TCUP Book Club: Read with the Experts

February 10, 2020
TCUP Book Club: Read with the Experts

HURI's Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program is holding a month-long, interactive book club, which will culminate in an event with the author to discuss the book in person.

The first TCUP Book Club will read former Shklar Fellow Paul D'Anieri's new book, Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War. The book, which covers the period from 1989 to 2015, examines Ukraine's geopolitical importance, its relationship with Russia and place in the former Soviet Union, and its journey from independence to revolution to war.

Register for Book Club

Throughout the month of March, several scholars will join TCUP Director Emily Channell-Justice in posting their questions and comments about the book on Twitter, where anyone can join the conversation. We will also provide a weekly round-up of commentary by email to registered participants. Finally, on March 30, 2020, participants in the book club as well as the wider public may join author Paul D'Anieri and the participating scholars for an in-person book talk and discussion. Those who are not able to attend in person may join the event live on YouTube.

Our panel of experts include:

  • Margarita Balmaceda, professor of diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University, and research associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.
    Focus: energy and foreign policies.
  • Oxana Shevel, associate professor of political science at Tufts University, associate of the Davis Center and Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard, and current HURI Research Fellow. 
    Focus: nation- and state-building, the politics of citizenship and migration, memory politics, and the influence of international institutions on democratization.
  • George Soroka, lecturer on government, assistant director of undergraduate studies, affiliate of the Center for European Studies, and HURI associate at Harvard University.
    Focus: politics of history. 
  • Serhii Plokhii, Ukrainian Research Institute director and Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard Univesity.
    Focus: intellectual, cultural, and international history of Eastern Europe.
  • Emily Channell-Justice, TCUP Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University; anthropologist. 
    Focus: contemporary Ukrainian politics, economy, and society, with a focus on social movements, gender issues, and economic development.

Follow HURI on Twitter at @HURI_Harvard and watch for the hashtag #TCUPreadsDANIERI.

Please register to participate as a member of the book club throughout the month. Although registration is not required, it is recommended. Registered participants will receive weekly email reminders and an overview of the conversation so they may be engaged whether or not they're active on Twitter. Furthermore, upon registering, you will receive a discount code for 20% off when you purchase the book through Cambridge University Press.

Register here to receive the discount code and weekly emails.

To keep the conversation focused, we are suggesting the following reading schedule of two chapters (about 80 pages) per week:

  • March 1-7: Chapters 1 and 2
  • March 8-14: Chapters 3 and 4
  • March 15-21: Chapters 5 and 6
  • March 22-28: Chapters 7 and 8
  • March 30: Book Talk at Harvard University 

Book Description

D'Anieri explores the dynamics within Ukraine, between Ukraine and Russia, and between Russia and the West, that emerged with the collapse of the Soviet Union and eventually led to war in 2014. Proceeding chronologically, this book shows how Ukraine's separation from Russia in 1991, at the time called a 'civilized divorce', led to what many are now calling 'a new Cold War'. He argues that the conflict has worsened because of three underlying factors - the security dilemma, the impact of democratization on geopolitics, and the incompatible goals of a post-Cold War Europe. Rather than a peaceful situation that was squandered, D'Anieri argues that these were deep-seated pre-existing disagreements that could not be bridged, with concerning implications for the resolution of the Ukraine conflict. The book also shows how this war fits into broader patterns of contemporary international conflict and should therefore appeal to researchers working on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia's relations with the West, and conflict and geopolitics more generally.

  • Will appeal to readers looking at research on conflict that does not focus on assigning blame to one side or another
  • Provides a chronological history of Ukraine-Russia relations since 1991
  • Reshapes our understanding of when and why Ukraine became such an object of contention, showing that the events of 2013–14 were the spark, but the fuel was put in place over many years


‘Who or what is responsible for the war in Ukraine and the new crisis in the East-West relations? Paul D'Anieri is not looking for simple answers to this seemingly simple question. His response is rooted in the examination of the Russo-Ukrainian relations over the past thirty years and points to profound differences in the way Russian and Ukrainian elites understand and pursue their interests in the post-Cold War world. A work of great erudition, this book contributes to more than one field of study and is a must read for anyone who is interested in the origins of the current crisis.' Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History, Harvard University, Massachusetts

‘Uniquely balanced and rigorous in its in-depth consideration of Ukrainian, Russian, and Western sources and perspectives, D'Anieri's Ukraine and Russia should now be the first book one consults when seeking to understand the nature of today's conflict and possible paths forward.' Henry Hale, George Washington University, Washington DC

'Paul D’Anieri’s Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil Conflict, provides one of the first comprehensive accounts of Ukrainian-Russian relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. D’Anieri masterfully weaves theoretical arguments about the nature of relations between states - not only Ukraine and Russia, but also the United States and 'the West' - with his deeply-researched historical narrative of these relations from 1989 to the present. Ambitiously, D’Anieri is not content to pick one theory or assign blame to one country for his account, but rightly moves his analysis between international and domestic factors to provide a comprehensive explanation of this history. Ukraine and Russia is a terrific read, of interest not only to social scientists and historians, but to anyone interested in understanding this tumultuous relationship.' Michael McFaul, author of From Cold War to Hot Peace: A U.S. Ambassador in Putin’s Russia

'Fortunate readers get three books in one: the first major survey to look at the long cycle of conflict between Russia and Ukraine since 1991; a balanced assessment of this dynamic’s place within the general problems of the post-Cold War settlement; and a fascinating debate on realist and liberal attempts to explain the crisis.' Andrew Wilson, University College London and European Council on Foreign Relations

About the Author

Paul D'Anieri is a Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. He is author of Understanding Ukrainian Politics (2007) and Economic Interdependence in Ukrainian-Russian Relations (1999), as well as a widely-used textbook on international politics. D'Anieri is Vice President of the American Association of Ukrainian Studies.

See also: TCUP