The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence by Anatol Lieven. Although it was written in 1993, shortly after the Baltic nations won their independence from the Soviet Union, the book still holds true in its coverage of history and its description of the issues in each of these countries today. It is challenging reading, and only the first part examines the history of the area that most researchers are interested in, but reading it provides the realization that these peoples survived
50 years of Soviet domination and now lived in a democratic society. A visit to these countries only solidifies the truth of this perspective.
Born for Freedom by Lina Zilionyte. This novel begins in Lithuania in the early 1950s and traces the life of a young Lithuanian girl as she is educated in the Soviet system. At Vilnius University her decision not to join the Communist party leads eventually leads her to leave Lithuania for the American-Lithuania neighborhoods of Chicago. Although fictionalized, her dream of a free Lithuania remains in her mind as does her own desire to be free. Her life in American covers the remainder of the novel.
Underground: A Novel by Antanas Sileika. The story takes place during the time of the Forest Brothers (1944 to 1948) when the world forgot about the suppression of the Baltic countries as they fell under Soviet oppression for 50 years. Based on true events, the story unfolds amid Lithuanian history as young men and women formed a resistance movement for Lithuanian nationalism. The role of the western nations, or lack thereof, is revealed as the resistance movement disintegrates. The story centers around two partisans, Lukas and Elena, members of the underground who are forced into underground bunkers, but eventually discovered. In the ensuing plot as Lucas escapes but returns to find Elena.
Running Away to Home: Our Family’s Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters by Jennifer Wilson. This book is not about Lithuania, but is about an American family who decides to return to live in an ancestral village in eastern Europe, not Lithuania but Croatia. Although not a genealogy, but with genealogical pursuit, the author uproots her family from Iowa to return to the small Croatian mountain village of Mrkopalj for almost a year. Their adjustment to living conditions, their thirst to understand the people and to be accepted forms the foundation of the book. For a researcher, it sets the genealogical search in juxtaposition with the necessity of understanding the geographical and cultural aspects which lead to a more complete understanding of the homeland of one’s ancestors.
For Travel in Baltics:
Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania: The Guides that show you what others only tell you. Eye Witness travel. First American edition 2009, reprinted 2013. Doring Kindersley Limited, London. See also Traveldk.com.
I found this volume to be very handy in referencing the sites that most travelers visit in the Baltics. The pictures were exceptional, and the text helpful. Before, during, and after our Road Scholar tour this volume was very helpful in identifying places of interest, especially afterwards to help identify photographs.