How can a country at peace suddenly be plunged into war? What compels hitherto peaceable citizens to take up arms and kill one another? In For Want of a Fir Tree: Ukraine Undone, Frédérick Lavoie tells Artyom, a four-year-old child he saw lying in his little blue coffin on a January afternoon in 2015, about the sequence of events that led to his death. In doing so, and in travelling the country from one side to the other, talking to people from all walks of life in both camps, Lavoie tells a compelling story of a land drawn into conflict through misadventure, misjudgment, mistrust, and a legacy of ancient historical resentments with a tenacious hold on their populations. It is a cautionary tale whose truths and whose lessons resonate far beyond these specific events, these particular borders.
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