Why did I love this book?
The best and most engaging history of Ukraine that I’ve read is Serhii Plokhy’s The Gates of Europe. I’m left with the impression of lands so desired that all neighbouring powers sought to control them. Ukraine emerges as central to major historical events. In his fluid narrative, Plokhy analyses the complex, troubled history of the region. His account spans centuries, chronicling the myriad of forces shaping Ukraine. Those forces included the Vikings, Scythians, Byzantine Empire, Mongols, Polish-Lithuanian Empire, Cossacks, and the Russian Empire. Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991; the Soviet Union collapsed later that year. Plokhy’s last chapter, which discusses Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas, starts by citing words from the national anthem, “Ukraine has not yet perished.”