Understanding Ukraine: A Reading List

Submitted by Nick Grall on

Like much of the world, we have watched the crisis unfolding in Ukraine with deep concern. And although current events are never entirely dictated by the events of the past, any serious effort to understand the conflict in Ukraine must reckon with its historical context. As an aid to those seeking to understand the conflict, learn about the history of Ukraine, and discover more about the relationship between Ukraine and Russia, the department would like to recommend the following resources. This list by no means is comprehensive, but it does provide a starting point on a variety of topics related to Ukraine history.

The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization
Ray Brandon and Wendy Lower (eds.) in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (2008)

Kiev: A Portrait, 1800-1917
Michael F. Hamm (2014)

Culture, Nation, and Identity: The Ukranian-Russian Encounter (1600-1945)
Andreas Kappeler, Zenon Kohut, Frank Sysyn, and Mark von Hagen (eds.) (2003)

The Ukrainian Question: The Russian Empire and Nationalism in the 19th Century
Alexei Miller (2003)

“Revisiting the Histories of Ukraine”
Mark von Hagen in A Laboratory of Transnational History: Ukraine and Recent Ukrainian Historiography, Georgiy Kasianov and Phillip Ther (eds.) (2009)

“Does Ukraine Have a History?”
Mark von Hagen in Slavic Review 54(3), pp. 658-73

From Imperial Russia to Colonial Ukraine
Mark von Hagen in The Shadow of Colonialism on Europe’s Modern Past, Róisin Healy and Enrico Dal Lago (eds.) (2014)

Serhii Plokhy is a professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard who has written extensively on Ukraine and its history. Here is a sampling of his work:

  • Unmaking Imperial Russia: Mykhailo Hrushevsky and the Writing of Ukrainian History (2005)
  • The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus (2006)
  • Ukraine and Russia: Representations of the Past (2008)
  • The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires (2012)
  • The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (2015)
  • The Future of the Past: New Perspectives on Ukrainian History (2016)
  • “The Return of the Empire: The Ukraine Crisis in the Historical Perspective” South Central Review 35(1), pp. 111-26

The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999
Timothy D. Snyder (2003)

The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939
Terry Martin (2001)

Stalin’s Empire of Memory: Russian-Ukrainian Relations in the Soviet Historical Imagination
Serhy Yekelchyk (2004)

A further resource that may be of interest is a podcast of the panel discussion hosted by the UW Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies on March 7, 2022, In Focus: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine.