New Books in Eastern European Studies

Marshall Poe

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

All Episodes

Kenneth Austin, who teaches history at the University of Bristol, UK, is well-known for his work on Jews and Judaism in early modern Europe. His new book, The Jews and the Reformation (Yale University Press, 2020), offers the most thorough description and analysis of its subject to date. Austin describes the long and complex history of the two traditions, shows how both religions defined themselves in opposition to each other, and how competing confessional communities that emerged out of the European reformations adopted quite different attitudes to their Jewish neighbors. This outstanding work promises to revolutionize the ways in which future scholars will approach this complex and demanding subject. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of An introduction to John Owen (Crossway, 2020). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Sep 21

40 min

By the dawn of the twentieth century, Budapest was a burgeoning cosmopolitan metropolis. Known at the time as the “Pearl of the Danube,” it boasted some of Europe’s most innovative architectural and cultural achievements, and its growing middle class was committed to advancing the city’s liberal politics and making it an intellectual and commercial crossroads between East and West. In addition, as historian Anita Kurimay reveals, fin-de-siècle Budapest was also famous for its boisterous public sexual culture, including a robust gay subculture. Queer Budapest, 1873-1961 (University of Chicago Press) is the riveting story of nonnormative sexualities in Hungary as they were understood, experienced, and policed between the birth of the capital as a unified metropolis in 1873 and the decriminalization of male homosexual acts in 1961. Kurimay explores how and why a series of illiberal Hungarian regimes came to regulate but also tolerate and protect queer life. She also explains how the precarious coexistence between the illiberal state and queer community ended abruptly at the close of World War II. A stunning reappraisal of sexuality’s political implications, Queer Budapest recuperates queer communities as an integral part of Hungary’s—and Europe’s—modern incarnation. Anita Kurimay is an Associate Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College (USA). Steven Seegel is Professor of History, University of Northern Colorado Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Sep 15

57 min

Jovana Babović’s Metropolitan Belgrade: Culture and Class in Interwar Yugoslavia (University of Pittsburgh Press) examines the ways in which middle-class Belgraders negotiated metropolitan modernity in the interwar era. Defying the historiographical conventions of its field, the book unearths leisure activities that captured the attention of Belgrade urbanites in the 1920s and 1930s. The capital of the newly unified Yugoslavia, Belgrade was gradually integrated into transnational entertainment networks, as jazz, film, and cabaret streamed into the city from abroad. Belgrade’s middle-class residents consumed foreign popular culture as a symbol of their participation in European metropolitan modernity. The pleasures they derived from entertainment, however, stood at odds with their civic duty of promoting highbrow culture and nurturing the Serbian nation within the Yugoslav state. Ultimately, middle-class Belgraders learned to reconcile their leisure indulgences by defining them as bourgeois refinement. As they endowed foreign entertainment with higher cultural value, they edged out domestic performers and their lower-class patrons from urban life. Metropolitan Belgrade tells the story of how the Europeanization of the city’s middle class led to spatial segregation, cultural stratification, and the destruction of the Yugoslav entertainment industry. Jovana Babović is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo and a historian of urban life and popular culture in twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Sep 3

47 min

Marco Puleri’s Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian: Hybrid Identities and Narratives in Post-Soviet Culture and Politics (Peter Lang, 2020) examines a complex process of identity formation in the context of exposure to a diversity of linguistic and cultural influences. Puleri zeroes in on contemporary Ukraine to explore the specificities of cultural overlapping and the power it exercises on the individual’s construction of self. As the title prompts, the emphasis is made on hybrid identities, which Puleri views from the perspective of epistemological multivalences. The discussion of the formation and function of hybrid identities is rooted not only in cultural and linguistic diversities, but also in complex historical and political processes. In Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian, Puleri attempts to unravel entangled clusters that signal identity hybridity: the book offers an ample collection of instances that manifest the overlapping and collaboration of multiple narratives that construct various identities. The book discusses in detail the writers who write (or wrote) in Russian, but live in Ukraine. Puleri asks a legitimate question, to which it is hard to find an answer: how does one categorize such literature? Is it Russian? Even though it is not written in Russia and it is not written by writers who consider themselves Russians. Is it Ukrainian? It is not written in Ukrainian, but it is written by writers who identify themselves as Ukrainians. The question itself is further complicated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which makes the question sensitive and at times uncomfortable. In Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian, Puleri considers a variety of aspects, attempting to delicately approach the question of hybrid identity, which in the present combination—Ukrainian and Russian components—may evoke further anxieties and complications. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Sep 2

56 min

A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this horrific moment of displacement and flight, and to assess its social, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological consequences. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in twelve languages, Adam Teller traces the entire course of the crisis, shedding fresh light on the refugee experience and the various relief strategies developed by the major Jewish centers of the day. Teller pays particular attention to those thousands of Jews sent for sale on the slave markets of Istanbul and the extensive transregional Jewish economic network that coalesced to ransom them. He also explores how Jewish communities rallied to support the refugees in central and western Europe, as well as in Poland-Lithuania, doing everything possible to help them overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives. Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century (Princeton University Press, 2020) offers an intimate study of an international refugee crisis, from outbreak to resolution, that is profoundly relevant today. Adam Teller is a Professor of Judaic Studies and History at Princeton University. He is the author of Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates. Robin Buller is a Doctoral Candidate in History at UNC Chapel Hill and a 2020-2021 dissertation fellow with the Association for Jewish Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Aug 25

74 min

In his new book Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia (Cambridge University Press), Matthew Romaniello examines the workings of the British Russia Company and the commercial entanglements of the British and Russian empires in the long eighteenth century. This innovative and highly readable monograph challenges the long-held views of Russian economic backwardness in the early modern period and stresses the importance of personal histories and individual agency in global economic dynamics. By focusing on diplomatic and commercial careers of a fascinating set of characters, Romaniello charts vibrant knowledge and information-sharing networks that were essential for the success of both empires in the Eurasian economic and geopolitical arenas. A non-conventional economic history, Enterprising Empires traverses the micro-historical and the macro-economic to reevaluate Russian commercial prowess before 1800 and illuminate an overlooked area of Anglo-Russian cooperation and rivalry. Matthew Romaniello is an Associate Professor of History at Weber State University and a historian of the Russian empire, commodities, and medicine. He is currently the editor of The Journal of World History and the former editor of Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies. Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Aug 24

58 min

Memoirs of Jewish life in the east European shtetl often recall the hekdesh (town poorhouse) and its residents: beggars, madmen and madwomen, disabled people, and poor orphans. Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 (Stanford University Press, 2020) tells the story of these marginalized figures from the dawn of modernity to the eve of the Holocaust. Combining archival research with analysis of literary, cultural, and religious texts, Natan M. Meir recovers the lived experience of Jewish society's outcasts and reveals the central role that they came to play in the drama of modernization. Those on the margins were often made to bear the burden of the nation as a whole, whether as scapegoats in moments of crisis or as symbols of degeneration, ripe for transformation by reformers, philanthropists, and nationalists. Shining a light into the darkest corners of Jewish society in eastern Europe―from the often squalid poorhouse of the shtetl to the slums and insane asylums of Warsaw and Odessa, from the conscription of poor orphans during the reign of Nicholas I to the cholera wedding, a magical ritual in which an epidemic was halted by marrying outcasts to each other in the town cemetery―Stepchildren of the Shtetl reconsiders the place of the lowliest members of an already stigmatized minority. Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University. He also serves as a museum consultant and leads study tours of Eastern Europe with Ayelet Tours. 503-828-5303, Steven Seegel is a Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Aug 19

