The Cossack Myth

The Cossack Myth : History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires

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In the years following the Napoleonic Wars, a mysterious manuscript began to circulate among the dissatisfied noble elite of the Russian Empire. Entitled The History of the Rus', it became one of the most influential historical texts of the modern era. Attributed to an eighteenth-century Orthodox archbishop, it described the heroic struggles of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Alexander Pushkin read the book as a manifestation of Russian national spirit, but Taras Shevchenko interpreted it as a quest for Ukrainian national liberation, and it would inspire thousands of Ukrainians to fight for the freedom of their homeland. Serhii Plokhy tells the fascinating story of the text's discovery and dissemination, unravelling the mystery of its authorship and tracing its subsequent impact on Russian and Ukrainian historical and literary imagination. In so doing he brilliantly illuminates the relationship between history, myth, empire and nationhood from Napoleonic times to the fall of the Soviet Union.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 13 b/w illus. 4 maps
  • 1139534416
  • 9781139534413

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. The Mystery: 1. A call for freedom; 2. The Cossack annals; 3. The birth of the myth; Part II. On a Cold Trail: 4. A noble heart; 5. The Cossack prince; 6. The Kyiv manuscript; Part III. Pieces of a Puzzle: 7. A matter of time; 8. Uncovering the motive; 9. How did he do it?; 10. The Cossack treasure; Part IV. Unusual Suspects: 11. People and places; 12. The Cossack aristocrats; 13. The liberated gentry; 14. A history teacher; Part V. A Family Circle: 15. A missing name; 16. Family matters; 17. The rivals; Epilogue; Appendix: Cossack family networks.
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About Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. His previous publications include Ukraine and Russia: Representations of the Past (2008) and The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (2006).
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Review quote

'This book succeeds admirably on many levels. It is a fresh and subtle reflection on nations and nationalism, a scrupulously detailed piece of archival investigation, and - not least - a beautifully paced academic 'whodunit?'. Significant scholarship is rarely so engaging.' Simon Franklin, University of Cambridge '... delightful ... [The] Cossack Myth is a rich and erudite monograph disguised as a detective story. Serhii Plokhy simultaneously crafts a social history of early-nineteenth-century Cossack noble clans, a history of modern Ukrainian history writing, and a demonstration of how national discourses and identities are born in and shaped by empire, even to the present day.' Nancy S. Kollmann, William H. Bonsall Professor in History, Stanford University 'With its impressive source base, deep analysis, and thoughtful integration into comparative studies of empire, this book offers valuable insights for historians of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, as well as scholars interested in Ukrainian history and culture, eastern European historiography and comparative studies of empire.' Rebecca Mitchell, Canadian Journal of History 'Serhii Plohky has written one of the most important and captivating monographs on modern Ukrainian history and the Ukrainian-Russian relationship to come out in recent years. For the general reader, the tome is cast as a fascinating search for clues that begins with numerous theories on the authorship, time of composition and purpose of the 'History' before Plohky elegantly lays out his own theories by taking the reader through the steps by which he came to his views.' Frank Sysyn, The Russian Review
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20 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 55% (11)
4 40% (8)
3 5% (1)
2 0% (0)
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