Estonia’s coveted position between Europe and Russia has lured wave after wave of occupiers. The nation’s darkest chapter, though, dawned in 1939 with the arrival of the Soviets. It seemed this time that the Estonian nation might vanish completely; yet the Estonians waited, and fought, and sang and ultimately, survived.

The Singing Revolution narrates the remarkable story of this tiny nation’s struggle for independence, illuminating how the Estonians kept their identity alive even under the oppressive weight of the Iron Curtain through a rich tradition of song. Here, people have joined voices for centuries, and their Laulupidu an immense song festival offered glimmers of Estonian culture and connectedness in even the bleakest periods, proving to The Singing People that their national spirit still smoldered. When the Soviet nation finally began to crumble in the 1980s, the Estonians saw their opportunity: free speech became song, and song became a soaring anthem of independence.

Dramatically capturing the spectacular beauty of Estonia and the overwhelming sea of people and sound that brought this nation together, The Singing Revolution celebrates a people who revolted with no weapons but their songs, no force but their unstoppable dream.


Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolution. But song was the weapon of choice when Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. “The Singing Revolution” is an inspiring account of one nation’s dramatic rebirth. It is also an evocation of humankind’s irrepressible drive for freedom and self-determination.


The book is a quick read. I wasn’t expecting that. But, it’s every bit as uplifting and inspirational as the documentary. Seeing a country find their identity through song feels like something out of a movie. But, it’s presented here in real-life glory. While this isn’t for every reader, it’s a strong recommendation for all. 


Given Estonia’s small size, armed resistance would have been completely futile and only led to more suffering. Russia was 300 times the size of Estonia, whose population was barely more than one million. The Soviet Red Army, the largest armed force in the world at that time, was more than prepared to crush any form of armed resistance. Yet it was no match for hundreds of thousands of nonviolent Estonians singing their way to freedom. When this nonviolent resistance movement began in the mid-1980s, taking advantage of the limited space made possible by reforms enacted by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviets had no clue what was coming. By all conventional measures, they had things under complete control.

The book keeps the above mantra throughout the entire book. A lesser reader might feel overwhelmed by the overindulgence in Soviet Era Politics. But, if you forgo the politics for the heart-warming story, you miss the point. Hopefully, people won’t miss the point and pick up this book. It’s a great read and it’s going into the AV Holiday Gift Guide. Which is coming soon, people. Enough with the e-mails.



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