58 min

In his book From Slaves to Prisoners of War: The Ottoman Empire, Russia, and International Law (Oxford University Press, 2018), Will Smiley examines the emergence of rules of warfare surrounding captivity and slavery in the context of Ottoman-Russian military rivalry between 1700 and 1878. This remarkably well-researched and carefully argued monograph uncovers a vibrant inter-imperial legal regime, challenging many conventional narratives about the expansion of modern international law and the European states system. Its pages provide ample material with which we can rethink the supposed linear decline of Ottoman state power and the nature of pre-modern diplomacy, sovereignty, and governance in Eurasian empires. While traditional accounts of modern international law mainly focus on intellectual and political developments in the Western world, Smiley shows how two states on the European periphery worked out their own rules – their own international law governing the movement of captives, slaves, and prisoners of war across imperial frontiers. The story that emerges is not one of the Ottoman state’s joining an outside system of law. On the contrary, both in the eighteenth century and the even more challenging nineteenth, the Sublime Porte actively shaped the rules by which it was bound. Will Smiley is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities Program at the University of New Hampshire and a historian of Eurasia, the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, and international law. Vladislav Lilić  is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Aug 18

71 min

It’s been a difficult year in America. From plague, to protests, to politics, there have never been so many lives at stake, nor so many questions about the future of our country. Since his election in 2016, questions have been raised about president Trump’s too-close-for-comfort ties to Russian leadership and intelligence. Lately, his antagonism toward infectious disease science and CDC guidelines in addition to his deployment of federal troops into American cities to silence protestors have led many to compare the current regime to authoritarian governments of long ago wars. But the truth is, very little about these tactics are new. In other parts of the world, such as in Ukraine, citizens know them, resist them, and subvert them in a way Americans are just learning how to. In her striking debut, On Our Way Home from the Revolution: Reflections on Ukraine (Mad Creek Books), author Sonya Bilocerkowycz speculates on the possibility of future revolutions built on the lessons of revolutions past—both big, and small. Her essays expertly weave personal narrative as a member of the Ukrainian-American diaspora into research about Ukrainian myth, politics, history, art, and more, in one great cultural examination of Ukraine that is as timely as it is thoughtful. Bilocerkowcyz’s unique perspective as a Ukrainian-American sheds necessary light onto the darkness of America’s current political moment, her voice a guide to finding our way home. Today on New Books in Literature, please join us as we sit down with Sonya Bilocerkowcyz to learn more about On Our Way Home from the Revolution, available now. Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral student at Ohio University, where she studies creative nonfiction and teaches writing classes. For more NBN interviews, follow her on Twitter @zoebossiere or head to Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Aug 10

40 min

Historian and academic Roger Moorhouse, revisits the opening campaign of World War II, the German invasion of Poland in September 1939., in his new book Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II (Basic Book, 2020). Although the German invasion was the cause of the outbreak of World War II, oddly there has not been much by way of English language treatments of this pivotal historical episode. With this fine and highly readable narrative history, Moorhouse more than makes up for this omission. Combing English, German and crucially Polish language sources, Moorhouse reveals to the reader the German campaign from start to finish. Along the way showing that stereotypical Western images of the Polish army: cavalry charging tanks, are mythological in nature and inaccurate. Moorhouse also details for the reader the shameful refusal of the British and French governments to assist their Polish ally. Equally well illustrated is the Soviet Union’s invasion of Eastern Poland. With the Soviet mythology that the invasion was mostly ‘peaceful’ and well-received, just that: a myth. In short, Roger Moorhouse presents to the reader a highly interesting narrative history of an important historical episode. All from the author of Berlin at War and The Devil’s Alliance. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 22

43 min

The collapse of the Soviet Union famously opened new venues for the theories of nationalism and the study of processes and actors involved in these new nation-building processes. In Toward Nationalizing Regimes: Conceptualizing Power and Identity in the Post-Soviet Realm (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), Diana T. Kudaibergenova takes the new states and nations of Eurasia that emerged in 1991, Latvia and Kazakhstan, and seeks to better understand the phenomenon of post-Soviet states tapping into nationalism to build legitimacy. What explains this difference in approaching nation-building after the collapse of the Soviet Union? What can a study of two very different trajectories of development tell us about the nature of power, state and nationalizing regimes of the ‘new’ states of Eurasia? Toward Nationalizing Regimes finds surprising similarities in two such apparently different countries—one “western” and democratic, the other “eastern” and dictatorial. Dr. Kudaibergenova is a political sociologist who studies different intersections of power relations through concepts of state, nationalizing regimes and different ideologies. Trained as sociologist at Cambridge, she is currently a Research Associate on the leading UK Global Challenges Research Fund grant COMPASS that is based at the Centre of Development Studies (Department of Politics and International Studies) at the University of Cambridge. Steven Seegel is Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 21

52 min

War in Europe: 1450 to the Present (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) is a masterful overview of war and military development in Europe since 1450, bringing together the work of a renowned historian of modern European and military history in a single authoritative volume. Beginning with the impact of the Reformation and continuing up to the present day, Professor Emeritus at Exeter University, Jeremy Black discusses the following key theme in this truly splendid book:long-term military developments, notably in the way war is waged and battle conducted; the relationship between war and transformations in the European international system; the linkage between military requirements and state developments, the consequences of these requirements, and of the experience of war, for the nature of society Adopting a clear chronological approach, Professor Black weaves a rich and detailed narrative of the development of war in relation to transformations in the European international system, demonstrating the links between its causes and consequences in the military, political and social spheres. Assimilating decades of important research as well as bringing new perspectives to the topic, War in Europe is a key text for students taking courses in European history, international relations and war studies and the lay educated public interested in early-modern and modern European history and military history. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 10

43 min

How did an authoritarian regime help lay the cornerstones of human rights and international law? Soviet Judgement at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal  (Oxford University Press, 2020) argues that Anglo-American dominated histories capture the moment while missing the story. Drawing upon secret archives open for a few brief years during Russia’s liberalization, Francine Hirsch takes readers behind the scenes to private parties and late-night deliberations where the Nuremberg Principles took shape. A vital corrective told through the messy and all too human negotiations behind a trial that changed everything and almost never happened. Francine Hirsch is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first book Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Cornell UP, 2005) received the Herbert Baxter Adams, Wayne S. Vucinich, and Council for European Studies book prizes. She specializes in Russian and Soviet History, Modern European History, Comparative Empires, Russian-American Engagement, and the History of Human Rights. Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His forthcoming book Enemies of the People: Hitler’s Critics and the Gestapo explores enforcement practices toward different social groups under Nazism. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at or @Staxomatix.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 9

