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In the years following the Napoleonic Wars, a mysterious manuscript began to circulate among the dissatisfied noble elite of the Russian Empire. Entitled The History of the Rus', it became one of the most influential historical texts of the modern era. Attributed to an eighteenth-century Orthodox archbishop, it described the heroic struggles of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Alexander Pushkin read the book as a manifestation of Russian national spirit but Taras Shevchenko interpreted it as a quest for Ukrainian national liberation and it would inspire thousands of Ukrainians to fight for the freedom of their homeland. Serhii Plokhy tells the fascinating story of the text's discovery and dissemination unravelling the mystery of its authorship and tracing its subsequent impact on Russian and Ukrainian historical and literary imagination. In so doing he brilliantly illuminates the relationship between history, myth, empire and nationhood from Napoleonic times to the fall of the Soviet Union.
|Cambridge University PressCambridge University Press
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"With its impressive source base, deep analysis, and thoughtful integration into comparative studies of empire, this book offers valuable insights for historians of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, as well as scholars interested in Ukrainian history and culture, eastern European historiography and comparative studies of empire." — Rebecca Mitchell, Canadian Journal of History
"Serhii Plohky has written one of the most important and captivating monographs on modern Ukrainian history and the Ukrainian-Russian relationship to come out in recent years. For the general reader, the tome is cast as a fascinating search for clues that begins with numerous theories on the authorship, time of composition and purpose of the 'History' before Plohky elegantly lays out his own theories by taking the reader through the steps by which he came to his views." — Frank Sysyn, The Russian Review