An authoritative history of Europe’s largest military conflict since World War II, from the New York Times best-selling author of The Gates of Europe.
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 roots of this conflict can be traced back even earlier, to post-Soviet tensions and imperial collapse in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Providing a broad historical context and an examination of Ukraine and Russia’s ideas and cultures, as well as domestic and international politics, Plokhy reveals that while this new Cold War was not inevitable, it was predictable.
Ukraine, Plokhy argues, has remained central to Russia’s idea of itself even as Ukrainians have followed a radically different path. In a new international environment defined by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the disintegration of the post–Cold War international order, and a resurgence of populist nationalism, Ukraine is now more than ever the most volatile fault line between authoritarianism and democratic Europe.
About the Author
Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History and director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, is a leading authority on the history of the Cold War. He is the author of Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters and Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis, among many other works. He lives in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Compelling.... erudite, objective and immensely readable. — Ben Hall - Financial Times
Important and magisterial.... [Plokhy] brilliantly outlines the dangers of perverse history. — David Patrikarakos - The Times (UK), "Book of the Week"
Useful.... [and] very much worth reading.... An excellent survey of unresolved regional tensions. — The Economist
An utterly compelling account, deeply personal, persuasively authoritative, surely the must-read book for this challenging moment. — Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
The essential book about the Russia-Ukraine war—superb, accessible and erudite—by the world’s chief expert. The must-read work. — Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The World: A Family History of Humanity
For those trying to understand the roots of the war in Ukraine, there is no better guide than Serhii Plokhy. It’s impossible to make sense of the Russian invasion of 2022 without knowing something of the history—recent and less recent—and the struggle for Ukrainian national identity; this compelling and lucid book illuminates both. — Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis
Insightful.... Readers aiming to follow the fighting should read the daily news, but for a complete picture, this is the book. — Kirkus Reviews, starred review