The most recommended books about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Who picked these books? Meet our 10 experts.

10 authors created a book list connected to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and here are their favorite Russian invasion of Ukraine books.
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Book cover of The Distortions

Beth Castrodale Author Of The Inhabitants

From my list on confronting trauma or loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

All of my novels explore, in some way, how the characters are affected by trauma or loss, and how they respond to these difficulties over time. This comes partly from my impatience with the notion of “closure” and with the idea that we can ever truly find it after a traumatic event or a significant loss. I’m drawn to fiction and nonfiction that doesn’t shy away from the messiness of finding a way to live with these difficulties, or trying to. In addition to writing fiction, I’ve spent nearly ten years recommending novels and story collections through my Small Press Picks website.

Beth's book list on confronting trauma or loss

Beth Castrodale Why did Beth love this book?

Although the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001) aren’t always addressed head-on in this sweeping and revelatory story collection, they haunt nearly every tale in the book. Collectively, the stories shed light on the varied human costs of war, and on how they can reverberate across time. The book has inspired me to learn more about the Yugoslav Wars, and it feels especially relevant in light of the Russia-Ukraine war, which also seems destined to have deep and lasting repercussions. As I read the stories, I considered how immersing us in the lives of those affected by wars can bring home these repercussions so much more effectively than, say, news accounts. I admire the breadth of this collection, which also includes thought-provoking stories about challenged romantic relationships, making art, and more.

By Christopher Linforth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Distortions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Distortions we glimpse a pageant of characters struggling to understand their lives after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Scarred by the last major war fought on European soil, the women and men of these stories question what such a violent past can mean in comfortable, capitalistic modern Europe. From London and Brooklyn and Norway, to the Blue Grotto of Biševo and the war-torn fields of Slavonia, this collection blends Yugoslavian and American stories of great emotional and geographical amplitude.



Book cover of The Russo-Ukrainian War: The Return of History

Geoffrey Roberts Author Of Stalin's Library: A Dictator and his Books

From my list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning historian, biographer, and political commentator. As a specialist in Soviet history, my books have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Finnish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Geoffrey's book list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war

Geoffrey Roberts Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Plokhy is a renowned Ukrainian-American historian who makes no secret of where his sympathies lie. His partisan, pro-Ukraine narrative of the war and its origins is vigorous and informative.

Of particular value is his highly illuminating account of the triangular relationship between Russia, Ukraine, and the United States in the run-up to the war.

By Serhii Plokhy,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Russo-Ukrainian War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite repeated warnings from the White House, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 shocked the world. Why did Putin start the war-and why has it unfolded in previously unimaginable ways? Ukrainians have resisted a superior military; the West has united, while Russia grows increasingly isolated.

Serhii Plokhy, a leading historian of Ukraine and the Cold War, offers a definitive account of this conflict, its origins, course, and the already apparent and possible future consequences. Though the current war began eight years before the all-out assault-on February 27, 2014, when Russian armed forces seized the building of the Crimean parliament-the…


Book cover of Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin's War Against Ukraine

Shane O'Rourke Author Of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, Princess Isabel and the Ending of Servile Labour in Russia and Brazil

From my list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am teacher of Russian History in the University of York and have been in both countries many times. Russia’s war against Ukraine is something that has touched me personally and professionally in the most profound way: witnessing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been heartbreaking. Understanding why that war happened and what its consequences will be is of vital importance for anyone interested in the modern world, in justice, and the future of Europe. These books offer clear, passionate, and compelling accounts of the war, explaining the historical background, the immediate causes, the principle actors, and the Russian way of waging of the war.

Shane's book list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine

Shane O'Rourke Why did Shane love this book?

Owen Matthews is a journalist with unrivalled knowledge of the Russian political establishment.

A native Russian and English speaker, he spent many years working for the Moscow Times. He presents a fascinating account of the inner working of the Russian elite, not only of Putin, but of those in a position to influence him.

He charts the process, step by step, how Putin came to take his disastrous decision to launch the war against Ukraine, which in a matter of weeks has undone 30 years of development and progress in Russia. Disconcertingly but convincingly, he concludes that the Russian elites and the majority of the population still share Putin’s imperial fantasies, especially regarding Ukraine.

By Owen Matthews,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Overreach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A Telegraph Book of the Year*

*Shortlisted for the Parliamentary Book Awards*

An astonishing investigation into the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war - from the corridors of the Kremlin to the trenches of Mariupol.

The Russo-Ukrainian War is the most serious geopolitical crisis since the Second World War - and yet at the heart of the conflict is a mystery. Vladimir Putin apparently lurched from a calculating, subtle master of opportunity to a reckless gambler, putting his regime - and Russia itself - at risk of destruction. Why?

Drawing on over 25 years' experience as a correspondent in Moscow, as…


Book cover of Putin

Geoffrey Roberts Author Of Stalin's Library: A Dictator and his Books

From my list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning historian, biographer, and political commentator. As a specialist in Soviet history, my books have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Finnish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Geoffrey's book list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war

Geoffrey Roberts Why did Geoffrey love this book?

The Russo-Ukrainian war is Putin’s war. Putin took the decision to invade Ukraine. He is the one who will decide how far the Russian army penetrates into Ukraine and how and when the war will end.

To understand the war’s causes, course, and consequences, we need to get inside Putin’s head. Philip Short’s is by far the best Putin biography. What impressed me most was Short’s dedication to avoiding stereotypes and telling Putin’s amazing story as truthfully as he could.

By Philip Short,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Putin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**A DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022**

'Anyone wanting to learn more about Putin's personality, ideas, power...should read this outstanding biography' Ian Kershaw, author of Personality and Power

This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what is happening in Ukraine today.

Vladimir Putin has the power to reduce the United States and Europe to ashes in a nuclear firestorm. He invades his neighbours, most recently Ukraine, meddles in western elections and orders assassinations inside and outside Russia.

Yet many Russians continue to support him. Despite western sanctions, the majority have been living better than at…


Book cover of The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine

Douglas Kellner Author Of American Horror Show: Election 2016 and the Ascent of Donald Trump

From my list on Russia invasion of Ukraine and threats to democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work since the 1970s has focused on the major political struggles of the day as they impact U.S. democracy and provide challenges for understanding and action. As a professional philosopher, I focused on ways that history, philosophy, and theory provide key tools for the interpretation and critique of salient issues. I've written books on U.S. politics and the media, the Gulf War and Iraq War, 9/11 and the War on Terror, and am particularly interested in the interaction between Russia, the U.S., and Europe; hence, the rise of Putin in Russia, the New Cold War, and the 2020s conflict in Ukraine and the response of Western democracies.

Douglas' book list on Russia invasion of Ukraine and threats to democracy

Douglas Kellner Why did Douglas love this book?

Plokhy’s engaging and well-documented study provides an excellent overview of the entire history of Ukraine and the repeated story of invasion, war, and occupation by its neighbors Poland and especially Russia. In particular, it provides sharp analyses of the complex relations between Ukraine and Russia from the time of its Czars through Stalin, the post-Stalinist Kremlin leadership, and Putin, providing contemporary readers penetrating insights into the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The book depicts in dramatic detail and narrative the century-long struggles of Ukraine for sovereignty, its century-long oppression by its neighbors, the terrible mass starvation and murder it suffered from both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in World War II, and its eventual independence—threatened by Russia in the 21st century through the present. In the contemporary context, Plotky’s text provides an illuminating understanding of Ukraine and its conflicted and often tragic history.

By Serhii Plokhy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gates of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense fight with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence. But today's conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine's territory and its existence as a sovereign nation. As the award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues in The Gates of Europe , we must examine Ukraine's past in order to understand its present and future.Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that used it as a strategic gateway between East and West,from the Roman and Ottoman empires to the Third…


Book cover of Grey Bees

Patricia Bracewell Author Of The Steel Beneath the Silk

From Patricia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical novelist Anglophile Avid traveler

Patricia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Patricia Bracewell Why did Patricia love this book?

