You can find it here on Amazon. The image here doesn't do justice to the artwork. You need to look at the original on Amazon to see the horror. Here it just looks like an abstract painting.
I'm not very good at reviewing books that make a strong impression on me. I start the review, often half way through the book, struggling to express my strong feelings. Then I finish the book, but not the review.
I have half finished reviews for Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson, and Imagining the Balkans by Maria Todorova. In the same vein I am in the middle of reading History in Exile by Pamela Ballinger. They are all by social anthropologists writing about history, memory and identity. I think if I had my time again this is a field I would have liked to have gone into. I find this sort of history, where real people struggle to explain what they experienced, in the light of what historians tell them was "really" happening at the time, absolutely fascinating. As well as the language they use to describe it, often with religious symbolism even for communists.
Ballinger is writing about Italians in the Julian March and Istria between Italy and Yugoslavia, some of whom went into exile in Trieste when the border shifted after the Second World War from Italy to Yugoslavia, and some of those who did not. The book is a lot of firsts for me:
first for the history of the region
which I knew nothing about, except my sister's hints of dark deeds after the war. Have you heard of the foibe (underground caverns with spiky stalactites into which fascists and others were thrown by partisans) or the Nazi concentration camp in Trieste which finished off Italian Jews and anti fascists alike?
first for a history of exiles
apart from some novels about the Greek exodus from Turkey in the 20s, and Russian Jews leaving for Israel and their recollections of the Soviet Union. Why do some not assimilate but cling to their exile status? Why did Italy "submerge" the history of the exiles like the people "submerged" in the foibe? Why do they feel like exiles in their own country? How long do refugees stay in camps and how do they feel about their life there?
first for a social anthropology study in the Balkans
and how the complex memory is constructed first in the redemption from the Austrians after the First World War, then reconstructed during and after the Second World War (who was Fascist and who anti-fascist) and finally (perhaps) in the 90s, with ethnic cleansing in other parts of the Balkans, was history rewritten (or "unsubmerged") from political lines into nationalist Italian v Slovene/Croatian lines). Old myths of the good Italian and the savage Balkan are revived, which have nothing to do with today's reality in 2007 in the EU, but seemed more relevant in the 90s. And finally I understand what irredentism is.
Maybe I will be able to write something more when I finish the book.
I wonder whether anyone will ever do similar studies for the upheavals of Stalin's Russia, eg the Crimean Tartars, before everyone who experienced them is dead. And what about the people of the Austro-Hungarian border with Ukraine, where similar border changes have occurred. How do they decide who they are, and what sort of memories do they have? How do they keep their nationality intact? And what are their memories of the World Wars when during the fighting borders moved backwards and forwards? Who are the goodies and the baddies? Has glasnost and the breakup of the Soviet Union allowed a hidden story (ies) to emerge?