I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
Author Greta Lynn Ueehling takes readers on an emotional and harsh journey into the realities of noncombatants living in constant warzones in the book “Everyday War: The Conflict Over Donbas, Ukraine”.
Everyday War provides an accessible lens through which to understand what noncombatant civilians go through in a country at war. What goes through the mind of a mother who must send her child to school across a minefield or the men who belong to groups of volunteer body collectors? In Ukraine, such questions have been part of the daily calculus of life. Greta Uehling engages with the lives of ordinary people living in and around the armed conflict over Donbas that began in 2014 and shows how conventional understandings of war are incomplete.
In Ukraine, landscapes filled with death and destruction prompted attentiveness to human vulnerabilities and the cultivation of everyday, interpersonal peace. Uehling explores a constellation of social practices where ethics of care were in operation. People were also drawn into the conflict in an everyday form of war that included provisioning fighters with military equipment they purchased themselves, smuggling insulin, and cutting ties to former friends. Each chapter considers a different site where care can produce interpersonal peace or its antipode, everyday war.
Bridging the fields of political geography, international relations, peace and conflict studies, and anthropology, Everyday War considers where peace can be cultivated at an everyday level.
This was a gripping and thought-provoking read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the heart and emotion of the subjects that are interviewed throughout this book while also providing a clear and concise image of the direction that the conflict in the Donbas region had taken during this time. In light of the recent changes of events that have seen Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it the importance of understanding how conflict impacts everyone, not just the politicians ordering the war or the soldiers fighting on the front lines, but the people and noncombatants who are stuck in the middle of this conflict, is more crucial than ever before.
What really stands out to me about this book was the author’s approach to the subject. Rather than focusing on the more scholarly or regimented facts about the situation, the book hones in on the more personal and emotional moments of the conflict. The blend of personal interviews with Ukrainian citizens who experienced the conflict firsthand, along with the author’s own foray into the war-torn nation and the experiences that the author and these individuals all shared showcased the deeper meaning of modern-day warfare. Far more often than not, war is being fought not on some distant isolated land or battlefield, but in residential neighborhoods and people’s private lands and even major metropolitan cities within the nations fighting with one another. The emotional impact of these stories, especially when combined with the imagery and videography showcasing the horrors Ukraine is still enduring, all bring together the theme of finding peace and hope in times of great distress and chaos, especially in a military-driven war.
Heartfelt, important, and engaging, author Greta Lynn Uehling’s “Everyday War” is a must-read nonfiction book on the political and sociological effects of war, in particular the conflict nearly a decade earlier in the Donbas region. The way the author was able to bring to light the multitude of “players” in the field aside from the soldiers themselves, as well as the devastating losses people endured during the war, from property loss and injuries to emotional distress and even loss of loved ones, helped readers to gain a better, more nuanced yet equally moving idea of what these battles do to those struggling to survive in the midst of war and hopefully paved a path for future conflicts to be avoided or fought on a different road. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Greta Uehling began her career by working directly with refugees, helping them find work in the United States. Her experiences in refugee resettlement motivated her to pursue a PhD in cultural anthropology, and have informed her career ever since.
After earning her PhD, she became a consultant with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, working in the Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit. Her work on irregular migration there led to another migration-related position as a Family Reunification Coordinator for minors smuggled across United States borders from Latin America and China, in Washington, DC.
Named after the globe-trotting Swedish actress Greta Garbo, she has traveled and worked in many regions. Her interviewees have often remarked about the rapport they feel during conversations. Her colleagues in anthropology note how this rapport, and Uehling’s writing, centers previously unheard voices.
With her current project, Uehling sought to tell the story of internal displacement in Ukraine in a way that is multivocal. She uses the language of lived experience to take readers on a journey through Ukraine that deepens understanding and solidarity.
Uehling dedicated Everyday War to her students because they inspire her to write with their many and insightful questions.
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