A New York Times bestseller, this definitive history of Ukraine is “an exemplary account of Europe’s least-known large country” (Wall Street Journal).
As Ukraine is embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence, celebrated historian Serhii Plokhy explains that today’s crisis is a case of history repeating itself: the Ukrainian conflict is only the latest in a long history of turmoil over Ukraine’s sovereignty. Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine has been shaped by empires that exploited the nation as a strategic gateway between East and West—from the Romans and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. In The Gates of Europe, Plokhy examines Ukraine’s search for its identity through the lives of major Ukrainian historical figures, from its heroes to its conquerors.
This revised edition includes new material that brings this definitive history up to the present. As Ukraine once again finds itself at the center of global attention, Plokhy brings its history to vivid life as he connects the nation’s past with its present and future.
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.