This 2006 book documents developments in the countries of eastern Europe, including the rise of authoritarian tendencies in Russia and Belarus, as well as the victory of the democratic 'Orange Revolution' in Ukraine, and poses important questions about the origins of the East Slavic nations and the essential similarities or differences between their cultures. It traces the origins of the modern Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian nations by focusing on pre-modern forms of group identity among the Eastern Slavs. It also challenges attempts to 'nationalize' the Rus' past on behalf of existing national projects, laying the groundwork for understanding of the pre-modern history of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The book covers the period from the Christianization of Kyivan Rus' in the tenth century to the reign of Peter I and his eighteenth-century successors, by which time the idea of nationalism had begun to influence the thinking of East Slavic elites.
"Plokhy offers innovative and convincing reinterpretations of the key controversies in the histories of the national development of the East Slavs....his contribution to the history East Slavic identities is huge. He has, indeed, delivered on his promise to reconceptualize the field. This is must reading for all historians of the East Slavs in the pre-modern period."
- H-Nationalism, David G. Rowley, Department of Social Sciences, University of Wisconsin--Platteville
"[An] ambitious, revisionist, and impressive monograph.... Plokhy's detailed, sustained interpretation sheds new light on such processes as the gradual alienation among the three East Slavic peoples as their historical fates differed, and such events as the mutual misunderstanding characterizing the 1654 Union of Pereiaslav. Plokhy has set the bar very high for future historians, who will be stimulated by this superb book to address the question of East Slavic national identity."
- Canadian Journal of History, Charles J. Halperin
"Plokhy has produced an impressive and often persuasive study"
Daniel H. Kaiser, Slavic Review
"...In each chapter Plokhy orients the reader by providing a summary of the basic historical facts, as well as a brief discussion of the major issues and controversies involved with these topics, before proceeding to his own analysis....The Origins of the Slavic Nations has several strengths: readers are provided with useful summaries of the basic issues, and Plokhy familiarizes the reader with recent literature in the field, both that produced in the West and in the former Soviet Union. Plokhy also does a good job of distinguishing the different meanings certain terms had depending on the time and placed used....The Origins of the Slavic Nations is a valuable treatment of identities in East Slavic territory before the modern era....Plokhy's style is quite engaging and, given his attempts to provide the requisite background information, this book will appeal to more than just a narrow group of specialists. Those scholars who are familiar primarily with the Russocentric narrative will greatly benefit from Plokhy's analysis."
--Andrew M Drozd, University of Alabama, Slavic and East European Journal
"The result of painstaking research, Plokhy's excellent book succeeds in refuting 'primordalist' attempts to nationalize the premodern past. In its place, it reconstructs the lost structures of group identity among the nations we now know as Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians." -Serhy Yekelchyk, Journal of Modern History
"This book will become essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the premodern roots of modern divisions in Eastern Europe." -Brian J. Boeck, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Plokhy's book is not only a masterful synthesis of Russian, Ukranian, and Belarusian national historiography from the medieval chroniclers to the present day...but also represents a major, original contribution to understanding the formation of national identities in the region." -Robert H. Greene, Journal of World History