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Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This is THE essential book for anyone who wants to understand Ukraine and learn why Putin is so hot and bothered by it.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Too many interesting characters to list
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ralph Lister?
Almost anybody else. Book is great; Lister's reading is terrible. He hasn't bothered to learn how to pronounce Ukrainian names and places and mangles them. When he quotes someone he goes into a strange, strangled voice.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
The Gates of Europe is a perfect tagline
Any additional comments?
Professor Plokhy is an honest blunt historian and he goes into events some Ukrainian writers have downplayed, like the pogroms against the Jews. He gives clear explanations of complex events. He doesn't whitewash the Ukrainians and shows their bad fortune was often due to an inability to cooperate, to shrewdly plan, to a willingness to be deluded. This is the best book on Ukrainian history I have read.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
In aerodynamics we analyze fluid flow (fluid HISTORY) in two fundamentally different ways: by considering the trajectories of individual particles and tracing wherever they go (Lagrangian), or by fixing our attention on a fixed region of space and watching how it changes over time (Eulerian). Here in "The Gates of Europe" we have our history by fixing our attention on a region of space - the Ukraine. This "Eulerian" consideration of history allows us to develop a cohesive story from very early to very recent times. It is a nice counterpoint to other, more "Lagrangian", histories of the region which consider the movements of individual groups (Goths, Steppe Nomads, Slavs, Jews, Cossacks, etc) in more detail, but which lack a cohesive thread with modernity as each group moves and splinters over wide expanses of territory.
That's a cute way of describing the first three sections of this book, which deal with the region and peoples of the Ukraine in its pre-nation form. There is serious and deep scholarship here. From section four on, we launch into all the history necessary to understand the current struggles of Ukraine to bond more closely with Europe and shake Moscow's creepy embrace. In this sense, this is a must-read for anyone interested in today's politics of the region.
And yes, in agreement with other reviews, the narration is slightly grating. Part of this is the word soup of Eastern European names, particularly in the beginning sections. Slowing the narration to 0.90x speed helps tons. So don't let this stop you from diving into this well-done Eulerian analysis of the Ukraine.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful