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Ukraine & Russia

The eyes of the world are all watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s leaving a number of us yearning to know more about the conflict, the history and politics involved, and the lives caught in the middle.

Each of the titles are linked to our catalog so that you can easily place holds from wherever you are. Simply click on the cover image to jump directly to our library’s catalog.

History of Ukraine

“As Ukraine is embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence, celebrated historian Serhii Plokhy explains that today’s crisis is a case of history repeating itself: the Ukrainian conflict is only the latest in a long history of turmoil over Ukraine’s sovereignty. Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine has been shaped by empires that exploited the nation as a strategic gateway between East and West – from the Romans and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. In The Gates of Europe, Plokhy examines Ukraine’s search for its identity through the lives of major Ukrainian historical figures, from its heroes to its conquerors.

This revised edition includes new material that brings this definitive history up to the present. As Ukraine once again finds itself at the center of global attention, Plokhy brings its history to vivid life as he connects the nation’s past with its present and future.”

-From Amazon.com Go to Goodreads

“In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization – in effect a second Russian revolution – which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.”

-From amazon.com Go to Goodreads

Download a copy of Ukraine: a Book of Essays by Intellectuals in English by visiting ukraineworld.org This title was recommended in the Book Riot post linked above and features a “collection of texts by contemporary Ukrainian intellectuals: writers, historians, philosophers, political analysts, opinion leaders. The texts have been written for an international audience. The collection combines reflections on Ukraine’s history (or histories, in plural), and analysis of the present, conceptual ideas and life stories. The book presents a multi-faceted image of Ukrainian memory and reality: from the Holodomor to Maidan, from Russian aggression to cultural diversity, from the depth of the past to the complexity of the present.

It contains 16 texts: essays and interviews. The authors of the collection are Serhii Plokhy, Andriy Kurkov, Ola Hnatiuk, Irena Karpa, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Yuri Andrukovych, Larysa Denysenko, Vakhtang Kebuladze, Andriy Portnov, Haska Shyyan, Hanna Shelest, Volodymyr Rafeenko, Volodymyr Yermolenko, Alim Aliev, Leonid Finberg, Andrij Bondar.

It is edited by Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher and writer, UkraineWorld’s editor in chief and director for analytics at Internews Ukraine.”

-From ukraineworld.org

Please note – the version available within the System is not the most up-to-date edition of this title.

“As in many postcommunist states, politices in Ukraine revolves around the issue of national identity. Ukrainian nationalists see themselves as one of the world’s oldest and most civilized peoples, as ‘older brothers’ to the younger Russian culture. Yet Ukraine became independent only in 1991, and Ukrainians often feel like a minority in their own county, where Russian is still the main language heard on the streets of the capital, Kiev. This book is a comprehensive guide to modern Ukraine and to the versions of its past propagated by both Russians and Ukrainians. Andrew Wilson provides the most acute, informed … account available of the Ukrainians and their country

Concentrating on the complex relation between Ukraine and Russia, the book begins with the myth of common origin in the early medieval era, then looks closely at the Ukrainian experience under the tsars and Soviets, the experience of minorities in the country, and the path to independence in 1991. Wilson also considers the history of Ukraine since 1991 and the continuing disputes over identity, culture, and religion. He examines the economic collapse under the first president, Leonid Kravchuk, and the attempts at recovery under his successor, Leonid Kuchma. Wilson explores the conflicts in Ukrainian society between the country’s Eurasian roots and its Western aspirations, as well as the significance of the presidential election of November 1999.”

-From amazon.com Go to Goodreads

“On the morning of April 26, 1986, Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill.

In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who heroically extinguished the nuclear inferno. He lays bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the Communist party rule, the regime’s control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else.”

-From goodreads.com Go to Goodreads

“April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.”

-From goodreads.com

https://flowermemoriallibrary.org/ashleys-top-picks-current-events/ for all of the above titles plus those on the history of Russia.

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Booktalking Sweet on You

Coffee shops, Christmas, romance… sign me up! The new romance series by Filipino writer Carla de Guzman continues her exploration of her favorite tropes, places, and food. A war is on when the cute baker next door begins offering cheap coffee and continues with pranks and cheap tactics. Will Sari be able to top him and keep everyone in her cafe or will Gabriel win out, but lose his heart?

Nick on Goodreads said Sweet on You “excels at exploring all the family relationships. Sari and her sisters have a lovely bond and their love for each other shines through. Gabriel’s relationship with his family is a little more complicated as there are lies involved, but the nuances were tackled very well. Then, there’s the setting. This isn’t my first book set in the Philippines, but it still felt like such a fresh look into the part of the country. I love how the community was a living and breathing part of Sweet on You. I did feel like the book lost a bit of steam towards the end, but I wouldn’t say it took away from my enjoyment. All in all, Sweet on You was fun, fluffy, and romantic – what more can I ask of a Christmas romance?”

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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace wakes up in a spaceship light years from Earth. The problem is he doesn’t remember who he is or what he’s supposed to do. But whatever it is, it must be important, or he wouldn’t have been sent on this mission with two other astronauts. Unfortunately, neither of them survived the journey, so he is all alone. And he is Earth’s last hope for survival. — Yun on Goodreads

This is a very readable science fiction book and a wonderful introduction, similar to his hit The Martian, for people new to the genre. The science is extremely believable; the time period is only a little in the future; and the interest and conflicts are continuous. It is intriguing while also being easy to grasp. You can stop any time you like having enjoyed a great read… or you can continue to the end with new challenges and hurdles Grace must overcome never more than a chapter away!

Get outside of yourself and into the universe!