We gathered recommendations for books about Ukraine – Twin Cities

As Vladimir Putin continues his current war against Ukraine and we see heartbreaking pictures of fleeing refugees and bombed buildings, readers want to know more about this large country with a long, bloody history. There are so many recommendations for books about Ukraine, it’s easy to get lost in the lists. Well, good news. We’ve done it for you. Collating “best of Ukraine” books from newspapers, magazines, literary journals and reputable websites, we’ve compiled titles that appear on all the lists, beginning with the two most popular.

“Red Famine: Stalin’s War On Ukraine, 1921-1933” by Anne Applebaum (Knopf/Doubleday) — A Pulitzer Prize-winning author tells the story of the nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died of starvation in 1932-33, deliberately deprived of food. She investigates how this happened and who was responsible, showing how the Soviet state used propaganda to turn neighbors against each other (does that sound familiar now?) and how the famine was followed by an attack on Ukraine’s cultural and political leadership. The Soviets wanted Ukraine to abandon its national aspirations and bury the country’s history. A book that proves the past is prologue.

“The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine” by Serhii Plokhy (Hatchette) — The Wall Street Journal called this definitive history “an exemplary account of Europe’s least-known large country.” Written by a celebrated historian who explains that today’s crisis has been shaped by empires that exploited the nation as a strategic gateway between East and West — from the Romans and Ottomans to the third Reich and Soviet Union.

“Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” by Adam Higginbotham (Simon & Schuster) — The explosion in 1986 of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station Reactor Number Four triggered history’s worst nuclear disaster. Now under control of the Russians, Chernobyl represents everything horrifying about such a disaster. The author maintains that the real story of the accident, clouded by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

hip-hop ukraine book cover“Hip hop Ukraine: Music, Race, and African Migration” by Adriana N. Helbig (Indiana University Press) — Explores unique sites of interracial encounters among African students, African immigrants, and local populations in Eastern Ukraine. The author combines ethnographic research with music, media, and policy analysis to examine how localized forms of hip-hop create social and political spaces where interracial youth culture can speak to issues of human rights.

“I Will Die in a Foreign Land” by Kalani Pickhart (Two Dollar Radio) — A novel that received a starred review from Publishers Weekly about four characters, whose lives have been shattered, among thousands of demonstrators gathered in Kyiv in 2013 and 2014 to protest Russian interference.

“borderlands” by Anna Reid (Basic Books) — The story of Ukraine, beginning a thousand years ago when it was the center of the first great Slav civilization. After the 1240 Mongol invasion it was split for the next seven centuries between warring neighbors. The author combines her research and her own experiences to chart Ukraine’s tragic past.

“Lucky Breaks” by Yergenia Belorusets (New Directions) — A story collection set in the impoverished coal regions of Ukraine, focusing on women emerging from the ruins of a war, still being waged on and off, ever since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. These are anonymous women with ordinary lives who are survivors. Includes 23 photographs that form their own visual narrative.

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