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The Cossack Myth
History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires

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Part of New Studies in European History

  • Date Published: September 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107022102

$ 100.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • A fascinating study of the role of history in the creation of national mythologies
    • Solves the mystery behind one of the most controversial East European literary mystifications
    • A major contribution to the history of the Cossacks and to Russian and Ukrainian history more generally
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2013 Historia Nova Prize for the Best Book on Russian Intellectual History, Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation and the Academic Studies Press

    Reviews & endorsements

    "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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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107022102
    • length: 408 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.71kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus. 4 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    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
    Appendix: Cossack family networks.

  • Author

    Serhii Plokhy, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    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).


    • Winner of the 2013 Historia Nova Prize for the Best Book on Russian Intellectual History, Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation and the Academic Studies Press

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