Illia Ponomarenko's Memoir Chronicles Kyiv's Resistance During 2022 Russian Invasion

Illia Ponomarenko, a former defense reporter, is releasing his memoir about his experiences during Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The book, "I Will Show You How It Was," provides a personal and emotional account of the conflict and the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

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Rizwan Shah
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Illia Ponomarenko's Memoir Chronicles Kyiv's Resistance During 2022 Russian Invasion

Illia Ponomarenko's Memoir Chronicles Kyiv's Resistance During 2022 Russian Invasion

Illia Ponomarenko, a former defense reporter for the Kyiv Independent, is set to release his memoir, "I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv" on May 7, 2024. Published by Bloomsbury, the book provides a visceral and personal account of Ponomarenko's experiences during Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, specifically the battle for Kyiv.

Why this matters: The release of Ponomarenko's memoir sheds light on the human cost of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, providing a personal and emotional account of the conflict that can help raise awareness and build empathy among readers. Additionally, the book's focus on the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people can serve as a powerful symbol of resistance against authoritarian aggression.

On the day of the invasion, Ponomarenko drove 12 hours to meet his girlfriend Natalia's parents, Galyna and Oleksander, in the countryside. There, they took in his Russian-speaking mother, who had fled Donbas. "Happy 30th birthday to me," Ponomarenko recounted about that day. He soon returned to Kyiv to resume reporting for the fledgling Kyiv Independent, which lacked an office at the time.

Ponomarenko, a 32-year-old native Russian speaker from southern Donbas, had initially planned to write a technical military history book. However, the memoir he ultimately penned is a more personal and emotionally charged account. "War is about life itself. That was life at the very extreme. It holds beautiful and ugly things all together,"Ponomarenko reflected. "You are a victim of this war too, apart from being a war reporter."

The book captures the beauty, tragedy, and chaos experienced by ordinary people working to save themselves and humanity during the war. Ponomarenko's writing style is characterized by informality and emotional intensity, addressing readers as "fellow humans" or "friends." He unapologetically uses swear words to convey the raw emotions of the conflict. "I'm not proud of that, but still, it's a sincere conversation between humans," he explained.

Ponomarenko's memoir serves as a sequel to his previous stories published in the Bulletin and other media outlets. His rise as one of the war's biggest media personalities, with 1.2 million Twitter followers, has contributed to his reputation. Der Spiegel dubbed him "likely the best-known Ukrainian after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy." On Twitter, Ponomarenko rallies humanity to support Ukraine.

"Half of the world was burying Ukraine alive, giving us 42 to 72 hours. Not much hope. So many odds against us. We were facing a giant death army that was prepared to finish us off within days," Ponomarenko recounted. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Ukraine sustained the critical blow and unexpectedly dealt Russia its greatest defeat of the war, spelling an end to the Kremlin's plans for an easy conquest.

Illia Ponomarenko's memoir, "I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv," offers a deeply personal and emotionally resonant account of life in Ukraine's capital during the 2022 Russian invasion. Through his unique perspective as a war reporter and native of Donbas, Ponomarenko sheds light on the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Key Takeaways

  • Illia Ponomarenko's memoir, "I Will Show You How It Was", releases on May 7, 2024.
  • The book provides a personal account of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Ponomarenko's writing style is informal and emotionally intense, addressing readers directly.
  • The memoir highlights the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people.
  • Ponomarenko's story serves as a powerful symbol of resistance against authoritarian aggression.