84 min

History that reads like a thriller; The Good Assassin: How A Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down The Butcher of Latvia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) by Stephan Talty is the untold story of an Israeli spy’s epic journey to bring the notorious Butcher of Latvia to justice—a case that altered the fates of all ex-Nazis. Before World War II, Herbert Cukurs was a famous figure in his small Latvian city, the “Charles Lindbergh of his country.” But by 1945, he was the Butcher of Latvia, a man who murdered some thirty thousand Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, fleeing to South America after war’s end. By 1965, as a statute of limitations on all Nazi war crimes threatened to expire, Germany sought to welcome previous concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders, and executioners, as citizens. The global pursuit of Nazi criminals escalated to beat the looming deadline, and Mossad, the Israeli national intelligence agency, joined the cause. Yaakov Meidad, the brilliant Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, led the mission to assassinate Cukurs in a desperate bid to block the amnesty. In a thrilling undercover operation unrivaled by even the most ambitious spy novels, Meidad traveled to Brazil in an elaborate disguise, befriended Cukurs and earned his trust, while negotiations over the Nazi pardon neared a boiling point. The Good Assassin uncovers this little-known chapter of Holocaust history and the pulse-pounding undercover operation that brought Cukurs to justice. Renee Garfinkel is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, writer, and Middle East commentator for the nationally syndicated TV program, The Armstrong Williams Show.. Write her at or tweet @embracingwisdom Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 6

39 min

In her new book, After the Berlin Wall: Memory and the Making of the New Germany, 1989 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Hope M. Harrison examines the history and meaning of the Berlin Wall, Drawing on an extensive range of archival sources and interviews, this book profiles key memory activists who have fought to commemorate the history of the Berlin Wall and examines their role in the creation of a new German national narrative. With victims, perpetrators and heroes, the Berlin Wall has joined the Holocaust as an essential part of German collective memory. Key Wall anniversaries have become signposts marking German views of the past, its relevance to the present, and the complicated project of defining German national identity. Considering multiple German approaches to remembering the Wall via memorials, trials, public ceremonies, films, and music, this revelatory work also traces how global memory of the Wall has impacted German memory policy. It depicts the power and fragility of state-backed memory projects, and the potential of such projects to reconcile or divide. For more information on the history of the Berlin Wall check out these video clips with Dr. Harrison: Inside the Chapel of Reconciliation and Outside the Former Death Strip. And listeners might be interested in Harrison's Blog Post about arriving in Berlin a few hours after the Berlin Wall fell. Hope M. Harrison is a Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University. Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at or on twitter @craig_sorvillo. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jul 6

72 min

The Hasidic leader R. Nachman of Braslav (1772–1810) has held a place in the Jewish popular imagination for more than two centuries. Some see him as the (self-proclaimed) Messiah, others as the forerunner of modern Jewish literature. Existing studies struggle between these dueling readings, largely ignoring questions of aesthetics and politics in his work. Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity (SUNY Press, 2020) lays out a new paradigm for understanding R. Nachman’s thought and writing, and, with them, the beginnings of Jewish literary modernity. Yitzhak Lewis examines the connections between imperial modernization processes in Eastern Europe at the turn of the eighteenth century and the emergence of “modern literature” in the storytelling of R. Nachman. Reading his tales and teachings alongside the social, legal, and intellectual history of the time, the book’s guiding question is literary: How does R. Nachman represent this changing environment in his writing? Lewis paints a nuanced and fascinating portrait of a literary thinker and creative genius at the very moment his world was evolving unrecognizably. He argues compellingly that R. Nachman’s narrative response to his changing world was a major point of departure for Jewish literary modernity. Yitzhak Lewis is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University, China. Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at:   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 29

56 min

When Americans think about trials of Holocaust perpetrators, they generally think of the Nuremberg Trials or the trial of Adolf Eichmann or perhaps of the Frankfort trials of perpetrators from Auschwitz. If they think of Polish trials at all, they likely assume these were show trials driven by political goals rather than an interest in justice. Gabriel Finder and Alexander Prusin's book Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland (University of Toronto Press, 2018) shows that the truth was considerably more nuanced. The book is a comprehensive account of the trials of Nazi perpetrators conducted in liberated and postwar Poland. But it’s more than that—it’s a reflection on how politics impact justice, on what trials can teach us about perpetrator behavior, and on the ways in which ordinary Poles responded to the Holocaust. Finder and Prusin show that the trials were shaped by their political context. But this context allowed and sometimes encouraged the participation of a variety of actors and for a careful and thorough examination of documentary evidence and the testimony of survivors.  As a result, the trials were largely successful in achieving a kind of justice, as imperfect as that might be. Prusin died shortly before the book was published. This interview is dedicated to his memory. Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 22

81 min

Paul D’Anieri’s Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War (Cambridge University Press, 2019) documents in a nuanced way the development of the current military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The book includes a meticulous account of numerous developments which, according to D’Anieri, led to the war that still remains officially undeclared. The roots of the conflict can be found in the beginning of the end of the USSR: different visions that Russian and Ukrainian politicians and officials had regarding the development of their countries gradually contributed to the growing gap—political and ideological—between Russia and Ukraine. D’Anieri’s study comprises a number of insightful and interesting comments on the political developments: interviews and conversations, which reveal the views of Russian and Ukrainian political players, help reconstruct the dynamic that eventually led to the Ukrainian revolutions and to the Russo-Ukrainian war of 2014. One of the strongest aspects of the book is the inclusion of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia into the international political context: D’Anieri illustrates how the conflict, on the one hand, appeared to emerge as a consequence of international processes; on the other hand, it appears to be shaping to a larger extent the current international dynamic. Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War completes a number of goals: documenting the current conflict and outlining the main reasons is one of them. Additionally, the book provides insights into understanding Ukraine as an independent state which in the West has long been confused with the Russian territory. This understanding is inseparable from the histories and developments of the neighboring countries, including Russia in the first place. However, it should also be noted that the history and understanding of Russia will always be abridged without a closer look at the countries that at some point happened to be under Russia’s influence. On a larger scale, Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War is an attempt to break a traditional approach of viewing Ukraine as a country that has long been understood indirectly through the Russian lens. D’Anieri brings Ukraine as a geopolitical unit to the forefront to reveal the complex and entangled history of its north-eastern neighbor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 17

49 min

The Great War was perhaps the greatest single upheaval of the 20th century. While World War II saw more lives lost, in terms of the shock to European/Western civilization, the Great War was a more horrendous event. Perhaps nothing was as unexpected in this conflict as the sudden termination of the same in November 1918. From that time to this, historians have been considering why Germany and its allies decided to terminate the conflict when they did. Here to consider the matter once again, in this newest episode of Arguing History is Professor of History Emeritus Jeremy Black and Dr. Charles Coutinho of the Royal Historical Society. Professor Jeremy Black MBE, Is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Exeter. And a Senior Associate at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. A graduate of Queens College, Cambridge with a First, he is the author of well over one-hundred books. In 2008 he was awarded the “Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Lifetime Achievement.” Dr. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 11

