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Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Cossack risings of the seventeenth century, Russia’s wars with Sweden in the eighteenth, the Civil War of 1918–1920, and under Nazi occupation. Ukraine finally won independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bigger than France and a populous as Britain, it has the potential to become one of the most powerful states in Europe.In this finely written and penetrating book, Anna Reid combines research and her own experiences to chart Ukraine’s tragic past. Talking to peasants and politicians, rabbis and racketeers, dissidents and paramilitaries, survivors of Stalin’s famine and of Nazi labor camps, she reveals the layers of myth and propaganda that wrap this divided land. From the Polish churches of Lviv to the coal mines of the Russian-speaking Donbass, from the Galician shtetlech to the Tatar shantytowns of Crimea, the book explores Ukraine’s struggle to build itself a national identity, and identity that faces up to a bloody past, and embraces all the peoples within its borders.


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Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Cossack risings of the seventeenth century, Russia’s wars with Sweden in the eighteenth, the Civil War of 1918–1920, and under Nazi occupation. Ukraine finally won independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bigger than France and a populous as Britain, it has the potential to become one of the most powerful states in Europe.In this finely written and penetrating book, Anna Reid combines research and her own experiences to chart Ukraine’s tragic past. Talking to peasants and politicians, rabbis and racketeers, dissidents and paramilitaries, survivors of Stalin’s famine and of Nazi labor camps, she reveals the layers of myth and propaganda that wrap this divided land. From the Polish churches of Lviv to the coal mines of the Russian-speaking Donbass, from the Galician shtetlech to the Tatar shantytowns of Crimea, the book explores Ukraine’s struggle to build itself a national identity, and identity that faces up to a bloody past, and embraces all the peoples within its borders.

