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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Baltic Facades

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1945

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Baltic Facades

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1945

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are often grouped together as the Baltic States, but these three Eastern European countries, tied together historically, are quite different. Although each is struggling to find its place within Europe and fighting to preserve its own identity, the idea of the Baltic States is a façade. In this book, Aldis Purs dispels the myth of a single, coherent Baltic identity, presenting a radical new view of the region.

Baltic Façades illuminates the uniqueness of these three countries and locates them within the larger context of European history, also revealing the similarities they share with the rest of the continent. He also examines the anxiety the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania feel about their own identities and how others see them. Giving equal weight to developments in politics, economics, and social and cultural trends, he places contemporary events in a longer perspective than traditional Cold War-inspired views of the region, tracing the countries under Soviet rule after the end of World War II through their declarations of independence in the early 1990s and their admission to the European Union in 2004. Baltic Façades is an enlightening look at these three separate, though related, Eastern European countries.

203 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2012

Contemporary Worlds

History: European History

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“[Purs] shifts easily between the broader analysis and the telling details that make each country’s experience distinctive. Overall, this is a lucidly written introduction to the region and its peoples.”


 “All in all, it is a pleasant book to read: the language is rich and flowing, the text is clear. . . . The book is valuable for drawing the lines of similarity across time and space, and because of its orientation to reproduce the established narratives rather than criticize them. Our understandings, when delivered in a new light—stripped to their core, displayed against one another and reformulated in common-sense terms—may yield refreshing new views.”

Journal of Baltic Studies

“This book is the first and so far the only monographic exploration of the historically omnipresent and continuing tension between an externally imposed regionalism and three internally generated national identities in which the ‘Baltic’ concept is perhaps useful in times of crises but not descriptive of their sense of self; it is also the first to explore in great detail the difference between substance and image in the region . . . very satisfying to read . . . [a] well-written and informative essay.” 


“[An] excellent study . . . enjoyable to read . . . Purs has written a lucid and stimulating account of recent Baltic history with an emphasis on identity which can be warmly recommended for students, travellers, businessmen, and indeed anyone interested in understanding this neglected corner of Europe.” 

European History Quarterly

“This brilliantly written book tells the prominent history of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, stressing political, social, and economical aspects. It is a story of great changes during the twentieth century and of new challenges after 1990 and 1991.” 

Jens E. Olesen, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald

Table of Contents


1. Historical Background
2. Potemkin Republics
3. Soviet Union to European Union
4. Economic Developments
5. Identity
6. Prospects

Further Reading

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