Michael Markowski Reviews Estonia’s Eastern Europe War Story

Coming Home

Beginning with the author’s return to Estonia in 1982 to meet relatives not seen for nearly four decades, Ehin chronicles not only the bloody results of the back-and-forth War as it battered Eastern Europe, but also day-to-day life of soul-smothering bureaucracy, tyrannical policies and burning prejudice that survived the war. The story is told in the first-person in a way that brings the reader right into Eastern Europe, to the moment at hand with its troubled history. With his eye for the “small” detail, the story comes alive, and points to the larger, underlying conflicts of past and present.

Coming Home shows the current problems in Eastern Europe and describes the past history that has led to these problems. It does so without losing the emotion of the moment. Coming Home is a valuable exposé of a courageous people who faced horrors beyond belief, a people whose story is seldom told in the West and a story about war and its aftermath that needs to be heard in a country involved in conflict, and likely to face greater conflict.

Coming Home reveals the heart-wrenching catastrophe of war, whether for victim, perpetrator, by-stander or hero. When blood is spilled, there are no winners, only various kinds of pain. The author reveals some of his own deeply personal hurts and confusions, both as a boy struggling with an adult world-gone-berserk, and as a man who returned and tries to understand.

Coming Home takes us through a world of Eastern European history seldom seen. Throughout the book, both author and story keep alive a hope — a hope for reform, for progress, for a potential that certainly IS there — a hope that this potential for peace and understanding might become reality in us all. To say that the book is deeply-moving, enlightening and currently necessary is to border on cliché, but it is that. And more. Coming Home is well-told, historically accurate and with a message that needs to be heard sooner rather than later.

A warrior, it is said, understands war best. Ehin has that understanding, and out of it, brings us a provocative story and his own insightful observations to try to put warriors out of business, and back into life.