February 20, 2019

Recommended Reading

Borderland by Ann Reid combines a British journalist’s Ukrainian travels with her easy-going discussion of Ukraine’s tumultuous past. A good book for those who know little of Ukraine’s past and have a light interest in history.

Ukraine: A History by Orest Subtelny work is the major history on Ukraine in English. Over 600 pages of small text, it is not for the mild-hearted and written from a mildly nationalistic perspective.

The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation by Andrew Wilson requires knowledge of Ukrainian history since the author explores the origins of the notion of Ukraine. His work seems balanced, but may not be liked by a nationalist.

For 70 years in Ukraine, the Communist Party shaped reading. Their policies promoted some authors and banned many others. Thus, writers popular in America and Europe may not even be known in Taras ShevchenkoUkraine. Other not-so-popular writers in the West may be very well known. Jack London and Agathie Christie are very popular in Russian. In schools, most are required to read either all or part of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and War and Peace. Pushkin’s poetry is unbelievably popular. Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), relatively unheard of in the West, is thought to be Ukraine’s greatest writer. Shevchenko, whose likeness shown here stands in Shevchenko park near his namesake university , was the first writer to popularize Ukrainian as a literary language. Mikhail Bulgakov, though born in Kyiv, spent most of his life in Moscow. His works, especially The Master and Margarita, stand as probably Ukraine’s most popular modern literature. Anyone planning to minister in Ukraine should read this fascinating novel.

Numerous travel books give some space to Ukraine and Kyiv. Let’s Go and Lonely Planet cover Ukraine but not in a separate volume. Lonely Planet’s Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus contains an excellent, brief section on Ukraine’s past and present. Hippocrene’s Ukraine is the only separate volume travel book on Ukraine. Culture Shock: Ukraine is not recommended since its descriptions of Kyiv life are very dated. Ukraine travel guides are rare in Kyiv. Buy before coming if you might need such a guide.

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