A selection of books on Russia and Ukraine

With the war in Ukraine that began with Russia’s invasion in February 2022, still going on, there’s a clamour to explain the past, present and future of the confrontation

January 07, 2023 04:38 pm | Updated 04:39 pm IST

A firefighter stands at a burning house hit by the Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine.

A firefighter stands at a burning house hit by the Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AP

Russia’s War on Everybody by Keir Giles, a new book slated for release in end-January, explores how and why Russia pushes for more power and influence wherever it can reach, far beyond Ukraine even, and what it means not just for governments but for ordinary people. 

The Story of Russia by Orlando Figes is a 1,000-year history of Russia, which developed on a flat territory without natural boundaries. “Its position made it vulnerable to foreign invasion,” says Figes in the introduction. From the rise of Moscow, the founding core of the Russian state, to Putin’s wars in Ukraine, history shows that Russia tends to advance its security by keeping neighbouring countries weak, and by fighting wars beyond its borders to keep hostile powers at arms’s length, argues Figes.

Luke Harding’s war reportage from Ukraine is collected in his book  Invasion: Russia’s Bloody War and Ukraine’s Fight for Survival. When Russian forces attacked Ukraine on February 24, Harding was in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and reported on the resilience he saw on the ground, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Besides writing portraits of leaders on both sides, Harding provides an intimate glimpse of ordinary people affected by the war.

Last May, Mark Andryczyk edited a collection,  Writing from Ukraine, which has fiction, poetry, non-fiction and essays since 1965. The anthology presents a wide assortment of styles, “lyric, experimental, surrealistic”, and cover a variety of topics such as history, gender and nature that provide “access to issues significant to the people of Ukraine”.

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