"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yalta and the Post-War Treatment of Eastern Christians

In another life I think I would have been a military historian. As it is, the two world wars of the past century continue to raise all sorts of fascinating questions. E.g., did the Allies--Britain in particular--"fail" in WWII not merely in the sense that Britain lost her empire after the war, and emerged broke and shabby, but in the sense that the express aim in 1939 was the liberation of Poland. In 1945 Poland merely moved from being Nazi-occupied to being Communist-run as a result of the "deals" made at Yalta between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, the latter often being portrayed as the mendacious and ruthless statesman who played the other two off against each other, taking advantage of the fact that Roosevelt was a very ill man. One of the many results of Yalta, according to recent research of Serhii Plokhy, was the freedom Stalin had even during the Yalta negotiations to move in to destroy the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church. (For more detailed study, see here and here.)

Serhii Plokhy's historical research previously has done much to shed light on religion in Ukraine and Russia in books that Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies has reviewed over the years. His latest book is Yalta: The Price of Peace (Viking, 2010), 480pp.

The publisher tells us that based on unprecedented archival research, Plokhy unearths a much more complicated picture, and shows that Roosevelt was not duped the way it was often believed. The publisher further says that if you enjoyed Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (and I did--immensely) you will enjoy this.

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