In a fascinating “urban biography,” Michael Hamm tells the story of one of Europe’s most diverse cities and its distinctive mix of Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, and Jewish inhabitants. A splendid urban center in medieval times, Kiev became a major metropolis in late Imperial Russia, and is now the capital of independent Ukraine. After a concise account of Kiev’s early history, Hamm focuses on the city’s dramatic growth in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The first historian to analyze how each of Kiev’s ethnic groups contributed to the vitality of the city’s culture, he also examines the violent conflicts that developed among them. In vivid detail, he shows why Kiev came to be known for its “abundance of revolutionaries” and its anti-Semitic violence.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the Antonovych Prize for an Exceptional Work on the History of the Ukraine, Omelan and Tatiana Antonovych Foundation
Michael F. Hamm, Professor of History at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, is the editor and part-author of two earlier books on the Russian and Soviet city and has written articles on the history of Kiev, Kharkiv, and Riga. He has traveled to Kiev on five occasions. The recipient of Fulbright-Hays and International Research and Exchanges Board grants, he has spent more than thirteen months working in the archives and libraries of the former Soviet Union.
"This carefully detailed account reveals another side of the city's history.... [It] helps to put present events in context, showing that at least one of the 'new' nationalisms in the former Soviet Union has old and very deep roots."—Anne Applebaum, The Times
"Compelling reading.... Hamm's study of Kiev is a finely honed work. It conveys ... a sense of place, a feel for a city undergoing rapid, often profoundly unsettling change."—James H. Bater, Russian Review
"A unique and vivid picture of the evolution of one of the principle cities of Eastern Europe. The importance of careful study of the ethnic dimensions to Ukrainian (and Kievan) history is obvious. Hamm's work makes a thoughtful, scholarly, and balanced contribution to this project. No comparable histories of Kiev exist. In a larger perspective, this book is the best of the few urban biographies on imperial Russian cities."—Daniel Brower, University of California, Davis