The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine
By Serhii Plokhy
The edge of Western civilization. The breadbasket of Europe. Of the many roles Ukraine has played throughout its history, perhaps the most important has been as Europe’s borderland. The world was reminded of as much in 2014, when protests erupted in the capital of Kiev, unleashing a chain of events that would lead to the ouster of the Ukrainian president, the introduction Russian patrols in eastern Ukraine, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Russia called the uprising a Western-backed coup, while the West welcomed the developments. Many feared the country would splinter along pro-Russia and pro-Europe lines. And so, Ukraine’s status as Europe’s first frontier was once again secured.
But in “The Gates of Europe,” Serhii Plokhy’s meticulous telling of Ukrainian history shows that these events weren’t as unique or unexpected as one might think. Ukraine’s history is littered with uprisings and ethnic, cu