35 min

Jana Byars talks with Martina Cvajner, Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Trento, about her new book, Soviet Signoras: Personal and Collective Transformations in Eastern European Migration (University of Chicago Press, 2019). This book focuses on a group of women who migrated from areas in the former Soviet Union to northern Italy, following them from the first days of their arrival and their early work as elderly home caregivers, as they build personal lives and networks, through the establishment of a meaningful community. Dr Cvajner spent almost two decades with the women she studies, developing friendships and long-term connections. This personal interest shines through in the book and in our talk. She has a genuine affection for her subjects and approaches them not just as research material, but as whole humans, with complex stories. As a review noted, “By zeroing in on these elements of personal identity, she reveals previously unexplored sides of the social psychology of migration, colouring our contemporary discussion with complex shades of humanity. ”Our discussion discusses the importance of sexuality, the relationship between gender and migration, and explores the benefits of long-term ethnographic research. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 9

48 min

The murder of two-thirds of European Jews, referred to by many as the Holocaust, did not begin June 22, 1941, with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, or September 1, 1939, with the beginning of WWII, or with 1938 Kristallnacht, or even with the 1933 rise of Hitler. According to Alexander Gendler, it began on August 1, 1914, with the start of WWI, of which WWII was just its continuation. It was then that Russia's Imperial Army of Nicholas II committed the now largely forgotten genocide of Russian Jews. His new book, Khurbm 1914-1922: Prelude to the Holocaust (Varda Books, 2019), is the most extensive collection of eye-witness testimonies and official communications revealing the genocidal destruction of Jewish life by the Russian army during World War I. Alexander Gendler, a former NPR “Morning Edition” commentator, syndicated columnist, and a contributing writer to the New York Times Op-Ed page, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Forgotten Genocide project sponsored by the Center for Jewish Life Studies. Robin Buller is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 8

68 min

Stanislav Kulchytsky’s The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: An Anatomy of the Holodomor (CIUS Press, 2018) presents a meticulous research that unveils the mechanism of the Holodomor as a man-made famine, which was launched in Ukraine by the Soviets as a punitive and controlling measure undertaken to discipline and suppress those, peasants in the first place, who might have rebelled against the Soviet programs such as collectivization. With this book, Kulchytsky offers a complex approach to understanding the Holodomor: from the origins of the Soviet Union to the development of sophisticated programs that were designed to secure the stability and unequivocal dominance of the totalitarian regime, masked, however, as a “universal virtue” for all Soviets. As with the Soviet Union, the famine of 1932-1933 asks to consider multiple components that led to one of the most tragic and traumatic episodes in the history of Ukraine in the 20th century: the methodological frame that Kulchytsky provides takes into account these multiple components and helps convincingly track the crimes that were performed by the Soviet officials. Moreover, the work can also be read as a confession of the scholar who lived through all stages of ideological indoctrination whose task was to raise scholars who would devotedly serve the regime. Kulchytsky opens his book with his personal story of how he started investigating the Holodomor under the Soviet Union: required by the Communist Party officials, the research went into a completely different direction and yielded the results that the Party could not foresee. The book is the evidence of scholarly integrity and of the resilience towards the Party’s demands of obedience and cooperation. In spite of a number of works written about the USSR, it still remains to some extent terra incognita: particularly those areas that could shed some light on how the Soviet Union, that was built at the expense of millions of lives, lasted for decades; and why today there are attempts in Russia, which considered itself the main heir of the USSR, to revive the “glory” of its leaders—Stalin in the first place—and of life under the Soviet Union. The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: An Anatomy of the Holodomor provides detailed research of the traumatic episode in the history of Ukraine; it shows the mechanism of the totalitarian regime; and it takes us one step closer to the understanding of how the USSR emerged and developed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 5

97 min

Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced. John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at and @johnwphd. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 2

118 min

Though his advice has saved the lives of millions of people, the name Ignaz Semmelweis is not one commonly known today. In his book Anthony Valerio’s Semmelweis: The Women's Doctor (Zantedeschi Books, 2019). Valerio details the many struggles Semmelweis faced in winning acceptance for his advice on antiseptic procedures. The son of a Buda spice merchant, Semmelweis started his studies in law before a chance attendance at a medical lecture sparked his interest in becoming a doctor. After earning his degree he decided to specialize in obstetrics, a choice that soon brought him to confront the problem of childbed fever. Deducing that exposure to cadavers was a factor, Semmelweis devised a regimen of hand washing that dramatically reduced the morality rate at the maternity clinic where he worked. Though Semmelweis’s treatment was simple, his ideas faced considerable resistance from leading figures in the Western medical community, with the stress from his campaigns to promote his ideas contributing to the institutionalization that led to his death in 1865. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 1

59 min

In Epic Journey: Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir (Academic Studies Press, 2020), Andrei Kushnir documents the story of his father, Wasyl Kushnir, who was born in the western part of Ukraine in 1923. The book is based on Wasyl Kushnir’s memoirs and it includes a number of photos that help reconstruct his personal story. Narrating his family story, Wasyl Kushnir goes back to the second half of the 19th century and takes the reader to the present moment: the story provides a glimpse into a family that seems to be shaped by all the atrocities of the 20th century. World War I, the collapse of the two empires, the advancement of the Soviets, dekulakization, collectivization, the Holodomor, World War II, Nazi German labor camps, exiles to Siberia, immigration to the USA: these events undoubtedly leave an imprint on the individual’s life. At times, the book reads like a movie plot: Wasyl Kushnir is a character whose life unfolds as the countries and the peoples survive though tragedies and hardships. While Andrei Kushnir pays tribute to his family by introducing the audience to the story of his father and his family, he also creates a unique way to open up historical moments through personal narratives and stories. The center of the book is the story of Wasyl Kushnir, but it gives a panoramic overview of the events that shaped not only an individual life, but the lives of nations and the destinies of the countries. This is a narrative that provides an opportunity to emphasize the fate of the individual and to present a linear presentation of historical developments. For this reason, the book is very personal and rather unbiased at the same time; the book provides insight into the life of a beloved person and it opens up the tragedies of generations on a global level. Epic Journey: Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir is a book of memories that documents an individual life in an intimate and delicate way and it arranges numerous pieces of history not only of Ukraine, but its neighbors as well, which produces space for remembering and commemoration on private and public levels Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jun 1

