Review of the book
“Ukraine. Birth of a Modern Nation”
Contemporary Issues in CEE
For my paper I’ve chosen Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk’s book “Ukraine. Birth of a Modern Nation”. For me as a Ukrainian it was interesting to see the history of my country and the process of formation of Ukrainian nation from the point of view of the Ukrainian Canadian historian. Initially the book was written in English and translated into Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Japanese. Surprisingly it was not translated to Ukrainian, so I had to read it in Russian. Having read some books on Ukrainian history, I can say that this one differs from others and I’ll try to describe, what surprised me the most.
The author doesn’t use the same approach to showing the history and it takes the author only a bit more than 20 pages to go throw the period from tribes to Cossacks (and Yekelchyk is a bit skeptical about this period as an initiation of the Ukrainian nation). Having Ukrainian history as a subject in a secondary and high school I’ve got used to think that the history of Ukraine begins with tribes and the Kievan Rus', but Yekelchyk’s point of view is that modern Ukrainian national identity was formed by public institutions and political processes that occurred in Eastern Europe during the past 200-300 years. Also the author mentions the difference between Ukrainian understanding of the word “nation” as an ethnic community of people united by origin, language and culture, which does not necessarily have their own state and English notion which implies having a state, government. So he says that only during the last 200-300 years the modern Ukrainian nation was formed. Speaking about Ukrainian national revival, S. Yekelchyk analyses its three main stages - the scientific, cultural and political, saying that the first stage was at the end of the XVIII century. With regard to national revival in eastern lands, which were in the Russian Empire, the author calls...
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