"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Lost Kingdom of Russian Nationalism

A new book from Serhii Plokhii always commands attention, and rightly so. Author of various and well-received studies on the history of Ukraine, of Cossack history, of the Yalta conference of 1945, and many other works, he has a new book forthcoming this fall which could not be more timely: Lost Kingdom: A History of Russian Nationalism from Ivan the Great to Vladimir Putin. That is the title given the book by its European publisher, while, most curiously, the North American version is to be titled Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation (Basic Books, October 2017), 416pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. While the world watched in outrage, this blatant violation of national sovereignty was only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to expand Russian boundaries and create a pan-Russian nation.
In Lost Kingdom, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues that we can only understand the confluence of Russian imperialism and nationalism today by delving into the nation's history. Spanning over 500 years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin exploited existing forms of identity, warfare, and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy.
An authoritative and masterful account of Russian nationalism, Lost Kingdom chronicles the story behind Russia's belligerent empire-building quest.
I was gratified to learn just this week of the forthcoming advent of this book for the topic of Russian nationalism has been much on my mind. I was in Italy last week, in the wonderful Alpine town of San Felice del Benaco, half-way between Brescia and Verona, attending the congress of the Russian Greek Catholic Church, where I was keynote lecturer. Organized by the splendid Fr. Lawrence Cross of Australia, it was an important gathering whose resolutions you may read here.

Russian nationalism came up insofar as it plays a role in Rome-Moscow relations over the vexed question of Eastern Catholics ("uniates") in both Russia and Ukraine. But much more than that was discussed at the congress, and in the coming days I shall have more to say about it at Catholic World Report. 

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