“The first book on any reading list should be Timothy Snyder Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin‘ Edward Lucas said in The times. An exploration of Nazi and Soviet atrocities in the “Bloodlands” of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus during the 1930s and 1940s, it is the “best refutation of Putin’s Soviet-centric, cod-imperialist approach to the past” reported in his speeches and the “Wanderessessay” which he published last year. It is supplemented by Anne Applebaums Red Famine: Stalin’s War in Ukraine, a report on Stalin’s mass starvation program in Ukraine. “Only by understanding Ukraine’s historical trauma at Russian hands can Western readers begin to appreciate the depth of the country’s desire for peace and sovereignty.” For a more complete account of Ukraine’s history, Serhii Plokhy’s The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine is “masterful”. It explains why the “erroneous” belief that Ukraine is not a real nation is so important to Russian nationalists.
Still, it’s important to remember that Russia and Ukraine “share much of their history,” Orlando Figes said in The Observer. Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepards The emergence of Rus 750-1200 is a scholarly guide to their common origins in the “loose medieval state founded by the Vikings on the river routes between the Baltic and Black Seas”. A number of novelists have also delved into the “common culture” of the two countries, Oliver Bullough said in The guard. In my opinion, no one has done this more successfully than Nikolai Gogol, especially in his short stories. “Growing up in Ukraine, discovered in Russia, revered in both, Gogol conjures up the absurdity of life under autocracy better than anyone else.” In order to understand Russia’s contemporary autocracy, however, the “most important book” is that of Catherine Belton Putin’s people. It tells the inside story of how Putin “built a nuclear-armed mafia state”.
As the current conflict is showing us, domestic warfare can be “uniquely brutalizing,” Saul David said in The times. The siege tactics employed by the Russians have even led to hints that Ukraine may be witnessing a “new Stalingrad”. To understand these words, “Read Antony Beevors Stalingrad, the classic account of Hitler’s failed attempt to seize the Volga city in World War II, which left two million dead. Another conflict with echoes today is Russia’s second war against Chechnya, which lasted from 1999 to 2009. “Two excellent eyewitness accounts” of Putin’s “reckless tactics” that reduced Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to rubble come from Thomas Goltz Chechen diary and A dirty war journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow in 2006.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/books/956136/war-in-ukraine-best-books-conflict-background War in Ukraine: The best books on the background of the conflict