The really unusual setting for this book is a Ukrainian village that has been decimated by war and is inhabited by only two people.

It illustrates the absurdity of war, and it made me think hard about how I would survive in similar circumstances—living without heat or electricity or contact with the outside world. It gave me a window into the terrifying circumstances under which many people are living today.

I found it impossible not to care about the main character, a simple man who wants to do nothing more than raise his bees in peace, but is surrounded by conflict and unimaginable loss. 

By Andrey Kurkov, Boris Dralyuk (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Grey Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a warm yet political humor, Ukraine’s most famous novelist presents a balanced and illuminating portrait of modern conflict.



Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine's Grey Zone, the no-man's-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant threat of bombardment, Sergeyich's one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take…


Book cover of Ukraine, War, Love: A Donetsk Diary

Anna Müller Author Of An Ordinary Life?: The Journeys of Tonia Lechtman, 1918-1996

From my list on melancholy, love, and identity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of modern Poland. I teach, write, and think a lot about Poland and its place in Europe and the world. Regardless of where I live, Poland will always be my first home, where strawberries taste the best, the forest offers the most calming shade in the summer, and the language sounds the sweetest. But Poland is also a conundrum—perhaps similar to anywhere else and unique simultaneously. Its successes and failures, the traumas it caused and experienced, are part of me, and they keep pushing me to search for people and their stories that help us see the complexity of human life and individual choices.

Anna's book list on melancholy, love, and identity

Anna Müller Why did Anna love this book?

It is a personal account of a historian examining life in Donetsk, Ukraine, during Russia's 2014 takeover. The author chronicles her experiences and observations living in a city torn apart by war, offering insights into the daily struggles, fears, and hopes of the people caught amid the conflict.

It's powerful, poignant, and full of anecdotes book that will break your heart while showing a never-ending devotion to life that Ukrainians have built. It may not be perfect, but it's theirs. "Ukraine, to me, is like my dad. It's my light. My home," says the author.

By Olena Stiazhkina, Anne O. Fisher (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ukraine, War, Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Ukraine, War, Love, Olena Stiazhkina depicts day-to-day developments in and around her beloved hometown Donetsk during Russia's 2014 invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian city. An award-winning fiction writer, Stiazhkina chronicles an increasingly harrowing series of events with sarcasm, anger, humor, and love.

The diary opens on March 2, 2014, as the first wave of pro-Russian protest washes over eastern Ukraine in the wake of Euromaidan, the Revolution of Dignity, and it closes on August 18, 2014, the day a convoy of civilian Ukrainian refugees is deliberately slaughtered by Russian forces. Early on, Stiazhkina is captured by pro-Russian forces…


Book cover of The Orphanage

Diane Lefer Author Of Out of Place

From Diane's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Social justice activist Hiker Animal lover Latin America connected Always curious

Diane's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Diane Lefer Why did Diane love this book?

Pasha’s quest is to bring his nephew home from an orphanage. But this is eastern Ukraine and he must navigate the Gray Zone, a landscape of threat, death, and shifting languages, lines, and loyalties.

With the people he meets along the way, he shares hardship and suffering and, at times, personal animosity while there’s no predicting who will meet with sudden death. Zhadan’s powerful novel isn’t just topical. He plunged me into the reality of civilians in wartime in an astounding work I won’t soon forget. I am grateful to the translators.

By Serhiy Zhadan, Reilly Costigan-Humes (translator), Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Orphanage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A devastating story of the struggle of civilians caught up in the conflict in eastern Ukraine

Chosen as one of "Six Books to Read for Context on Ukraine" by the New York Times

Selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the "20 Best Books of 2021"

"Powerful . . . For those who want a glimpse of what life will be like in Ukraine for years to come, The Orphanage offers a frightening glimpse."-Bill Marx, Arts Fuse

If every war needs its master chronicler, Ukraine has Serhiy Zhadan, one of Europe's most promising novelists. Recalling the brutal landscape of The…


Book cover of Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev

Douglas Kellner Author Of American Horror Show: Election 2016 and the Ascent of Donald Trump

From my list on Russia invasion of Ukraine and threats to democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work since the 1970s has focused on the major political struggles of the day as they impact U.S. democracy and provide challenges for understanding and action. As a professional philosopher, I focused on ways that history, philosophy, and theory provide key tools for the interpretation and critique of salient issues. I've written books on U.S. politics and the media, the Gulf War and Iraq War, 9/11 and the War on Terror, and am particularly interested in the interaction between Russia, the U.S., and Europe; hence, the rise of Putin in Russia, the New Cold War, and the 2020s conflict in Ukraine and the response of Western democracies.

Douglas' book list on Russia invasion of Ukraine and threats to democracy

Douglas Kellner Why did Douglas love this book?

Andrey Kurkov is one of Ukraine’s most popular and best-known writers, acclaimed for the satirical Penquin Diaries and many other amusing and penetrating satires of Russia and Ukraine. His Diaries, written during 2014-2015 provide an illuminating first-hand account of the beginning of Russia’s plans to take-over Ukraine, beginning with the seizure of Crimea and Russia’s encouraging and arming of separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine that is hotly contested militarily as I write in summer 2022. Kurkov combines insightful political analysis and documentation of the ongoing crisis in his country with poignant pictures of everyday life and his relations with his wife, children, and friends, ranging from personal crises to social celebrations. Kurkov also provides accounts of his literary activities and cultural activities in Ukraine and Europe, providing vibrant accounts of Ukraine culture, while also expressing his pro-democratic and often satirical and caustic accounts of Ukraine’s politics and…

By Andrey Kurkov, Sam Taylor (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ukraine Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed author Andrey Kurkov gives powerful insight into life in Kyiv following the 2013 protests and before the 2022 Russian invasion.

-16 DegreesC, sunlight, silence. I drove the children to school, then went to see the revolution. I walked between the tents. Talked with rev olutionaries. They were weary today. The air was thick with the smell of old campfires.

Ukraine Diaries is acclaimed writer Andrey Kurkov's first-hand account of the ongoing crisis in his country. From his flat in Kyiv, just five hundred yards from Independence Square, Kurkov can smell the burning barricades and hear the sounds of grenades…


Book cover of If That's Leading, I'm In: Women Redefining Leadership

Natalia I. Kucirkova Author Of Inspirational Women in Academia: Supporting Careers and Improving Minority Representation

From Natalia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Innovator Multilinguist Harp- and piano player

Natalia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Natalia I. Kucirkova Why did Natalia love this book?

I eagerly anticipated the advanced copy of this book and was deeply moved by its wisdom. Julia's insights, drawn from conversations with thousands of women over years, including the Women Emerging podcast, offer a treasure trove of knowledge.

The book challenges the modern trend of paid coaching and self-promotion on social media as indicators of successful leaders. Instead, it delves into a profound reflection on the true essence of leadership. The book's ingenious map is a unique way of illustrating the journey inward of inspirational women.

With the infinity symbol at its core, 'Essence' forms the central circle, flanked by 'Elements' and 'Expression', with 'Energy' flowing through it. The map locates readers’ distinct leadership style and acknowledging the innate leadership women demonstrate within their families and communities.

By Julia Middleton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If That's Leading, I'm In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"We all know what leadership is. What we don't know is why so many women are turned off by the whole idea of doing it.

Because leadership has generally been defined by men (and is mainly done by men), we also know that most of the women who do lead think that, in order to succeed, they have to do it like men.

But what if they don't?

What if the problem isn't with women - it's with leadership? And, in a world that needs all the good leaders it can get right now, what will it take for more…