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Ukraine: A History

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In 1988 Orest Subtelny's "Ukraine" was published to international acclaim, as the definitive history of what was at the time a state within the USSR. In the years since we have seen the dismantling of the Soviet bloc and the restoration of Ukraine's independence - a time of celebration for Ukrainians throughout the world, and of tumultuous change for those in the homeland. In 1988 Orest Subtelny's "Ukraine" was published to international acclaim, as the definitive history of what was at the time a state within the USSR. In the years since we have seen the dismantling of the Soviet bloc and the restoration of Ukraine's independence - a time of celebration for Ukrainians throughout the world, and of tumultuous change for those in the homeland. With this new edition of "Ukraine: A History," Subtelny revises the story up to the spring of 2000. A new chapter focuses on the achievements and failures of the new state and society in international affairs, internal politics, and economic and social development.


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In 1988 Orest Subtelny's "Ukraine" was published to international acclaim, as the definitive history of what was at the time a state within the USSR. In the years since we have seen the dismantling of the Soviet bloc and the restoration of Ukraine's independence - a time of celebration for Ukrainians throughout the world, and of tumultuous change for those in the homeland. In 1988 Orest Subtelny's "Ukraine" was published to international acclaim, as the definitive history of what was at the time a state within the USSR. In the years since we have seen the dismantling of the Soviet bloc and the restoration of Ukraine's independence - a time of celebration for Ukrainians throughout the world, and of tumultuous change for those in the homeland. With this new edition of "Ukraine: A History," Subtelny revises the story up to the spring of 2000. A new chapter focuses on the achievements and failures of the new state and society in international affairs, internal politics, and economic and social development.

30 review for Ukraine: A History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I like to keep up with what's happening in the world. I read 2 newspapers a day and,if I don't have enough background on a happening to feel comfortable "knowing" what to think, I do background reading. I don't mind ambiguity and actually prefer knowing the complexities of a situation than reading something that tries to put matters in black and white. Thus this book. Although it is actually a textbook, it doesn't read like one. And although it is a little over 600 pages long, it reads relatively I like to keep up with what's happening in the world. I read 2 newspapers a day and,if I don't have enough background on a happening to feel comfortable "knowing" what to think, I do background reading. I don't mind ambiguity and actually prefer knowing the complexities of a situation than reading something that tries to put matters in black and white. Thus this book. Although it is actually a textbook, it doesn't read like one. And although it is a little over 600 pages long, it reads relatively quickly. It was, to me, actually hard to put down. The author, moreover, is not biased and gives credit where credit is due, even if it is to the USSR. The current crisis in Ukraine is totally understandable when you read this. Since its "beginning" Ukraine has been seen as a continuous whole although not as a nation. This is because it has been separated by domination by Russia in the east and Poland in the west for most of its history. Back in the 17th century, eastern Ukraine was fighting to keep from being taken over by the Polish Empire. Its western section had been overrun, but Kiev and the lands on either side of the Dnieper were struggling to stay independent. However, it was soon evident that they needed foreign help. Here's the problem. They had 3 choices: the Tarters in Crimea, the Russians or the Turks. Hard choice. But the Tartars had been the "original" invaders so they weren't favored. The Turks practiced an alien religion and Ukrainians weren't comfortable with the association. But Russia practiced the same religion and was also Slavic so it seemed reasonable to ask them for help. Well......... Once Russia helped eastern Ukraine repel the Poles, it began "invading" itself. It wanted to Russify the area. Starting as a very small island in the vastness of Europe/Asia, Russia had a view, already in the 17th century, of being a great world power. So it encouraged its people to move into Ukraine territory and began the policy of putting Russians in high posts, destroying the use of the Ukrainian language, making Ukraine a supplier of grains and raw materials for Russia while industry was promoted on Russian soil. She called Ukraine "Little Russia" almost in affection, but looking behind the name, she actually meant Ukraine was Russian, not Ukrainian. The split between the two parts of the country was a true problem in the consolidation of Ukraine as a specific country or nation of its own. Poland encouraged settlement in the west as Russia encouraged settlement in the east. When things got bad and peasants wanted more land or more independence, the easterners went further into Russia and the westerners migrated to Europe and America. Easterners were forced to accept Russian culture and ideas, while westerners, although under Polish rule, were imbued with European ideas. However, during all its history there was a recognized boundary of "Ukraine" where people were recognized as ethnic Ukrainians. The boundary was roughly the current borders of the country. I won't go into the details on how Ukraine achieved unity and independence, but its current situation is entirely consistent with its history. People in the western part of Ukraine see themselves as an entity with western ideas of democracy and industry, etc. However, the eastern part, the part Russia is trying to take over, has always struggled with its Russian past. Although Russia is currently claiming that the Separatists are actually Russian and traditionally a part of Russia, they are not. They have always been part of Ukrainian territory. However, Russia has tried over the centuries to make it part of Russia by encouraging Russians to move into that area, in much the same way that China is trying to make Tibet part of it by encouraging settlement, like Russia tried to insist that the Baltic States were part of Russia because it had encouraged settlement, and, much as I may raise hackles here, like Israel is refusing to prohibit settlement in the West Bank. If our people are a "majority" or a threatened minority, we have the right to "protect" them and own that land. Not so with Crimea and I won't go into that. It's a whole separate matter. The situation in Ukraine is complicated. There are arguments on both sides but it must be pointed out that, twice, Russia has signed agreements with Ukraine to respect its borders. The history of the country and of the current crisis is fascinating. Although the book only contains history up to 2000, you can see the crisis already in the works. Take the time to look into the matter and understand a little known nation of the world by reading this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    What an epic book! Starting from pre-history and progressing through about 2008, this sweeping history of Ukraine and Ukrainians is mind-boggling. While lengthy (about 700 pages), few words are wasted because the history of Ukraine is so complex and fascinating. Interwoven with the history of eastern Europe (Poland, Austria, Hungary, etc.) and Russia, Ukraine has endured upheaval, war, famine, and revolution in myriad ways most of the rest of the planet can only read about. Subtelny's writing is What an epic book! Starting from pre-history and progressing through about 2008, this sweeping history of Ukraine and Ukrainians is mind-boggling. While lengthy (about 700 pages), few words are wasted because the history of Ukraine is so complex and fascinating. Interwoven with the history of eastern Europe (Poland, Austria, Hungary, etc.) and Russia, Ukraine has endured upheaval, war, famine, and revolution in myriad ways most of the rest of the planet can only read about. Subtelny's writing is mostly smooth, descriptive, and compelling, infrequently a bit repetitive. In a few of the later chapters, the verb tenses get a bit confused, probably due to the placement of the ending point of the earlier editions. Otherwise, it is simply brilliant if exhausting. Prepare to expand your understanding of not just Ukraine, but also eastern Europe and Russia. Well worth reading, even 700 pages worth, this is one of those books that needs mulling over and deep thought to soak up so much dramatic history and dynamic human history. Pace yourself.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A very thorough yet enjoyable history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. It was originally written in the Soviet era, and this edition was updated to include the first few years of Ukrainian independence. There are many helpful maps and illustrations. My only complaint is that the book is rather ethnocentric. While one learns a lot about the ethnic Ukrainians, including those who emigrated and formed the Ukrainian diaspora, the history of other peoples who lived within the borders of Ukraine A very thorough yet enjoyable history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. It was originally written in the Soviet era, and this edition was updated to include the first few years of Ukrainian independence. There are many helpful maps and illustrations. My only complaint is that the book is rather ethnocentric. While one learns a lot about the ethnic Ukrainians, including those who emigrated and formed the Ukrainian diaspora, the history of other peoples who lived within the borders of Ukraine are ignored. My entire family comes from Western and Right Bank Ukraine, but their experiences and history aren't part of the narrative of this book because they were Jews. Pretty disappointing. The book is definitely written from the point of view of those ethnic Ukrainians. Still, I learned a lot about this old/new country and it's people.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Lillegard

