The eastern Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia were for centuries subject to conquest and domination, and their histories are little understood in the larger world. Here Egremont tells the stories of the figures who inhabited this region: warriors and victims, philosophers and Baltic barons, poets and artists, rebels and emperors—and more
... fascinating ... A restlessly enquiring guide, Egremont interviews Latvian and Estonian businessmen, academics and editors, as well as elderly survivors of Hitler’s war against Riga’s Jewry ... With rare narrative, Egremont offers an elegy for a forgotten land, where east meets west and the winters never end.
... [a] fascinating account ... a collection of encounters with these noble families, and Egremont introduces us to a wide cast of them, so wide that sometimes you might find yourself looking for a crib sheet of names, the sort they helpfully insert at the front of fat Russian novels. What strikes you while reading is how few native Estonians and Latvians are met along the way. We hear them echoing through the past in the snatches of bawdy song sung by the peasantry on summer nights while reaping the harvest ... But for writers such as Egremont this complex relationship with the past makes for fertile territory, and The Glass Wall succeeds in delivering a rich, nuanced account of life on 'the Baltic frontier'.
The rich and tragic history of an obscure part of the world ... Egremont seems to have read every Baltic German novelist, visited every notable town, and tracked down every living witness to its history. The narrative sometimes meanders, but the book contains a helpful gazetteer and chronology. The text requires serious concentration, but diligent readers are rewarded with a near-total immersion into a land, its people, and the harrowing arc of its history. An intricately layered account of the eastern Baltic, a land shaped by colonization, revolution, deportation, and murder.