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The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation Hardcover – October 11, 2000

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300083552 ISBN-10: 0300083556

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since the 1990s, journalists, academics, politicians and the public have groped for some sense of the history, culture and politics of emerging, post-communist independent statesACroatia, Macedonia, Slovakia, Belarus, Slovenia and the like. In 1991 Ukraine joined the ranks of these new states and emerged as a pivotal player in the new alignment of Eurasian politics. Wilson, a lecturer in Ukrainian studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College in London, provides a comprehensive overview (more scholarly than popular) of Ukraine's history, focusing on questions of national identity and describing Ukraine as a recent invention as a nation. For Ukraine, he suggests, national identity revolves around the complex and fluctuating relation between Ukraine and Russia, from the contested views of medieval Kievan Rus and its national origins (Ukrainian or Russian or both?), to the troubles faced by a modern Ukraine with a significant Russian and Russian-speaking population. Wilson presents Ukraine as a cultural construct, a creation of both Ukrainian and Russian imagination and politics; as a result, the book will displease those who dismiss poststructuralist views of national identity. Still, thorough, rigorous and informative, Wilson's survey promises to sharpen Westerners' perceptions of the surviving East-West divide along the European and Russian border. Because it is "a vital 'swing' state" in Eastern Europe, Ukraine's past and future, Wilson convincingly argues, should very much concern us. Illus. not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This marvelous work examines Ukrainian history and politics in light of the literature of the country's nationalism. Legends of a heroic past buttress feelings of kinship within national groups, and nationalists, consequently, look to antiquity to rally popular support. Accordingly, Wilson (Ukrainian studies, University Coll., London) surveys the myth of national origin conveyed by Ukraine's supposed biblical origins and the lays (ballads) of ancient Russia. Memories of past grievances, such as subjugation to foreign powers, typically bolster national sentiments. Though Russia dominated the country until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukrainians take pride in their ancient culture, and the widespread use of the Russian language is a daily reminder to the Ukrainians of their traumatic past. Wilson rounds out the study by assessing the country's economic prospects and sketching a future course for Ukrainian geopolitics. As always, the past informs the politics of today. A perfect introduction to a fascinating culture; strongly recommended for all libraries.DJames R. Holmes, Ph.D. candidate, Fletcher Sch. of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts Univ., Medford, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300083556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300083552
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on May 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you want to know about Ukraine but don't read Ukrainian, this is the book for you. Beginning with the myths of pre-history and working up through 1999, Andrew Wilson gives the reader a sense of what it is to be Ukrainian. This is no easy task because Ukraine is a diverse place with a west that is totally different than its east, and with many regional differences in between. He calls it an unexpected nation because its ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional diversity makes it hard for many people to think of it as a single nation. He deals with the complex relationship Ukraine has with its eastern neighbor Russia. Many Ukrainians are of Russian descent and Russian is still the language spoken in many parts of the country. Both countries lay claim to Kyiv as their ancient capital and many of their ancient heroes are the same. Ukraine lies on the border between western Europe and Eurasian Russia. Its western people look to Europe for commerce and culture just as its eastern regions favor Russia.
Although its borders have changed as often as its political fate, Wilson does an admirable job of inclusion. He writes about Western Ukraine, the Crimea and the Donbas (eastern Ukraine) as well as the Ukraine of Kyiv. Often this makes the book difficult to read because so many different regions and their unique perspectives must be taken into consideration. Yet this is what ultimately makes the book so rewarding.
Although Wilson makes use of copious footnoting, most of his references are to Ukrainian language sources that will be inaccessible to his readers. He does an admirable job of introducing us to the major players in the shaping of this new nation; yet seeking out more on any particular aspect of the story may be difficult.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Saporoschenko on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I believe this book was very well-written and fair in its evaluation of Ukrainian history. I based these comments in part on my Ukrainian descent; and my travels and discussions with Ukrainian citizens. The book does a better(and excellent) job of reviewing fairly recent events in Ukrainian politics and demographics; than it does in reviewing Ukrainian history - but that appears to be intentional. As an American, I noticed what appeared to be British colloquialisms in several places that I didn't understand.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Saporoschenko on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I believe this book was very well-written and fair in its evaluation of Ukrainian history. I based these comments in part on my Ukrainian descent; and my travels and discussions with Ukrainian citizens. The book does a better(and excellent) job of reviewing fairly recent events in Ukrainian politics and demographics; than it does in reviewing Ukrainian history - but that appears to be intentional. As an American, I noticed what appeared to be British colloquialisms in several places that I didn't understand.
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By Brian on September 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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