    Excellent in-depth history of Ukraine. Very long!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Great book, covers the history in engaging and well-structured way. Has a Ukraine-centric view, which is another great side of it. A problem that I want to point out is that the pre-1991 part of the book hasn't been rewritten, even with the new editions coming out. So the book still has references to the "present" Soviet rule and what "Soviet historians tend to believe". The new chapters then refer to the new years. I wish the author updated the book throughout to the current frame of reference. Great book, covers the history in engaging and well-structured way. Has a Ukraine-centric view, which is another great side of it. A problem that I want to point out is that the pre-1991 part of the book hasn't been rewritten, even with the new editions coming out. So the book still has references to the "present" Soviet rule and what "Soviet historians tend to believe". The new chapters then refer to the new years. I wish the author updated the book throughout to the current frame of reference. This also makes me think that some of the more recent books about Ukraine during the Soviet era (e.g. Bloodlands) have more of the recently revealed facts, unavailable at the time of original writing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Artem

    Epic book about Ukrainian history. The author put enormous amount of effort to describe interesting and challenging history of Ukrainians, describing it from political, economic and cultural points of view. Must read for anyone who wants to learn about the history of Ukraine and understand the differences between Eastern European nations.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James

    Definitely a broad, comprehensive history of Ukraine, but I found it quite readable, too. Side note: It's hilarious how differently Polish and Ukrainian historians interpret and describe the same events.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Comprehensive overview of Ukrainian history. Good background for understanding today's controversies between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Wish there was an updated version to cover the 2000-2014 years.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    The definitive history of Ukraine dating back to Kievan Rus. This book was captivating and fascinating. Well worth the price and time for any lovers of Slavic history.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oleksiy Kononov

    The best narrative of Ukraine's history I've ever read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Ridiculously informative and a pleasure to read (notwithstanding the often depressing subject matter). I look forward to reading it again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Artur Lipian

  13. 4 out of 5

    Volodymyr Krynytsky

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chrystyna Dail

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anton Dubinskyi

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark Romanick

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kurth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Oleksii Markhovskyi

  22. 4 out of 5

    Volodymyr Okarynskyi

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tetiana Syniook

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Sanusi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nate

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karina Kravchenko

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yar Haluk

  30. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Knight

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