30 review for Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine

  1. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    Misguided and barely informed account of what the author presumes to be a journey through history of Ukraine. There's just a tiny bit of history and a lot of banter 'oh, so, everyone hates Kiev when visiting but I've come to love it... blah-blah'. Lots of facts are misrepresented or omitted or discounted as unimportant: - Even the name of Ukraine, which was interpreted as 'Borderlands' is not as important as it's made to be. Actually, 'Malorossia' name of Ukraine is more ancient than Ukraine Misguided and barely informed account of what the author presumes to be a journey through history of Ukraine. There's just a tiny bit of history and a lot of banter 'oh, so, everyone hates Kiev when visiting but I've come to love it... blah-blah'. Lots of facts are misrepresented or omitted or discounted as unimportant: - Even the name of Ukraine, which was interpreted as 'Borderlands' is not as important as it's made to be. Actually, 'Malorossia' name of Ukraine is more ancient than Ukraine itself, since it stems from the Kievan Rus meaning 'Little Rus'. It's so because the 'Oukraine' term was used since 1187 to all kinds of borderlands, of which there were many, including 'Pskov Oukraine' and 'Oka Oukraine'. None of which have anything to do with Ukraine itself. And only during the times of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the term Ukraine started to be used referring to Ukraine. - All the glorious history of the Kievan Rus, it's beginnings and developments have been largely left dismissed. It's basically said: 'yes it was glorious let's move on'. In fact, it's said in here 'Despite its short lifespan, Kievan Rus - ancient, vast, civilised, impeccably European - makes history ... to be proud of', which is stupid on many more accounts than should be possible. For one thing, the Kievan Rus existed during time comparable to the modern day US: from at least 862 to 1237 (IF one takes only timespan before the start of the Tatar-Mongol Yoke). And it proudly wasn't European. When Europe was on its way to the Dark Ages, when it became a point of pride for a royalty to wash oneself 2 times during her life (think Isabella de Castille, 22 April 1451 – 26 November 1504), in Kievan Rus people were known to be using bathhouses regularly. - Linguistically, this book's shit. For example, it states that a dated (like, by a century) honorific of 'Gospodin' is native to Ukrainian language in Central and Eastern parts and opposed to Polish 'Pan'. Guys, there is NO word 'Gospodin' in Ukrainian, there's only 'Pan' and 'Pani'. 'Gospodin' or 'Gospozha' haven't been in use even in Russian since long. Only 'Gospoda' is used in Russia, referring to a large gathering of people. In Ukrainian, it's gonna be 'Panove'. And, even so, the word 'Pan' was not borrowed by the Ukrainians from Polish but rather by the Ukrainian, Polish, Belarussian, Chech and Slovak from the Ancient Slavic language. There is also no reference to the 'Surzhik', at all, even though it's impossible to miss. - Basically, this book discounts all the history of Ukraine and goes on to promote that corrupted shithole that it has become in the last 3 decades. And somehow it even manages to GLORIFY all that lawlessness and corruption that permeates the modern day Ukraine. I do realise that this is a book with a vividly highlighted political premise, which had a task to demonstrate that all the participants in this free-for-all did all right for Ukraine, except Russia. It somehow manages to fail miserably at this task. - And so on and on and on and on... I remain firm in my belief that people need to learn history first and only then go on to write books about it. I could rant about most pages of this book endlessly since it fails to show how the Slavic history progressed for Ukraine to happen. I added an extra star just because I can share the author's nostalgy about Ukraine. The rest, it's just NOT the book it claims to be.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    This is one of those books that if you write a review to it, you are likely to get counter-reviews from someone out there that belive you should have the same opinion on this book as they have. As all the postings and appraisal of Anna Reid's book reflects this is a very good popular introduction to Ukrainian history. That is with stress on both *good*, *popular introduction* and *up to 1997*. If you have already read several histories of Ukraine, chances are slim you will find much new here. If This is one of those books that if you write a review to it, you are likely to get counter-reviews from someone out there that belive you should have the same opinion on this book as they have. As all the postings and appraisal of Anna Reid's book reflects this is a very good popular introduction to Ukrainian history. That is with stress on both *good*, *popular introduction* and *up to 1997*. If you have already read several histories of Ukraine, chances are slim you will find much new here. If you need an update on the orange revolution, you will simply not find what you look for here. If you find another book to cover the orange revolution, it might even be an advantage that it is published in 1997, in the sense that it is likely to focus more on the Kuchma era and describe what Ukraine was like in the 1990s than a book published more recently will. It is not unlikely that you anyway will enjoy here anechdotical introductions to each chapter though, using personal experiences as illustrations to the different regions and historical periods of the country. To illustrate the strenght and the (less important) weakness of this style of writing, I could tell you about my reading of her book as preperation for a 3 weeks journey though Ukraine. Like a similar incident after reading Kapuscinski's story about Pinsk in Belarus, Reid has made me get off the train at 5 o'clock in the morning after a though night in the restaurant wagon caused by reading her chapter from this region - Chernivtsi is simply somewhere that you have to see before you die. The truth is a bit more complex. I guess what I try to say that her writing is better litterature than travel advice (read, to see what I mean). I would like to add a few lines of why I think this book is as good as it is. As I see it, A good history of Ukraine aknowledges the following 3 things that Ukraine is, 3 things that Ukraine is not and 3 things as not important. 3 things you necessarily needs to find in a history of Ukraine is that -It's history is above everything else multicultural and about a peasant culture -The by far most significant building-blocks of Ukrainian national identity is to be found in the 1800s and 1900s. -It is primary Ukraine itself that created the economic and political disaster of the 1990s (unlike in the 1920s, when Ukraine recovered after, say, 7 years of economic crisis the neo-Brezhnevism corruption is what probably makes the big difference) Second to a cover picture of an Ukrainian peasant with a Russian bureucrate and a Jewish merchant on each side, the picture chosen for the front page is the perfect choice! Read the book and understand why. I am very surprised why someone have objections to the photo. What ever is the basis of their objection it is not Ukrainian history. As of other peoples included in multicultural Empires in Eastern Europe up to World war I, national identity came late to Ukraine. Anna Reid gives a good and balanced understanding of this. More important than any other explaination to the political and economic disaster of the 1990s was the policy of Ukraine itself. Anna Reid manages to give a good introduction to this not-so-proud recent past. 3 things you necesary *not* will find in a good history of Ukraine is: -that Ukraine is an acient Eastern Slavonic Nation -a history of Ukraine that is not closely related to Russian history -a place in Ukraine that represents "real Ukraine" Middle-age settlements in the Eastern Slavonic region was highly autonomious, there was several of them both in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and Kiev was an important but not the oldest of them. The southern and Eastern Ukraine is both a crucial part of Russian and Ukraine and Ukrainian-Russian history. The Ukrainian impact on Soviet history and the great importance of the Soviet Union for Ukrainian national identity. Reid gives a good and balanced understanding of this. I take the objection of some reader that she puts to little emphasis of the collectivisation and starvation as a sign that she succeeds to present Ukraine as much more than victims of starvation. Also important, Ukraine was the politically most priviledged republic after the Russians in the Soviet Union. 3 things a history of Ukraine will reflect that is not important is -whether you prefer to write Kyiv or Kiev -what Ukraine really means -what place is the orign of Eastern Slavonic civilisation Anna Reid does not make a big deal out of any of this. Combined with good writing and the successful use of anecdotes from her personal experiences and research you have the reason why it is so interesting to read her book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hertling

