If you want to understand more about the complex history of Ukraine we have on display at the Library a selection of relevant books.

From the Crimean War to the Bolshevik Revolution to Putin’s Russia to contemporary writers, we hope the books offer an insight into the current situation.

Ukrainian history in the twentieth century tells the story of some of the most brutal episodes in Europe. The Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918-1919 ran alongside the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1932 and 1933, the Holodomor – a huge famine – killed around 3.5 million Ukrainians. The Great Purges, 1936-1939, swept through Ukraine, too, with notable massacres at Vinnytsia in 1937 where some 10,000 Ukrainians and Poles were executed at the hands of the NKVD. Ukraine was also cut apart during the Second World War. At Babyn Yar, on the outskirts of Kyiv, around 33,000 Ukrainian Jews were murdered by fascists over the course of a couple of days in October 1941.

If the post-war Soviet Union gave some sense of stability to Ukraine, that came crashing down in 1986 when Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a catastrophic accident which marked the biggest civil nuclear accident in history.

With all this historical baggage, Ukraine became independent on 24th August 1991.

The invasion on 22nd February 2022 by Putin’s Russian forces is the latest brutal chapter in the history of Ukraine. Since then, Ukrainians have been under constant attack and have suffered unimaginable destruction and losses.

To read more, Central European University Press has open access books on Ukraine.


(Thanks to Dr James Koranyi of Durham University for this brief summary and for his help in putting the book collection together.)