The Gates of Europe Book Cover

The Gates of Europe

A History of Ukraine
Book by: Serhii Plokhy
Publishing Year: 2015
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Amidst the raging armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, let us look into the historical development of the East European region, particularly Ukraine. In these lessons, we will look into the historiographical developments that have taken place in the region from prehistoric times, all the way to the present age. The lessons will take us through the journey in time from 45,000 BC to the ancient to medieval and modern global era.

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Lesson 1- Recent Developments

In 1991, geo-politics underwent a radical change due to events like the disintegration of the Soviet Union - effectively ending the Cold War - and the formation of the Commonwealth of the Independent States of the newly formed states. A referendum took place in Ukraine in which Ukrainians voted for secession from Soviet Russia. Ukraine was also the hub of the Orange Revolution in 2004 against corrupt presidential elections. In 2013, Ukraine saw another bout of massive protest in favour of joining the European Union.

In 2014, things turned tragically bad in Ukraine. A violent confrontation exploded between the protestors and the state authorities. Riot police and government snipers fired upon the protestors.  Russia annexed Crimea and later hybrid warfare took place in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian elements shot down a Malaysian plane, which turned into the Russo-Ukrainian war. 

However, to understand the ongoing Russo-Ukraine crisis, it is important to understand the history of Ukraine in particular and the region in general, which involves Europe as well. It is important to understand the demography of the country as well as the cultural and ethnic identities of the region. Ukraine, which formed after the dissolution of Soviet Russia, has gone through a host of events throughout its long and rich history, which we will discuss in subsequent lessons.

Lesson 2- The Early Humans of Ukraine

Herodotus was the first historian of Ukraine. The Greeks identified the region as a stretch of steppes, mountains and forests north of the Black Sea. It was in Ukraine where the Greeks first encountered the other, the barbaric. This region, some 45,000 years ago, was occupied by Neanderthal mammoth hunters and after 3000 years, humans moved into the Pontic and domesticated the horse. In the fifth millennium BC, humans engaged in animal husbandry and agriculture built large settlements and produced clay statues and coloured ceramics.

The Greeks were first heard about the land north of the Black Sea from a clan of warriors known as Cimmerians. These savages were driven out of the Pontic steppes by the Scythians, following which they moved towards Asia Minor, encountering Mediterranean cultures. In the 6th and 7th Centuries BC, Crimea and the northern shores of the Black Sea became a part of the Greek empires. Herodotus described the Scythians as divided into horsemen and agriculturalists, each occupying a specified region in the northern Black Sea region. The region has several tribes like the Callipedae, descendants of Greek and Scythians. The Royal Scythians were situated towards the north, where the Alazonians were found. The agricultures were

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About the author

Serhii Plokhy Image

Serhii Plokhy, a distinguished historian and author, illuminates pivotal moments in Eastern European history. His acclaimed works like “Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe” offer profound insights into geopolitics, culture, and the h...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1- Recent Developments
  • Lesson 2- The Early Humans of Ukraine
  • Lesson 3- The Slavs, The Vikings and The Scandinavian
  • Lesson 4- The Legend of Volodymyr the Great
  • Lesson 5- The Formation of the Ukrainian Consciousness
  • Lesson 6- The Tussle for Influence
  • Lesson 7- Ushering the Modern Era
  • Lesson 8- 1945 Onwards
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In the summary of The Gates of Europe book, there are 8 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1- Recent Developments
  2. Lesson 2- The Early Humans of Ukraine
  3. Lesson 3- The Slavs, The Vikings and The Scandinavian
  4. Lesson 4- The Legend of Volodymyr the Great
  5. Lesson 5- The Formation of the Ukrainian Consciousness
  6. Lesson 6- The Tussle for Influence
  7. Lesson 7- Ushering the Modern Era
  8. Lesson 8- 1945 Onwards

The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy was published in 2015.

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