Cover image for Walking since daybreak : a story of Eastern Europe, World War II, and the heart of our century
Walking since daybreak : a story of Eastern Europe, World War II, and the heart of our century
Eksteins, Modris.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 258 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Peter Davison book."
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DK502.74 .E39 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Based on personal experiences the author offers this history of the Baltic nations describing their brief independence after World War I, their devastation during World War II, and their annexation into the Soviet Union.

Author Notes

Modris Eksteins was born in Latvia in 1943 & is currently a professor of history at the University of Toronto at Scarborough.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Although every refugee memoir is intrinsically valuable testimony, their literary and analytical qualities vary greatly with the writer. Eksteins' account of his family's exile from his ancestral Latvia rates highly in those respects. A historian, he footnotes abundantly without allowing academic conventions to dominate his account of the disasters visited upon the Baltic states since 1914. His method is not strictly chronological, e.g., scenes of his family's postwar limbo in displaced-persons (DP) camps alternate with scenes about his grandfather's cartage business in Riga. Born in 1943, Eksteins was an infant when his father, a Baptist preacher who had by some fluke eluded the Soviet anticlergy dragnet in 1940, decided not to tempt fate a second time. The Eksteins fled before the Red Army's advance and languished like millions as DPs. They were lucky; instead of being "repatriated" to the gulag, Canada let them in. Limning the horrors visited upon the ethnically tangled eastern Baltic borderlands, Eksteins recounts with laconic feeling his clan's small place in a gigantic cataclysm. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

The author of the highly praised Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (1989) has undertaken more than he can deliver in this book. Eksteins's attempt at a new literary genre, combining the story of his family with the history of his native country Latvia, fails. As in his earlier work, the prose is impeccable (one can even say commanding), but the weaving together of the personal with the general does not a book make. For fiction it is not fictitious enough and for history it is too erratic. The work has shades of Jerzy Kozinski's Painted Bird (CH, Jan'66) on the one hand and Binjamin Wilkomirski's Fragments (1996) on the other. Ultimately it is Ekstein's arrogant attitude toward Eastern Europe and his native land that mars the book's credibility. In fiction one can be as nasty as one wants to be, but in history a moralizer needs to be on top of his subject. As the text shows, Eksteins, a historian of modern Europe, has neglected to master the history of his Latvia. The loss is the reader's. Sporadic footnoting. A. Ezergailis; Ithaca College

Table of Contents

Prologuep. ix
1 The Girl with the Flaxen Hairp. 1
2 A Man, a Cart, a Countryp. 33
3 Baltic Battlesp. 61
4 Displacedp. 96
5 Bear Slayer Streetp. 131
6 Odysseyp. 171
Acknowledgmentsp. 221
Concordance of Place Namesp. 223
Notesp. 224
Indexp. 248