The reader cannot do better than this book when trying to understand events leading to the renewal of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian independence. Lieven, however, provides more than a full history of the last six years, considerably enhanced by his first-hand observations as a reporter for The Times of London stationed in the region from 1990-92. Nearly half the book traces the history of the Baltic states back to the beginning, with special stress on the twentieth-century historical context of today's great events. These chapters include fine portraits of the peoples who live there, including the Baltic Russians.
Lieven, a descendant of a Baltic German family from Latvia, brings a stern, discerning eye to the politicians and players on all sides. His judgments are frank and unvarnished. The book is without heroes. Nearly all the key personalities, even those of great strength and courage, emerge with notable shortcomings. History, in this instance, is involved and human, not mythical.