    While in Ukraine a few months ago, I asked the editor of the Kiev Post to name the best book on her country. "Borderland," she replied. "It was published in the last 90's, but it will tell you who we are." Anna Reid writes ten chapter on eight different cities. She describes centuries of cultural influence, war, subjugation and trauma. And then - in each city - she describes the breath of the Ukrainian people and the depth of their soul. Interestingly, while published in 1997 and updated in 1999 While in Ukraine a few months ago, I asked the editor of the Kiev Post to name the best book on her country. "Borderland," she replied. "It was published in the last 90's, but it will tell you who we are." Anna Reid writes ten chapter on eight different cities. She describes centuries of cultural influence, war, subjugation and trauma. And then - in each city - she describes the breath of the Ukrainian people and the depth of their soul. Interestingly, while published in 1997 and updated in 1999 and 2000, she presciently predicts actions by Russia, Europe and the west when Ukraine faced their most recent challenge. What "Invisible Nation" is to those who want to understand the Kurds, so is this book a must read for those who want to understand Ukraine's search for their statehood and their nationhood.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Reid writes with the intimate style of someone who has lived in the places she tells about. It also does not hurt that she was Kiev correspondent for The Economist. Her employment seems to have provider her with a great degree of access to all levels of Ukrainian society. Her brisk and insightful style is also informed years banging out copy for that most erudite of British magazines. Having just returned from Ukraine and possessing a woeful ignorance about the country's history, this book was Reid writes with the intimate style of someone who has lived in the places she tells about. It also does not hurt that she was Kiev correspondent for The Economist. Her employment seems to have provider her with a great degree of access to all levels of Ukrainian society. Her brisk and insightful style is also informed years banging out copy for that most erudite of British magazines. Having just returned from Ukraine and possessing a woeful ignorance about the country's history, this book was an excellent introduction. Popular history as it should be: informative without being tedious and engaging without being trivial. Great book for fans of history soaked travel writing as well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Calzean

    It's rare to find a book about a country that is so well set out, full of antidotes, opinions and characters. Originally written in 1995, this 2015 edition has 70 new pages. It's not a long tedious read. The early chapters take a part of the Ukraine, give it's history and relate it to a current issue. The relationships with it's neighbours, the question of what is a Ukrainian, and where the country is heading to are all thoughtfully and interestingly covered. I had little knowledge of Ukraine It's rare to find a book about a country that is so well set out, full of antidotes, opinions and characters. Originally written in 1995, this 2015 edition has 70 new pages. It's not a long tedious read. The early chapters take a part of the Ukraine, give it's history and relate it to a current issue. The relationships with it's neighbours, the question of what is a Ukrainian, and where the country is heading to are all thoughtfully and interestingly covered. I had little knowledge of Ukraine (other than it's time as part of the USSR) so can't compare this book with others. But it was full of interest and revealed what a complex world we live in.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Louis-Jean Levasseur

    Anna Reid is to Ukraine what Rebecca West is to the Balkans, a unique historian with both knowledge and insight. Although the form is not that of a travelogue, each chapter covers an idea, a period or an event by refering to a city, or a place in particular. It is recounted by someone who knows Ukraine from within, having resided there as a correspondent, who travelled east and west, and very well documented. For the most part, the book has been written in 1997, but this revised and updated Anna Reid is to Ukraine what Rebecca West is to the Balkans, a unique historian with both knowledge and insight. Although the form is not that of a travelogue, each chapter covers an idea, a period or an event by refering to a city, or a place in particular. It is recounted by someone who knows Ukraine from within, having resided there as a correspondent, who travelled east and west, and very well documented. For the most part, the book has been written in 1997, but this revised and updated edition (2015) includes an entire second part focused on the orange and euromaidan revolution.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    So you think you know about Ukraine? This is an interesting introduction to the brutal history of Ukraine and how the borders have changed over centuries. How Ukraine was born out of part of Poland and Imperial Russia. This is a well written and evocative book about Ukraine and I would recommend this as a starting point if you are interested in Eastern European history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Garvan

