Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy: 'This may not be the last chapter of the Russian empire, but it's an important one'


'Being a good historian required me to control my emotions': Serhii Plokhy. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Charlotte Higgins

The Harvard academic on writing while grieving — and where his country goes from here

Before my first reporting trip to Ukraine, one of my seasoned war correspondent colleagues had two pieces of advice. First, not to miss the delicious coffee and pastries you can find in Kyiv (which is a wonderfully reassuring thing to hear as you head off towards a conflict). Second, that it was absolutely necessary to read Serhii Plokhy's 2015 book The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. I did, and it unwound 2,500 years of complex, fascinating and often tragic events, all the way from Herodotus's accounts of the ancient Scythians to the Maidan protests in Kyiv a decade ago. Now Plokhy and I are speaking by Zoom — me from London, he from his home near Harvard, where he is professor of Ukrainian history. He's in his study. There are globes on every surface, and antique maps of Ukraine hang on the walls.

Read More @The Guardian