49 min

The history of antisemitism in Europe stretches back as far as Ancient Rome, but persecutions of Jews became widespread during the Crusades, beginning in the early 11th century when the wholesale massacre of entire communities became commonplace. From the 12th century, the justification for this state-sanctioned violence became the blood libel accusation: the idea that Jews ritually murdered Christian children and used their blood in the celebration of Passover. Nowhere in Europe was the blood libel more tenacious, credible, and long lived than in the Russian Empire, particularly during the late Imperial period, which saw large scale pogroms and harsh restrictions visited upon the empire's Jewish population. The Russian Revolution of 1917 attracted many Jews to its cause, thanks in large measure to Bolshevik condemnations of antisemitism and persecution of the Jewish minority. These numbers grew in the wake of the brutal Civil War that followed from 1918 - 1922 when the White Army revived the pogrom with particular vigor. What happened after the Bolshevik victory is the subject of Elissa Bemporad's new book, Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets (Oxford UP, 2019), which won the National Jewish Book Award (Modern Jewish Thought and Experience). Bemporad probes the underbelly of the "Soviet myth"— that the USSR had eradicated the pogroms, banished the notion of a blood libel to the scrapheap of other opiates for the people, and vanquished antisemitism as part of the regime's broad anti-religious campaign — and discovers that both pogroms and the blood libel had a robust afterlife in the USSR. As she traces changing attitudes towards Jews in the USSR, Bemporad also examines the uneasy and often ambivalent but mutually dependent, and ever-shifting relationship between the regime and the Jewish population as the Soviet century unfolds. Legacy of Blood looks at the re-emergence of overt antisemitism in the occupied territories of the USSR during World War II and the troubled return of the Jews to mainstream society after the war. The result is a meticulously researched, thought-provoking, and eminently readable book that adds much to both Jewish and Russian historical scholarship. Elissa Bemporad is an Associate Professor of History at CUNY Graduate Center and the Jerry and William Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History, Queens College of CUNY. She is the author of Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk (Indiana University Press, 2013) and the forthcoming A Comprehensive History of the Jews in the Soviet Union, vol I (NYU Press). Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. She is the award-winning author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow and Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: A Pocket Guide to Russian History. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

May 26

58 min

What happens when a court tries to become a “new” court? What happens to the many artifacts of its history—previous laws and jurisprudence, the building that it inhabits, the people who weave in and out of it? This is the question that grounds Alex Jeffrey’s new book, The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which explores the making of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through extensive engagements with the different actors working in and around the Court, as well as with the Court itself, Jeffrey shows how the law is productive of many different edges, which are themselves both practical (in the sense that they reflect real-world conditions) and idealized (in the sense that they allow the law to take responsibility for some things but not others). By looking at the ways that a court that is imagined to be above the small concerns of the world that it inhabits must, in fact, encounter those small concerns, Jeffrey is able to shine light on the ways that courts, too, are socialized. Dino Kadich is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @dinokadich. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Apr 29

72 min

Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day. The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education. Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia). Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Apr 28

59 min

The opposing powers had already suffered casualties on a scale previously unimaginable by October 1914. On both the Western and Eastern fronts elaborate war plans lay in ruins and had been discarded in favour of desperate improvisation. In the West this soon resulted in the remorseless world of the trenches; in the East all eyes were focused on the old, beleaguered Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemysl. The great siege that unfolded at Przemysl was the longest of the Great War. In the defence of the fortress and the struggle to relieve it Austria-Hungary suffered some 800,000 casualties. Almost unknown in the West, this battle was one of the great turning points of the conflict. If the Russians had broken through in the Fall of 1914, they could have invaded Central Europe and probably knocked Austria out of the war. But by the time the fortress fell in March 1915, the Russian’s strength was so sapped they could go no further. In The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe's Bloodlands (Basic Books, 2020), Professor Alexander Watson, Professor of History at the University of London, prize-winning author of Ring of Steel, has written one of the great epics of the First World War. Comparable to Stalingrad in 1942-3, Przemysl shaped the course of Europe's future. This book, described by Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, as a ‘splendid book’, is a must read for both layman and scholar alike. It is based upon voluminous archival research and is without a doubt the definitive treatment of the subject. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Apr 6

52 min

Latvia's elegant capital, Riga, is one of Europe's best-kept secrets. Strategically located on the Eastern Baltic coast at the mouth of the River Daugava, Riga was founded in the early 13th century as a trading hub, a military outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, and a base for Roman Catholic prelates to convert both the pagan natives and the Orthodox Christians of Rus. Kevin O'Connor's new book, The House of Hemp and Butter: A History of Old Riga (Northern Illinois University Press, 2019) charts the fascinating history of Riga from the earliest days to Peter the Great's conquest of the much-coveted trading port in the early 18th century. O'Connor's book recounts in fascinating detail the personalities who shaped and dominated Riga's political and economic history. For six centuries, Riga's fortunes rose and fell in step with major political events of Europe, as the uneasy triumvirate of the church, military, and merchants balanced control and power over the city, ever hopeful to keep goods such as furs, timber, resin, and beeswax flowing from the vast Russian forest lands, through Riga and onto the rest of the known world. O'Connor introduces us to the infamous Livonian Brotherhood of the Sword — a military order of knights based in the city, canny and diplomatic prelates, and the notorious Brotherhood of the Blackfaces, one of the city's professional associations. From the outset, Riga was a multi-national and polyglot city, much as it remains today. Her membership in the Hanseatic League — the European economic fraternity, which enjoyed a virtual monopoly on trade — greatly enhanced the city's prestige and economic influence, as Germans, Poles, and other Hansa members established successful trading relationships with Riga's guilds. Riga's rapid adoption of Protestantism in the 16th century forged other strong links with her neighbors and separated her even further culturally from the growing might of Russia. Though Rigans cherished their independence, the history of their city is one of almost constant occupation or rule of a foreign power, as the larger players in the Baltic constantly fought to gain the prize that was the city on the Daugava. O’Connor’s accounts of German, Polish, and later Swedish occupations help readers understand why the city developed in the way it did. O'Connor leaves us at Riga’s nadir. As plague ravishes the war-torn city, Tsar Peter the Great captures Riga as part of his conquest of the Eastern Baltic in the Great Northern War, which established the Russian Empire as the preeminent naval power in the Baltic Sea, but relegates Riga to a second-tier trading hub. Moreover, O'Conner suggests, Russia's conquest of the city forces Riga to adopt "Eastern," which never sits comfortably with the centuries of Riga's primarily "Western" culture and nature. We are left hoping that perhaps now, as Riga sloughs off the Soviet occupation, she will once more take her rightful place in the Baltic’s panoply of prosperous ports. The House of Hemp and Butter is an impeccably-researched and very engagingly written account of Riga's fascinating social, economic, and political history. Kevin O'Connor is the Chair of History at Gonzaga University. Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Apr 1