    Quite a brilliant book . First I learned that Ukraine only ever been independent once and that it was from after the collapse of the soviet union . The horrors of the terrible famine 1931 -1932 are well told. Along the way we learn about the Cossacks, the tartars and other groups who lived these lands. It has many bloody battles and massacres throughout its history such as that took place during the Civil war of 1918-1920 and the eastern front in World War II . The chapter on the Chernobyl Quite a brilliant book . First I learned that Ukraine only ever been independent once and that it was from after the collapse of the soviet union . The horrors of the terrible famine 1931 -1932 are well told. Along the way we learn about the Cossacks, the tartars and other groups who lived these lands. It has many bloody battles and massacres throughout its history such as that took place during the Civil war of 1918-1920 and the eastern front in World War II . The chapter on the Chernobyl incident is shocking . But throughout there is a also a lot of wit . The author Anna Reid is magnificent. All and all this is a great read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    Once I knew that I was going to Ukraine, I started looking for books about Europe's largest country but much to my chagrin, there is not much to choose from and definitely not very many books that aren't sort of more academic books. Borderland is a wonderful book and definitely seeks to fill the void. I learned so much from this book and was even able to pass on some of what I learned to my friend who has lived in Ukraine for the past two years. This is Ukraine in easily digestible pieces.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Amazing book that covers the full gamut of Ukrainian history from Kievan Rus, through Cossack 16th - 18th centuries, on to WWII, into modern times and Chernobyl, right through the year 2000. The author's personal affection for the people of Ukraine is obvious from the outset, but she does not let this cloud her holistic picture of the Ukrainian nation and people, in which she relates the beautiful and the horrific in equal measure. Tough pragmatic survivors of Soviet collectivism-induced Amazing book that covers the full gamut of Ukrainian history from Kievan Rus, through Cossack 16th - 18th centuries, on to WWII, into modern times and Chernobyl, right through the year 2000. The author's personal affection for the people of Ukraine is obvious from the outset, but she does not let this cloud her holistic picture of the Ukrainian nation and people, in which she relates the beautiful and the horrific in equal measure. Tough pragmatic survivors of Soviet collectivism-induced famines, and heartless collaborators in Nazi WWII genocide. A people who are willing to find national identity in the Ukrainian poetic mastery of Taras Shevchenko on one hand, and yet whose leaders allow thousands and thousands of their own die as they try to cover up the disaster of the Chernobyl meltdown. Her exploration of the difficult issue of Ukrainians' identity as separate or linked to Russia, Poland, and/or Germany at various times in their history unifies the narrative under the compelling larger concept of people who have always been "on the borders," are not exactly sure of who precisely they are -- or to whom they owe their loyalty -- and are just now discovering themselves as an independent and unique people. I only wish this book could have been written 6-8 years later after we'd seen the Orange Revolution, the poisoning and recovery of Viktor Yushchenko, and the rise and fall of the dynamic and beautiful Yulia Tymoshenko.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Art King

    This book is written by an outsider. Many of the negative reviews here are from aggrieved people looking for their version of Ukraine history. The author is not trying to promote one aggrieved party version of history. As an outsider like Anna Reid, I liked her approach. Its a small book covering a big topic, but the author does manage to paint a detailed picture of the sad 20th century in Ukrainian history. I read this book during my recent six weeks in the Ukraine. Ukrainians are digging out This book is written by an outsider. Many of the negative reviews here are from aggrieved people looking for their version of Ukraine history. The author is not trying to promote one aggrieved party version of history. As an outsider like Anna Reid, I liked her approach. Its a small book covering a big topic, but the author does manage to paint a detailed picture of the sad 20th century in Ukrainian history. I read this book during my recent six weeks in the Ukraine. Ukrainians are digging out from the ashes of the last 100 years. The future looks bright. I found myself thinking if the Ukraine can stay free and avoid a repeat of the disastrous wars of the last century, they could be a first-world nation in a generation or less.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Even though this book is about a decade and a half old, I learned quite a bit about Ukraine. There were a few parts where subsequent events have outpaced the book, most notably as it concerns the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but I think the book as a whole is still useful. It was at least slightly amusing to go through the aforementioned parts about Crimea and the Donbass, to find things about how Crimea might join Russia if Russia has the opportunity. You don’t fracking say.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    Very interesting book. I really liked how each chapter was broken up into mini histories of each major city in Ukraine. The book is at least 10 years old so the information up until that point was great to read. I would love to read and continuation from the orange revolution to the present day euro maidan protests for continued independence. I highly recommend this book to any Eastern European history buff. There is a lot of meat in this book. Enjoy!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    There isn't really a better way to read a book about a country than to travel in the country while you're reading the book. I was fortunate in this, but even if you're not going to Ukraine any time soon, this is still an interesting book to read. Some parts were quite sad, and it allowed me see the cause behind some of the problems that still exist in the country today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    King

