Russia’s ongoing quest for empire

“Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation From 1470 to the Present,” by Serhii Plokhy. New York: Basic Books,. 2017.  ISBN: 978-0-465-09849-1. $32 (hardcover), 398 pp. ISBN: 978-0-465-09739-5.


Plokhy on “The Future of the Past”

“The Future of the Past: New Perspectives on Ukrainian History,” edited by Serhii Plokhy, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017. 516 pp. ISBN: 978-7932650167. $29.95 (paperback). Ukraine’s defense against overt Russian aggression is the latest international crisis in East-West relations, which are at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War.


“Knowledge Semantics” theory by Tarnawsky in Ukrainian translation

“Znannieva Semantyka/Teoriia Semantyky, Bazovana na Znanni,” by Yuriy Tarnawsky. Kyiv: National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, 2016. 292 pp. 

“Znannieva Semantyka,” a translation of Yuriy Tarnawsky’s 1982 New York University Ph.D. dissertation, “Knowledge Semantics/A Knowledge-Based Semantic Theory,” is the first work in Ukrainian language on the subject of transformational-generative grammar, an approach to the study of language which has dominated the field of linguistics for over half a century, since its introduction in 1957 by the American linguist Prof. Noam Chomsky of MIT. Sponsored by the U.S. branch of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Ukrainian-language version was created by a group of translators in conjunction with Dr. Tarnawsky, who developed the technical vocabulary and authorized the sections which were not done by him. The project was initiated and coordinated by Prof. Orysia Demska of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.


Pifer’s “Eagle and Trident” examines U.S.-Ukraine relations

“The Eagle and the Trident: U.S.-Ukraine Relations in Turbulent Times,” by Stefen Pifer, Washington: Brookings Institute Press, 2017. 366 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8157-6040-8 ($29.99 hardcover), ISBN: 978-0-8057-3062-0 ($29.99 e-book). “The Eagle and the Trident” provides the first comprehensive account of the development of U.S. diplomatic relations with an independent Ukraine, covering the years 1992 through 2004 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United States devoted greater attention to Ukraine than any other post-Soviet state (except Russia) after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Cover of a recently released German book about displaced persons.

German publication documents displaced persons of World War II

PHILADELPHIA – Toward the end of 2016 the German publishing house Verlag Jörg Mitzkat published a 360-page illustrated and well-documented study by Ernst Würzburger titled “Zwangsarbeit im Kreis Höxter: Fremdarbeiter. Displaced Persons. Heimatlose Ausländer“ (Forced Labor in the Höxter Region: Foreign Workers. Displaced Persons. Stateless Foreigners).


World War II-era memoir is much more than that

“Borders, Bombs, and… Two Right Shoes; World War II through the Eyes of a Ukrainian Child Refugee Survivor,” by Larissa Zaleska Onyshkevych. Charleston, S.C.: Create Space, 2016. 222 pp. ISBN: 0692746544. Price $10.


A study of Ukraine’s democratization and impediments to its realization

“Ukraine: Democratization, Corruption and the New Russian Imperialism,” by Taras Kuzio. Santa Barbara: Praeger Security International, 2015, ISBN-10: 1440835020. XXVI+613 pp., maps, bibliography, index, $75. Most recent analytical studies relating to contemporary Ukrainian history are set within the context of East-West relations or within the history or geopolitics of the region. Missing so far is a more profound insight into the internal dynamics of contemporary Ukrainian history.


An oral history reveals the heart and soul of a people

“Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets,” by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Bela Shayevich. New York: Random House, 2016. 498 pp. ISBN: 9780399. $30 (Amazon: $16.34; e-book $15.99)

Over the decades I’ve read many books, before and after the collapse of the USSR. These books would describe the great events, the leaders, the wars, the financial shenanigans, but reading them was like getting all the nutritional and marketing information on a food product but never being able to taste it.


On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

“On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” by Timothy Snyder. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-8041-9011-4. 128 p. $7.99 (e-book, ISBN: 978-0-8041-9012-1. $3.99)

Historian Timothy Snyder’s latest book, “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” is a short pocket-sized book of 127 pages broken down into 20 chapters.


A house we know and love

“Kazka pro Malenku Khatu bilia Maloho Lisu” (Tale of the Little House by the Little Woods), by Luba Gawur. Kyiv: Smoloskyp, 2016. 46 pp, $15. As many published memoirs about the Ukrainian Displaced Persons appear on the scene, this small 46-page book (in Ukrainian), “Tale of the Little House by the Little Woods,” by Luba Gawur is a unique gem. It is not a summary of historical events, but rather an introspective reflection on universal experiences and emotional upheavals of many post-World War II Ukrainian refugees.