60 min

In We Don't Believe You: Why Populists and the Establishment See the World Differently (Bite-Sized Book, 2019), Sir John Redwood gives us fresh insights into why the populist movements and parties have been winning elections. He looks at how the experts and narrative pushed out by the established elites on both sides of the Atlantic have met with disbelief as well as with strong opposition. He shows how great parties have been all but destroyed as election winning forces as new movements and people sweep them aside. From the establishment himself as an expert and a member of one of the traditional parties, he seeks to show how the sensible elites adjust and respond to new moods and new ideas instead of confronting or denying them. In too many cases a rigid and unhappy elite just keeps shouting back the same things people do not want to hear. One of the worst features of what is happening is the inability of the two sides to understand each other or to work together. The establishment shows scorn for the populists and keeps reasserting the same policies and attitudes as if nothing had happened. The populists show they do not believe the analysis let alone the prescription of established institutions and governments, and seek to sweep them all away. Can the main institutions of the western world adapt in time to the new mood? Sir John Redwood is Conservative MP for Wokingham in the UK, first elected in 1987. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in John Major's Cabinet, and twice a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the 1990s. He is also a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford and the author of 23 books on a wide range of subjects, from atheism in early modern British history, to 21st century economics, to politics and government. He always has very insightful and often bold things to say on all these topics. Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 31

57 min

Paul Celan's poetry marks the end of European modernism: he is the last poet of the era where the poetic "I" could center a subjective vision of the world through language. Celan bears witness to the Holocaust as the irredeemable rupture in European civilization, but he does so in German, the language of the perpetrators who murdered his parents along with millions of others. How do you bear witness to suffering, murder and loss in the language of the murderers? How can poetry account for the inhumanity of the Holocaust without aestheticizing it? How can language prevail when words fail to express what really happened to millions upon millions at the hands of a people who claimed to be the height of civilization? I spoke with Amir Eshel, a critic and poet who is also Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies and Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His books include: Poetic Thinking Today (forthcoming with Stanford University Press in 2019); Futurity: Contemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past (University of Chicago Press 2013); as editor, The German-Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange (2018), and with Uli Baer, an edited book of essays on Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt: zwischen den Disziplinen. He's published several books on poetry after the Holocaust and on writings about the Palestinian expulsion. In 2018 Amir published a book with the artist Gerhard Richter, called Zeichnungen/רישומים, a book which brings together 25 drawings by Richter from the cycle 40 Tage and Eshel’s bi-lingual poetry in Hebrew and German. Eshel first encountered Celan in Hebrew translations before learning German himself. I read Celan in (my native) German but not until I have moved to America and started writing and mostly speaking in English. Amir and I met, in a way, as an Israeli and a German, via Celan's poetry. We talked about the experience of reading Celan, how being estranged by language can come close to grasping another's experience that we will never know, and why poetry never quite lives only in a familiar idiom. Uli Baer is a professor at New York University. He is also the host of the excellent podcast "Think About It" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 31

57 min

Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction. The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 30

54 min

Germany’s winter campaign of 1941–1942 is commonly seen as the Wehrmacht's first defeat. In Retreat from Moscow: A New History of Germany's Winter Campaign, 1941-1942 (FSG, 2019), David Stahel argues that it was in fact their first strategic success in the east. The mismanaged Soviet Counteroffensive became a phyrric victory as both sides struggled with strategic leadership and supply. German generals, caught between Stalin's hammer and Hitler's anvil, found loopholes in increasingly irrational orders to hold at all costs. Drawing on official war diaries, journals, memoirs, and correspondence, Stahel's latest installment in his reevaluation of the eastern front delivers a vivid account that challenges what you thought you knew about the war in the Soviet Union. David Stahel is the author of five previous books on Nazi Germany's war against the Soviet Union. He completed an MA in war studies at King's College London in 2000 and a PhD at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 2009. His research primarily concentrates on the German military in World War II. Dr. Stahel is a senior lecturer in European history at the University of New South Wales, and he teaches at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His forthcoming book Enemies of the People: Hitler’s Critics and the Gestapo explores enforcement practices toward different social groups under Nazism. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at or @Staxomatix. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 27

73 min

Romania is a land of crossroads: of empire, of geography, and culture, shaped by centuries of rule by the Greeks, Ottomans, and Hapsburgs. The dramatically different geographic regions of Romania include flat plains and soaring mountain peaks, as well as the Danube Delta. But wherever you go in this fascinating country, you find a passion for food and a celebration of tradition. Irina Georgescu's new book, Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania (Interlink Books, 2020), is a marvelous exploration of Romania's rich culinary heritage, inspired by her family's recipe collection and her recollections of the family's "all hands on deck" approach to cooking and eating. Georgescu's family emerges as a critical ingredient in the delectable recipes the book serves up. From her colorful uncle who raised pigs for the annual nose-to-tail butchering each December to grandmothers who passed on regional methods, Georgescu's recipes are as redolent with memory and affection as they are with Romania's traditional flavors of paprika, aubergine, pork, and fresh herbs. Culinary history in Romania is complex. For centuries the country was part of the sprawling Muslim Ottoman empire, which left a legacy of small appetizer plates with delectable spreads and succulant grilled meat. The post-Ottoman Habsburg rule introduced recipes from Austria, Saxony, and Germany: rib-sticking slow braises, comforting noodle and potato dishes, as well as spicy charcuterie, tangy pickles, and fermented preserves as well as sweet jams and jellies. Carpathia is filled with recipes that run the gamut from simple spreads to complicated festive dishes. And for anyone with an adventurous streak looking to explore a new culture and cuisine, it offers a window into the fascinating traditions of Romania, emerging from decades of Communist rule to take its rightful place on the map of European culture and cuisine. Discover more about Irina Georgescu at her website or by following her delectable photography on Instagram. Jennifer Eremeeva is a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, history, and culture. She serves as the in-house travel writer for Alexander + Roberts and the food and travel columnist for The Moscow Times and is the author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 27

50 min

Steven Seegel’s Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2018) is an insightful contribution to the history of map making which is written through and by individual geographers/cartographers/map men. The book focuses primarily on four countries: Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. When guiding his reader through the entanglements of transnational endeavors of making maps, Seegel zeroes in on personal stories of five, what he calls, characters/protagonists: Albrecht Penck, Eugeniusz Romer, Stepan Rudnyts’kyi, Isaiah Bowman, and Count Pal Teleki. An individual story is an archive of biographical data and statistics, but it also opens up an entire world of history and geography that provides an insight into geopolitical decisions which eventually change and impact lives of those who happen to be part of this map journey. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Map Men offers a personalized version of how maps are drawn and made. At first glance, maps may seem stable and crystalized. However, as Seegel insightfully shows, this is an illusion: maps are fantasies, as he puts it in this interview. This understanding of maps does not in any way minimize the science that lies behind the map creating. However, what Map Men does is show the making of maps in their multiple and at times complex and intertwined processes: maps are points of references, but maps are also texts which invite a diversity of stories and interpretations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 24

47 min

While there are still occasional uses of it today, the term "Central Europe" carries little of the charge that it did in the 1980s and early 1990s, and as a political and intellectual project it has receded from the horizon. Proponents of a distinct cultural profile of these countries―all involved now in the process of Transatlantic integration―used "Central European", as a contestation with the geo-political label of Eastern Europe. In Transatlantic Central Europe: Contesting Geography and Redefining Culture beyond the Nation (Central European University Press, 2019), Jessie Labov discusses the transnational set of practices connecting journals with other media in the mid-1980s, disseminating the idea of Central Europe simultaneously in East and West. A range of new methodologies, including GIS-mapping visualization, is used, repositing the political-cultural journal as one central node of a much larger cultural system. What has happened to the liberal humanist philosophy that "Central Europe" once evoked? In the early years of the transition era, the liberal humanist perspective shared by Havel, Konrád, Kundera, and Michnik was quickly replaced by an economic liberalism that evolved into neoliberal policies and practices. The author follows the trajectories of the concept into the present day, reading its material and intellectual traces in the post-communist landscape. She explores how the current use of transnational, web-based media follows the logic and practice of an earlier, 'dissident' generation of writers. Jessie Labov is the Director of Academic and Institutional Development at McDaniel College Budapest, and a Resident Fellow in the Center for Media, Data and Society, at Central European University. Steven Seegel is a professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 20

54 min

From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History (Wayne State University Press, 2020) is the first comprehensive biography of Dawidowicz (1915-1990), a pioneer historian in the field that is now called Holocaust studies. Dawidowicz was a household name in the postwar years, not only because of her scholarship but also due to her political views. Dawidowicz, like many other New York intellectuals, was a youthful communist, became an FDR democrat midcentury, and later championed neoconservatism. Nancy Sinkoff argues that Dawidowicz's rightward shift emerged out of living in prewar Poland, watching the Holocaust unfold from New York City, and working with displaced persons in postwar Germany. Based on over forty-five archival collections, From Left to Right chronicles Dawidowicz's life as a window into the major events and issues of twentieth-century Jewish life. From Left to Right is structured in four parts. Part 1 tells the story of Dawidowicz's childhood, adolescence, and college years when she was an immigrant daughter living in New York City. Part 2 narrates Dawidowicz's formative European years in Poland, New York City (when she was enclosed in the European-like world of the New York YIVO), and Germany. Part 3 tells how Dawidowicz became an American while Polish Jewish civilization was still inscribed in her heart and also explores when and how Dawidowicz became the voice of East European Jewry for the American Jewish public. Part 4 exposes the fissure between Dawidowicz's European-inflected diaspora nationalist modern Jewish identity and the shifting definition of American liberalism from the late 1960s forward, which also saw the emergence of neoconservatism. The book includes an interpretation of her memoir From that Place and Time, as well as an appendix of thirty-one previously unpublished letters that illustrate the broad reach of her work and person. Dawidowicz's right-wing politics, sex, and unabashed commitment to Jewish particularism in an East European Jewish key have resulted in scholarly neglect. Therefore, this book is strongly recommended for scholars and general readers interested in Jewish and women's studies. Nancy Sinkoff is the Academic Director of the Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers—New Brunswick. Steven Seegel is professor of history at University of Northern Colorado. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 17

60 min

In A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard University Press, 2018), Paul Hanebrink, Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, traces the complex history of the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Hanebrink shows how Fascists, Conservatives and Nazis imagined Jewish Bolsheviks as enemies who crossed borders to subvert order from within and bring destructive ideas from abroad. This is a hundred years history that traces how this myth transformed through the Cold War period and continues to this day in new forms. Hanebrink's book breaks new ground, is based on brilliant research and is highly readable. Dr Max Kaiser teaches at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 16

38 min

Who or what originated and/or caused the Great War from breaking out in July 1914? Was it Serbia with its expansionist and aggressive designs on Austria-Hungary? Was it Austria-Hungary itself, unnecessarily plunging itself and the rest of Europe in a futile effort to keep together its tottering Monarchy? Was it Tsarist Russia? Attempting to both expand its influence in the Balkans at the expense of both Austria and Germany and at the very same time, seeking to bolster its own tottering monarchy by showing its aggrieved public that Mother Russia was backing the cause of its down-trodden, Slavic brothers. Was it Kaiserreich Germany? Aiming in the famous thesis of 20th-century German historian Fritz Fischer, to launch a Great War to establish itself as the hegemonic power on the European continent? A war which its military leaders stated repeatedly, Germany could only win if war occurred in the next few years. Was it France? Aiming in conjunction with its Russian ally to start a war with the aim of regaining the two lost provinces of Alsace-Lorraine. Was it Liberal England? Hoping for the final success of the policy of ‘encirclement’ of Germany, commenced by Edward VII? The origins of the Great War is one of the most fascinating and enthralling subjects in modern History. Which oceans of ink, almost (but not quite) matching the oceans of blood spilled during the war itself, have been devoted to the subject. From the immediate outbreak of the war to the centenary anniversary in 2014, master historians have researched and written on it. Now to bring the topic to the audience of New Books Network, are Jeremy Black, Emeritus Professor of History at Exeter University, without a doubt, the most prolific historian writing in the Anglophone world and Charles Coutinho of the Royal Historical Society. Please listen to this most interesting of podcast. Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 12

67 min

At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where the victorious Allied powers met to reenvision the map of Europe in the aftermath of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson's influence on the remapping of borders was profound. But it was his impact on the modern political structuring of Eastern Europe that would be perhaps his most enduring international legacy: neither Czechoslovakia nor Yugoslavia exist today, but their geopolitical presence persisted across the twentieth century from the end of World War I to the end of the Cold War. They were created in large part thanks to Wilson's advocacy, and in particular, his Fourteen Points speech of January 1918, which hinged in large part on the concept of national self-determination. But despite his deep involvement in the region's geopolitical transformation, President Wilson never set eyes on Eastern Europe, and never traveled to a single one of the eastern lands whose political destiny he so decisively influenced. Eastern Europe, invented in the age of Enlightenment by the travelers and philosophies of Western Europe, was reinvented on the map of the early twentieth century with the crucial intervention of an American president who deeply invested his political and emotional energies in lands that he would never visit. Larry Wolff's new book Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe (Stanford University Press, 2020) traces how Wilson's emerging definition of national self-determination and his practical application of the principle changed over time as negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference unfolded. Larry Wolff exposes the contradictions between Wilson's principles and their implementation in the peace settlement for Eastern Europe, and sheds light on how his decisions were influenced by both personal relationships and his growing awareness of the history of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires. Steven Seegel is a professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 6

57 min

Olivier Roy, who is professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies in the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, is one of the most influential analysts of religion and secularisation in late modernity. Today he joins us to talk about his new book, Is Europe Christian?, which was published by Hurst in 2019 and Oxford University Press in 2020. Roy wrote the book to intervene in contemporary debates among European populists who lay claim to the Christian heritage of Europe without often embracing its values. This important new book is some ways a meditation on the success of the countercultural values of the 1960s, which have become so embedded in the legal and political cultures of late modernity as to be virtually unassailable, even by conservative forces that campaign against them. What does the success of 1960s values mean for the reiteration of religious identities? And how have the European churches responded to the appropriation of their heritage by political forces who may not adopt or even approve of the moral values they espouse? Professor Roy’s new book is an important contribution to a very difficult discussion. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Mar 3