    The pages of this book are far livelier than the two old guys on the cover. Author Anna Reid seamlessly blends history and travelogue, filling her pages with fun trivia ("...Admiral Paul Nakhimov...had been viewing the enemy batteries through a telescope, and his last words, before the instrument fell from his hands, were 'They're shooting better today' ") and anecdotes that suggest that Ms. Reid herself is a pretty fun gal ("Indubitable proof of the slim talents required to win fame in Kiev The pages of this book are far livelier than the two old guys on the cover. Author Anna Reid seamlessly blends history and travelogue, filling her pages with fun trivia ("...Admiral Paul Nakhimov...had been viewing the enemy batteries through a telescope, and his last words, before the instrument fell from his hands, were 'They're shooting better today' ") and anecdotes that suggest that Ms. Reid herself is a pretty fun gal ("Indubitable proof of the slim talents required to win fame in Kiev came soon after my arrival, when my 'fixer' Sasha - combined impresario, computer-games importer and estate agent - persuaded me to record a song he had composed with English lyrics...A few weeks later we were filmed for television...The result - vodka-flushed face, hopeless lip-synch, novelty camera-work - went out nationwide on New Year's Eve"). Superb, crisp writing on display here, not a surprise when you consider Ms. Reid was The Economist's Ukrainian correspondent during the years she compiled these experiences and observations.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    Fine and readable, but really very basic. Not at all an academic book. The anecdotes from the collapse of the 90s are funny/painful, when I realize my grandparents must have gone through all that. The optimism going forward is...also funny painful, given that a cynical, worst-case guess at Ukraine's future - an impoverished chaos torn between Russia and Europe - only barely scratches at how bad the situation really is, as the one thing Reid seems confident about is that country certainly Fine and readable, but really very basic. Not at all an academic book. The anecdotes from the collapse of the 90s are funny/painful, when I realize my grandparents must have gone through all that. The optimism going forward is...also funny painful, given that a cynical, worst-case guess at Ukraine's future - an impoverished chaos torn between Russia and Europe - only barely scratches at how bad the situation really is, as the one thing Reid seems confident about is that country certainly wouldn't break up. Yeah. The thing is, every time i'm in the Ukraine, i'm struck by how rich it is in many ways. So much space, so much water, so much green. Educated population, extant (if crumbling) modern infrastructure, medical system, education system. This isn't some patch of desert or somewhere that has never gotten out of subsistence agriculture - it just tumbled back there. I always get vaguely angry there, almost. Like, what's your excuse, huh, you ridiculously vast expanse of stuff? I guess I need a more in depth book for that.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A terrific, highly accessible history of Ukraine which has been updated to include recent events right up until early 2015 and cleverly uses a visit to various cities and towns within the country to launch into narratives of the past. There is just so much that is important and sections on the Ukraine's Jews, Communism and its general buffeting between rival powers are all very well told. Reid also explores the origins of what it means to be Ukrainian and it left this reader none the more A terrific, highly accessible history of Ukraine which has been updated to include recent events right up until early 2015 and cleverly uses a visit to various cities and towns within the country to launch into narratives of the past. There is just so much that is important and sections on the Ukraine's Jews, Communism and its general buffeting between rival powers are all very well told. Reid also explores the origins of what it means to be Ukrainian and it left this reader none the more decided on the arguments that are currently causing such bother - that myth and legend are used to certify what is remains a pity and one is left to yet again contemplate the trouble the concept of the nation state has caused. I found myself disagreeing slightly with Reid in the final chapters as her welcome for untrammeled capitalism is as enthusiastic as you would expect of a columnist for The Spectator but it's a sign of a good book that I would still provide it with an unhesitating endorsement.

