If you want to find out more about this country and its people, as well its often troubled relationship with its Russian neighbours, we think these are a great place to start.

Serhii Plokhy is a prominent Ukrainian historian and professor.


The Gates of Europe – Serhii Plokhy

Anyone wanting to understand why Russia and the West confront each other over the future of Ukraine will want to read Serhii Plokhy’s reasoned, measured yet passionate account’ Michael Ignatieff

Located at the western edge of the Eurasian steppe, Ukraine has long been the meeting place of empires – Roman to Ottoman, Habsburg to Russian – and they all left their imprint on the landscape, the language and the people living within these shifting borders.

In this authoritative book, Harvard Professor Serhii Plokhy traces the history of Ukraine from the arrival of the Vikings in the tenth century to the current Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.


Chernobyl – Serhii Plokhy

On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded.

While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. The blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, contaminating over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.

In Chernobyl, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy draws on recently opened archives to recreate these events in all their drama. A moment by moment account of the heroes, perpetrators and victims of a tragedy, Chernobyl is the first full account of a gripping, unforgettable Cold War story.


Lost Kingdom – Serhii Plokhy

Russia annexed Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. While the world watched in outrage, this violation of national sovereignty was in fact only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to expand Russian boundaries and create a pan-Russian nation. In Lost Kingdom, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues that we can only understand the merging of imperialism and nationalism in Russia today by delving into its history.

Spanning over two thousand years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin have exploited existing forms of identity, warfare and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy.


Red Famine – Anne Applebaum

In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were.

It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events. The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only available since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger.

It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly ‘anti-revolutionary’ elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering. The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine’s cultural and political leadership – and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all.

Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it, and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations, but that the country’s true history should be buried along with its millions of victims.