The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine

Serhii Plokhy. Basic, $29.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-465-05091-8
Injecting appropriate nuance and complexity into a single-volume overview of 2,000 years of Ukrainian history is no small task, but Plokhy (The Last Empire), the Mykhailo Hrushevsky professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University, approaches this charge with dexterity and skill. Plokhy’s analysis is a comprehensive narrative, touching upon the myriad factors that figured into the establishment of the Ukrainian state and a Ukrainian national identity. He also introduces readers to the seemingly endless barrage of threats to both of these constructs, from without as well as within. Plokhy’s strongest inquiry may well be in his epilogue, where he engages the forces of history at play regarding the most recent bout of political instability gripping Ukraine. He asserts that the Russian “annexation” of Crimea, as well as Russian support of so-called separatist movements crippling the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, are continuations of a centuries-old narrative, the roots of which are evident throughout his discussion of the tenuous historical relationship between the two countries. Though interested readers must look elsewhere for deeper examinations of Ukraine’s role in European and world history, Plokhy’s work serves as a welcome introduction to Ukraine’s ethnic and national history. Maps. Agent: Jill Kneerim, Kneerim, Williams, and Bloom. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/26/2015
Release date: 12/01/2015
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