  18. 5 out of 5

    WM Rine

    Reid uses experiences from her years as a correspondent in the newly established Ukraine to write a history of this country that has never (until 1991) really been a country and a place that hasn't even been a single place. Ukraine is more an archipelago of places, each with a distinct arc of history, and Reid cleverly uses specific locations to tell a story that slowly builds towards the country's eventual establishment with the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. it's not a pretty Reid uses experiences from her years as a correspondent in the newly established Ukraine to write a history of this country that has never (until 1991) really been a country and a place that hasn't even been a single place. Ukraine is more an archipelago of places, each with a distinct arc of history, and Reid cleverly uses specific locations to tell a story that slowly builds towards the country's eventual establishment with the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. it's not a pretty history -- rife with petty politics and lots of tribal massacres, something as true in the 1500s as it was in the 20th century, with mass slaughters of Ukranians by the Russian communists, not to mention the Nazis' slaughter of Ukrainian Jews. I thought I knew a bit about the country from the Ukranians I've known over the years, but this book revealed how little I knew. A fascinating read about a fascinating place.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    While there are certainly some interesting facts on Ukrainian history in this book, the author's research is lacking. The first chapter skims over hundreds of years of Ukrainian history while offering no real insight into any era of it. Her observations of "present-day Ukraine," while interesting, are no longer representative of modern-day Ukraine, and the book is not even 5 years old. The book reads more like a journal article than a history book, which makes for quick reading, but that may While there are certainly some interesting facts on Ukrainian history in this book, the author's research is lacking. The first chapter skims over hundreds of years of Ukrainian history while offering no real insight into any era of it. Her observations of "present-day Ukraine," while interesting, are no longer representative of modern-day Ukraine, and the book is not even 5 years old. The book reads more like a journal article than a history book, which makes for quick reading, but that may also be attributable to lack of depth. This book is decent if you know nothing about Ukraine or Ukrainian history and want an intro. If you know anything about Ukraine today or Ukrainian history, skip it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Daly

    Very brief history of a thousand years of Ukrainian history, combined with reports from the author's two years living and traveling in the country in the early 1990s. The book was published in 2000, and thus fails to cover the Orange Revolution, Euromaidan and later events. It does a good job dealing with famines, wars, Stalin's repressions, the Holocaust and other tragedies of the 20th century in Ukraine -- perhaps not a book for the squeamish. Still, a very useful book to bring the reader up Very brief history of a thousand years of Ukrainian history, combined with reports from the author's two years living and traveling in the country in the early 1990s. The book was published in 2000, and thus fails to cover the Orange Revolution, Euromaidan and later events. It does a good job dealing with famines, wars, Stalin's repressions, the Holocaust and other tragedies of the 20th century in Ukraine -- perhaps not a book for the squeamish. Still, a very useful book to bring the reader up to speed to begin to understand the coming events in the region. http://stconsultant.blogspot.com/2014...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Mulkey

    I enjoyed this book. Of course, for me it was especially fascinating because I've just spent four weeks doing genealogical research in Ukraine and will be returning again in a couple of months. I also found distant relatives with whom I'm establishing a relationship. Ms Reid's exhaustive research was enlightening and interesting to me and will help as I do more research. I did find some of the references tedious and I was chagrined at some of the flagrant typos--the editing was not good. All in I enjoyed this book. Of course, for me it was especially fascinating because I've just spent four weeks doing genealogical research in Ukraine and will be returning again in a couple of months. I also found distant relatives with whom I'm establishing a relationship. Ms Reid's exhaustive research was enlightening and interesting to me and will help as I do more research. I did find some of the references tedious and I was chagrined at some of the flagrant typos--the editing was not good. All in all, though, I enjoyed this book and am now looking for similar books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Loaned to me by our Kiev Temple president's wife. A sorrowful, even sickening history of Ukraine, wading through the atrocities inflicted upon Ukraine during the Soviet-forced starvation "famine" of the early 1930's and the Hitler invasion of WWII. Sad, sad, sad. I look at the older Ukrainian people I see each day here in Kiev and wonder what their personal history is. How did they, or their parents or their parents' parents survive being here. One thing seems obvious. Life is much better in Loaned to me by our Kiev Temple president's wife. A sorrowful, even sickening history of Ukraine, wading through the atrocities inflicted upon Ukraine during the Soviet-forced starvation "famine" of the early 1930's and the Hitler invasion of WWII. Sad, sad, sad. I look at the older Ukrainian people I see each day here in Kiev and wonder what their personal history is. How did they, or their parents or their parents' parents survive being here. One thing seems obvious. Life is much better in Ukraine today; probably better than it's ever been.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Denise Rawling

