On the Maidan, the square where the protests that deposed President Yanukovych began, pamphleteers, recruiters, buskers, and mascots compete for attention. In Donetsk, civilians who cheered Russia’s President Putin find their hopes crushed as they realize they have been trapped in the twilight zone of a frozen conflict.
Judah talks to everyone from politicians to poets, pensioners, and historians. Listening to their clashing explanations, he interweaves their stories to create a sweeping, tragic portrait of a country fighting a war of independence from Russia—twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR.
About the Author
Tim Judah is a reporter for The Economist. A graduate of the London School of Economics and of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Judah worked for the BBC before covering the Balkan wars for The Times and other publications. He covered the war in Ukraine for The New York Review of Books. He lives in London with his wife and five children.
“Essential for anyone who wants to understand events in Ukraine and what they portend for the West. . . . Mr. Judah has written the first important book about the war in Ukraine, and it should be on the shelf of every diplomat and journalist shipping out to the region.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Vividly clear. . . . A portrait of what it’s like living during wartime. . . . Judah gives a very helpful overview of Ukraine’s systematic economic difficulties. . . . . Brave, thoughtful, self-effacing, and effective.” —William T. Vollmann, Bookforum
”Judah’s book is full of detailed reporting from both Western and Eastern Ukraine—he covered the conflict with Russia for The New York Review of Books—and although he sympathizes with the attempts to strengthen the government in Kiev and repel Russian aggression, his book offers a nuanced portrait of people on all sides of the conflict.” —Isaac Chotiner, Slate
“Rich and beautiful. . . . Deep, fastidious, and detailed. . . . Judah articulately and comprehensively explains what happened in the region during World War II, and the important connection between history and present-day violence.” —The Chicago Tribune
“An important new book. . . . Fast-paced and very topical. . . . Readers won't forget the pathos and violence Tim Judah has described.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Judah writes in taut, informative language. . . . Instilling a lasting impression of a nation at once divided in loyalties and in the throes of a war—a real and somewhat bizarre one—a quarter-century after independence from the Soviet Union.” —The Minneapolis StarTribune “A lively blend of research and personal narratives.” —Las Vegas Weekly
“It is no small trick to convey what life is like for ordinary Ukrainians. . . . Judah succeeds by traveling to these often out-of-the-way communities, poking around neighborhoods and museums, starting conversations with the people he meets. . . . He reveals the links between the current conflict and the history lying beneath the emotions and memories.” —Foreign Affairs
“A fascinating and often grim portrait of Ukraine . . . . . Judah offers a compassionate human view of these conflicts, mixing personal stories, history, politics, and reportage . . . . This special and timely book will provide lay readers with an apt introduction to Ukraine, and specialists will appreciate its atypical yet enlightening approach.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A compelling and acute piece of contemporary reportage.” —David Edgar, The London Review of Books
"Haunting . . . Timely . . . Judah concentrates skilfully and affectingly on the human cost of manoeuvres in Ukraine. He seldom makes his own thoughts and opinions seem intrusive, instead letting his eloquent and compassionate subjects give a far greater insight into the horror and privation." —Alexander Larman, The Observer
“The war in Ukraine was fought at the height of postmodernity, and at first images trumped words and propaganda overwhelmed reality. Yet with time it was a few journalists, the handful of women and men who were willing to travel, learn, and report, who transformed the two dimensions of the screen into the three of life, the clichés of governments into the faces of people. Tim Judah, one of the best of them, does not tell us what to think about war but instead teaches us how: with courage, humility, attention to human detail, and admirable historical intuition." —Timothy Snyder
"The strength of Judah's In Wartime lies in the depth, range and balance of his reportage and his eye for telling details." —Tony Barber, Financial Times
"A kaleidoscopic portrait . . . Judah Looks at the present—what Ukraine looks and feels like now. He criss-crosses the country from the Russian-speaking east to the Ukrainian-speaking west." —Marcus Tanner, The Independent
“Visceral, gripping, heart breaking and often shocking, based on interviews with witnesses and victims on the ground, In Wartime is both astute political analysis and vivid war reportage of what’s really happening in the dirty war in Ukraine by a veteran observer of the Balkan wars who truly understands the complexities and nuances of the wars on Europe's peripheries.” —Simon Sebag Montefiore
“Tim Judah has written a timely account of life in Ukraine . . . A vivid, human portrait of a society drained not just by war but by years of corruption.” —Annabelle Chapman, Prospect "Judah has carved out a reputation as one of Europe's best writers on the Balkans. His job description should be something like History Wars Correspondent." —Roger Boyes, The Times
"Tim Judah has got a lot closer to the war in eastern Ukraine than most western reporters—close enough to be able to convey vividly to readers the smells and sounds of such strange, screwed-up oddities as the Donetsk People's Republic, the Russian-backed splinter state. His experience of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s helped Judah spot this war as it mutated from malignant propaganda into blood-spattered reality. As a reporter, he excels at letting the Ukrainians themselves do the talking. His own sardonic undertone perfectly suits his subject." —Niall Ferguson