Book Review: Illya Titko, “Blood Formula”, translated by Jeffrey Stephaniuk, Regina, Benchmark Press, 2021, 210 p.

By Gianluca Cinelli

Senior Lieutenant Illya Titko is a combat veteran from Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine. He was drafted in September 2015, or rather, he volunteered for the mobilization that was underway. Mr. Titko writes his book from the per­spective of a citizen-soldier, as a man who continued to maintain one foot firmly in the civilian world, even though his new environment was a war zone, and “war is when your entire world is turned upside down.”

Jeffrey Stephaniuk, the excellent translator of this book, introduces with these words the author (at p. 6), highlighting the perspective from which the whole story is told: that of a “citizen in arms”, a man who has answered the impellent call of duty when his country was in dire danger. Titko himself adds some remarks a few pages later:

It was not an easy task for me to write this book. It was a real inner struggle, for over a year, on whether I should write it or not. But I was pre-occupied with those past events, mulling that chaotic time over and over in my mind, conscious of the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago when I lived through them. There were nights when I couldn’t even sleep. I’d argue with myself: Should I or should I not write this book? I clearly understood that not only should I write this book, but it was nec­essary for this book be written. First, it was necessary so that everything I ex­perienced would have its place and not become lost in the subsequent living of my everyday life. I needed to write this book so that those who hadn’t been there personally could know about these events. I wanted them to know what happened and how they happened to those involved, with the people, with the country, and of course all those individuals who resolved to walk this same path, namely sol­diers defending their country. I realized that such a book would be necessary for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, so that they would have access to first-hand accounts about these difficult and stormy days and nights in the history of our nation. (12)

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Book Review: Claire Langhamer, Lucy Noakes and Claudia Siebrecht (eds.). “Total War. An Emotional History”. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000

By Simona Tobia

Total War. An Emotional History features some of the most renowned scholars in the fields of the history of emotions and war and culture studies, but the value of the book goes well beyond the expertise of its authors. The eight studies in this edited collection place “the emotions of war centre stage” (Langhamer, Noakes & Siebrecht, Total War: 1) and investigate the intensity and impact of emotions in the total wars of the 20th century. By proposing to use “emotions” as an analytical tool, they also recognize the transformative power of these emotions and consider their linguistic, cultural and physiological dimensions. The volume’s methodological thrust is to use the “expression of emotion” as an analytical category and to study the “emotional agency of historical actors” to then reach new conclusions on motivation and causation in the context of total war.

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