Book Reviews ceed in shaping a coherent Rus' nationality that later gave birth to the three modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus? Or was the East Slavic world divided from the very beginning and did the three nations already exist in Kyivan times?" (p. 354). Plokhy's answer is no to both. The Kyivan state was swept away by the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century well before its religious and secular elites had completed the task (begun in such literary projects as chronicles, saints' lives, and homilies) of forging a single identity from the disparate tribes and peoples within its borders. After the Kyivan state ceased to exist, the idea of a common Rus' identity grew ever fainter as elites undertook new "identity-building projects" to further their own political aspirations, in the process fashioning themselves (and their subjects) as Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians (p. 355). As Plokhy pointedly observes, the question of East Slavic origins is not simply an academic one, but a matter of real significance for nations that today "are still haunted and often led by ghosts of the past" (p. 361). Plokhy's book is not only a masterful synthesis of Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 6, 2009
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