Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith

In This Review

Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith

By Andrew Wilson
Cambridge University Press, 1997
300 pp. $59.95
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"Modern Ukraine is a deeply divided society with a pronounced pattern of regional diversity." This is Wilson's opening sentence, and from there he spells out its significance in great detail. Because of historical reasons as well as ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences, he argues, an ethnically based nationalism has little chance of capturing the hearts and minds of the bulk of the population. In its absence, many of the forces at work in modern Ukraine are more likely to produce a "sharp polarization." Wilson sustains this general argument with a remarkably succinct but persuasive distillation of the relevant history back to tenth-century Kievan Rus and a detailed survey of virtually every group, cluster, party, and institution (including the Communist Party) that has contributed something to the phenomenon of Ukrainian nationalism. He is far from predicting doom for Ukraine, but skillfully shows how large looms the challenge facing the country -- of building not only a new state but a nation to underpin it.