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I WILL SHOW YOU HOW IT WAS by Illia Ponomarenko Kirkus Star


The Story of Wartime Kyiv

by Illia Ponomarenko

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9781639733873
Publisher: Bloomsbury

A remarkable on-the-ground report from the Battle of Kyiv in 2022.

War reporting is perhaps the most difficult branch of journalism. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer drama: the blood and the thunder, the sense of history being written, the images and the noise. Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian journalist and co-founder of an online newspaper called the Kyiv Independent, makes no attempt to be impartial in his account of the roughly six-week battle for Kyiv, a city that he loved. “We were just moments away,” he writes, “from bidding farewell to our home and our way of life.” He kept posting his reports during and after the battle, describing the invasion as “one of the most tragic—and the most bizarre—events in modern history,” serving as “the opening act of the biggest European bloodbath since 1945, and one of the most shamelessly trumped-up, absurd, and unnecessary wars the world had ever seen.” The author mixes in pieces of the increasingly unbelievable statements from the Russian government, with Putin claiming victory even as his tanks were reduced to smoking wrecks. Ponomarenko notes that it was often hard to see through the fog of war, but the Russian attacks on the city’s civilian precincts told their own stories. In fact, the slaughter of innocents merely hardened the resolve of the Ukrainian population to endure and fight. The author ends with the Russians retreating to their strongholds in the east. While he believes that Ukrainian forces will eventually prevail, the cost is massive. The book lives up to its title, with countless pages that are alternately heart-rending, stomach-churning, and even inspiring. This is an important story, and Ponomarenko tells it with passion and intelligence.

A revelatory portrait of the horror and absurdity of the conflict spiked with much-needed threads of humanity and hope.