Borderland by Anna Reid

Borderland by Anna Reid – A Journey Through the History of Ukraine – is a book recommended even by some Ukrainians. I understand the appeal. It is more of a story than a history book, that some might find dry, so it makes sense that it is read by a wider audience. The problem with the book, hence the 2 stars, is the westplaining tone adopted by the author. She studied russian history and it shows.
The first part was published in 1997, where she seems disparaging and condescending towards Ukrainians. The second part though, written more recently, it’s worse.

Borderland by Anna Reid

At page 173 she mentions that Crimea is russian because of the 1991 referendum made by Gorbachev?!?! Really?! On 17 March 77% voted to stay in the ussr and on 26 December the soviet union was dissolved. All voted in favour of keeping ussr, including all of Ukraine and the Baltic states. Also, on the same year, when the referendum asked: “Do you support the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine?” 54% of people in Crimea said yes! So much for how much they wanted to stay within ussr. That was written in the first part of the book. She also said that russia will not bring tanks into Kyiv as they did in Grozny. What she based that assumption on is unclear.
Also, language doesn’t equate to nationality. It would mean that all the ones who were born in India and speak English are English or British. The same should apply to people in US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, countries in Africa.

At page 279, part II, she comments on the 2014 elections: “to everyone’s relief, the two far-right candidates did hopelessly, with less than 2% of the vote between them.” So, who exactly was this everyone she mentions? France? In 2014 they had an election for the European Parliament and 24% went to Marine Le Pen’s far-right party (getting over 40% last year in the France’s general election). Germany? AfD was established in 2013 and got over 12% of votes in 2021. US with MAGA? Italy? Sweden? Belgium?

On page 291 she goes on about the de-Communisation laws passed in 2015, which banned Nazi and soviet symbols and propaganda. This included a ban on the Ukrainian Communist Party that was “criticised abroad”. Well, Romania had a ban on communist parties because we know how wonderful is to live under communism. WWII started in September, when Nazis invaded western Poland and soviets invaded eastern Poland. We were occupied after the war and we remember.

She also talks about corruption while completely ignoring that corruption has 2 sides. One in which someone from a small country steals the wealth and the second part in which that person buys property in London, New York, Paris, with the help of British and American lawyers, using British and American and Swiss firms to laundry money. This is possible with corruption (put more nicely as “lobbying”) in these particular countries. Because of all of this westplaining I gave the book only 2 stars.

Borderland by Anna Reid

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 2/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: no
Published by: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year it was published: 2022 (first published in 1997)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History of Ukraine
Pages: 367

About the author: Reid read law at Oxford University and studied russian History at the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies. After working as a consultant and business journalist, she moved to Kyiv, where she acted as the Ukraine correspondent for the Economist from 1993 to 1995. From 2003 to 2007 she worked for a British think-tank.
Website & Social Media Links: –

2 thoughts on “Borderland by Anna Reid”

    • The cover is lovely, with Ukrainian’s national flower that resembles the flag too. I don’t know why it was so well received. It’s true that the book is pro-Ukrainian, but for me that is makes these parts of the book harder to accept. She was involved with these questions and interacted with hundreds of people, commenting on far-right and corruption without thinking why these accusations started and if they are real in the first place (far-right is not).

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