    A satisfying blend of historical overview and contemporary (then) interviews and insights. In view of the recent events playing out in the Ukraine, I found this a stimulating and engaging read. This outsider found it a well written and seemingly evenhanded introduction to a very complex and often tragic history, which helps open up an interest in trying to understand what is happening in this troubled region.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    As I’m part Ukrainian, I suppose I’m a bit more interested in Ukrainian history than the average person. And while this book may not be for everyone, even I was surprised that I couldn’t put it down. So if you’re one of those rare people that is looking to learn the heartbreaking, and depressing, history of an Eastern European country that you probably haven’t given much thought, this is the book for you. (read more at my blog on my favorite reads of 2010 www.prettygirlsmakegravy.com)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    interesting book which was first written in the 1990's looking at the history of ukraine through its different stages of development from the kivean rus which developed the area to being part of the polish empire and latterly part of the russian and soviet empire until its final break away in 1991 and being the ukrainian republic, the book has been updated to include the recent troubles in crimean and russian dominated eastern ukraine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    The book got me over the hump from ignorant on all things historical in Ukraine to a better place…looking forward to hitting some real historical accounts of the region. This book is a bit dated, but a good start nonetheless. I really would like to learn more about Lwow/Lemberg/Lvov/Lviv.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maddy ✨

    3.75 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hugo

    Although first published in 1997, this "yet-another-book-on-Ukraine-by-an-expat" is still worth reading, precisely because of the year it was published in. With no influence from the Orange Revolution or the recent Maidan events, the book combines personal anecdotes and historical research to look at Ukraine's past and, more specifically, the 1990s Kushma years. The book gives you a real sense of what Ukraine was like in the 1990s than other books published more recently will. For those trying Although first published in 1997, this "yet-another-book-on-Ukraine-by-an-expat" is still worth reading, precisely because of the year it was published in. With no influence from the Orange Revolution or the recent Maidan events, the book combines personal anecdotes and historical research to look at Ukraine's past and, more specifically, the 1990s Kushma years. The book gives you a real sense of what Ukraine was like in the 1990s than other books published more recently will. For those trying to understand why the 2000s were so shaken by protests, this book contains some of the answers. She also tries to predict the future - with some predictions being incredibly prescient. I personally enjoyed her anecdotal stories to Kyiv, Odessa and Lviv. Almost feels like you are walking around with her and exploring how these cities were in the 1990s. The author convinced me that she is in love with this country, you can feel it through her pen. I recommend! Oh, and loved this quote: “Being ‘Ukrainian’, for the hordes of patriotic young people manning a starburst of new charities and campaign groups in the capital, is not about what your surname is or what language you speak. It is about making a moral choice, about wanting a decent country and being a decent person. They are proud that the Ukrainian journalist who initiated the Maidan is Afghan by background, and that the first two demonstrators shot dead by police were ethnically Belarussian and Georgian.”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jemma

    In part really good and informative about Ukraine in new ways. There are however lots of weak passages where there is either little content, or the Ukrainian point of view is presented as correct and the Russians, Poles, etc. as always wrong (which is somewhat partisan) and then there are the parts which read like lists copied from another book (e.g. all the various murders of the Soviet and Nazi years). Essentially this is a few great articles padded out to book length with too much low level In part really good and informative about Ukraine in new ways. There are however lots of weak passages where there is either little content, or the Ukrainian point of view is presented as correct and the Russians, Poles, etc. as always wrong (which is somewhat partisan) and then there are the parts which read like lists copied from another book (e.g. all the various murders of the Soviet and Nazi years). Essentially this is a few great articles padded out to book length with too much low level filler and no real critique of Ukrainian views. This is not an allusion to current events, where Putin is clearly a great danger but much of the earlier stuff is not convincing. For instance, the Polish casse for Lvov sounds more convincing than the Ukranian.

  30. 4 out of 5

    AnnaG

    With the current political turmoil surrounding Ukraine, it was helpful and interesting to read an objective account of the history that lead the country to its current political settlement. This book was originally published in the 1990s and now has a coda to cover events up to about 2015, so it is potentially one of the few books written about this subject with no axe to grind against or in favour of Donald Trump.

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