32 min

In Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), Sarah Abrevaya Stein weaves a narrative tapestry whose threads are drawn from the archives of one Sephardic family, with roots in the city of Salonica, then in the Ottoman Empire, now Thessaloniki in Greece. The story begins with one of the prominent Jewish citizens of that thriving port city, then follows the family in its dispersion through nine countries across three continents during the most tumultuous and violent years of the twentieth century. This fascinating book is not only a masterful work of archival research but of storytelling. Professor Stein deftly portrays the vivid personalities that comprise the family, even as she teaches valuable lessons about the Sephardic culture in which they were firmly implanted. Professor Stein also ponders important questions about the nature of personal, family, and cultural memories, and the importance of the vanishing art of written correspondence -- and the way history, properly told, can restore and revive buried narratives, and the relationships that gave them life. The result is a masterwork of historical narrative, and a story beautifully told. David Gottlieb, a member of the teaching faculty at Spertus Institute in Chicago, received his PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2018. He is the author of Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press, 2019). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Feb 28

50 min

The Baltics are about to be thrust onto the world stage. With a 'belligerent' Vladimir Putin to their east (and 'expansionist' NATO to their west), Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are increasingly the subject of unsettling headlines in both Western and Russian media. But how real are these fears, subject as they are to media embellishment, qualification and denial by both Russia and the West? What do they mean for those living in the Baltics - and for the world? In The Shadow in the East: Vladimir Putin and the New Baltic Front (I. B. Tauris, 2020), Aliide Naylor takes us inside the geopoltitics of the region. Travelling to the heart of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania she explores modernity in the region that birthed Skype, investigates smuggling and reports of troop movements in the borderlands, and explains the countries' unique cultural identities. Naylor tells us why the Baltics matter, arguing persuasively that this region is about to become the new frontline in the political struggle between East and West. Aliide Naylor is a freelance journalist focusing on Russia and eastern Europe, her writing has appeared in The Guardian, New Statesman, POLITICO Europe, frieze, Vice, among others. Naylor has travelled to all corners of the Baltic states and has also lived in both St. Petersburg and Moscow, where she served as Arts Editor at The Moscow Times. Steven Seegel is professor of history at University of Northern Colorado. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Feb 27

52 min

How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the future of criticism. The book is packed with interview material, coupled with accessible and easy to follow theoretical interventions, creating a text that will be of interest to social sciences, humanities, and general readers alike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Feb 25

41 min

Alex J. Kay (senior lecture of History at Potsdam University in Berlin) and David Stahel (senior lecturer in History at the University of New South Wales in Canberra) have edited a groundbreaking series of articles on German mass killing and violence during World War II. Four years in the making, this collection of articles spans the breadth of research on these topics and includes some non-English speaking scholars for the first time in a work of this magnitude. Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe (Indiana UP, 2018) argues for a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes Nazi violence and who was affected by this violence. The works gathered consider sexual violence, food depravation, and forced labor as aspects of Nazi aggression. Contributors focus in particular on the Holocaust, the persecution of the Sinti and Roma, the eradication of "useless eaters" (psychiatric patients and Soviet prisoners of war), and the crimes of the Wehrmacht. The collection concludes with a consideration of memorialization and a comparison of Soviet and Nazi mass crimes. While it has been over 70 years since the fall of the Nazi regime, the full extent of the ways violence was used against prisoners of war and civilians is only now coming to be fully understood. Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe provides new insight into the scale of the violence suffered and brings fresh urgency to the need for a deeper understanding of this horrific moment in history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Feb 11

40 min

If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of things, an easy source of advice might not be there for you. Thankfully, for anybody who wishes there was a guidebook that would just break all of this down, that book has now been written. Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (Stylus Publishing, 2020) by Kathryn E. Linder, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas J. Tobin offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to decide if you want to leave behind academia and how to start searching for a new career. If a lot of career advice is too vague or too ambiguous, this book corrects that by outlining not just how to figure out what you might want to do, but critically, how you might go about accomplishing that. Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jan 30

40 min

Holocaust research tends to concentrate on certain geographic regions. We know much about the Holocaust in Poland, Germany and Western Europe. We are learning more and more about the 'Holocaust by Bullets' in the territories of the Soviet Union. This is obviously a good thing. But that emphasis leaves us knowing much less about other regions in Europe. In particular we know less about those areas annexed or subordinated to Germany before the outbreak of war in September of 1939. Wolf Gruner has devoted much of an extraordinarily productive career thinking about these territories. His most recent contribution, The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia: Czech Initiatives, German Policies, Jewish Responses (Berghahn Books, 2019) looks at the Reichs protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Gruner is particularly interested in examining the interplay between local initiatives and the policies and desires of German officials. But his study also alerts us to the danger of assuming that German policies worked in the same way and had the same impact in different spaces. The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia bore some similarities to that in other places, but also differed in ways that lead to new questions and approaches. Gruner has written an important book, one that all interested in the Holocaust should wrestle with. Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jan 23

61 min

How did the Iron Curtain shape the Federal Republic of Germany? How did the internal border become a proving ground for rival ideologies? West Germany and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands (Oxford University Press 2019) explores these battles in the most sensitive geographic spaces of the Federal Republic. Join us for a conversation with Astrid M. Eckert illuminating how the border reflected Cold War debates back to society in ways that continue to shape German history. In a fascinating exploration of economic dislocation, border tourism, and the first environmental history of the wall, Eckert shows how borders become actors in their own right. Astrid M. Eckert is an Associate Professor of History at Emory University in Atlanta where she teaches 19th- and 20th-century German and European history. Her research has contributed to the Historical Commission on the History of the German Foreign Office, while her book on The Struggle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War received the Waldo Gifford Leland Award. You can listen to an interview with Eckert about The Struggle for the Files here. Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His forthcoming book Enemies of the People: Hitler's Critics and the Gestapo explores enforcement practices toward different social groups under Nazism. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at or @Staxomatix. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jan 22

61 min

Gediminas Lankauskas’ new book The Land of Weddings and Rain: Nation and Modernity in Post-Socialist Lithuania (University of Toronto Press, 2015) is “an ethnography concerned with the ambiguities, paradoxes, ruptures and incongruities of social life brought about by processes of global 'modernization' in a periphery of post-socialist Eastern Europe” (5). In the book, Lankauskas explores Lithuanians’ pursuit of “modernity”, combining archival and ethnographic data. Anthropological theory problematizes both the perceived universal character of Western modernity and the expected, linear development for its achievement. Research in post-socialist countries is an important consideration in these discussions, as people there have already been exposed to more than one modernization projects during a short time span. Lankauskas explores how the multiple modernities which Lithuanians have dreamt of and experienced interact with each other, with “tradition” and with Lithuanianness. The author embeds this discussion in the context of the Lithuanian, urban wedding celebration, a rite of passage in which references to both the past and the future are salient. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Jan 10

83 min

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