Twenty-five years ago, Ukraine took a monumental step in its history, declaring independence from the USSR on August 24, 1991. Since then, the country has wrestled with its past, its future, and competing images of its national identity. Now—especially given the turbulence of recent events in Crimea—understanding the fullness of the country’s history is essential for Ukrainians, policy-makers, and scholars abroad.
Serhii Plokhy’s Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine is one resource offering a new history that helps unpack Ukraine's current events and now, not quite a year after its debut in English, the book has been translated into Ukrainian. Клуб сімейного дозвілля (The Club of Family Reading), a Kharkiv-based Ukrainian publishing house, which is part of the Bertelsmann Group, published the Ukrainian translation under the title «Брама Європи. Історія України від скіфських воєн до Незалежності» (“Gates of Europe: The History of Ukraine from the Scythian Wars to Independence”) and dedicated it to the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. The book will offer Ukrainian-speaking scholars and historians a valuable resource for understanding 2,500 years of Ukraine’s history, up to the annexation of Crimea.
Plokhy wrote Gates of Europe to address a gap in the academic and policy landscape, particularly within the United States. For example, most Eastern European history classes present information from a Russian perspective, leaving much unsaid about other countries in the region. As a consequence of this and other factors, most experts who help form policy on Ukraine working in think tanks and government positions are Russian studies specialists. To really understand Ukraine and its current situation requires a deeper understanding of the country’s unique history.
“This is present-minded history at its most urgent,” Michael Ignatieff, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said. “Anyone wanting to understand why Russia and the West confront each other over the future of Ukraine will want to read Serhii Plokhy's reasoned, measured yet passionate account of Ukraine's historic role at the gates of Europe.”
The book’s strong reception among English-speaking readers attests to both its scholarly value and its readability. A strong writer as well as a skilled historian, Plokhy tells Ukraine’s history in a way that reads like a story while conveying well-researched, essential facts.
“Serhii Plokhy has produced a perfect new history of Ukraine for these troubled times — authoritative and innovative, but always clear and accessible, and a delight to read,” said Andrew Wilson, Professor of Ukrainian Studies at University College London.
Plokhy will attend the Форум видавців (Publishers Forum) in Lviv, September 16-18, where he will meet with students, scholars, and readers.
Serhii Plokhy recently gave an interview with Hromadske Radio about the book (in Ukrainian): Я написав книгу, щоб іноземці розуміли українську історію, — професор Гарварду.