It’s tempting to describe this book as an exceptionally ambitious tourist guide, full of detailed and elaborate descriptions of Kiev’s sights, sounds, and entertainments. But that would grossly misrepresent what is, in fact, a staggeringly detailed portrait of the city at the heart of Ukraine’s tortured existence. It is not a history of Kiev but rather a walking tour of its sociology. Cybriwsky, a geographer, digs deeply into the city’s secrets and mechanics, exploring its physical features, voices, and “seamy stories.” Some of his knowledge comes from his extensive study of historical and political literature relating to Kiev. But mostly, he draws on insights gained simply by walking and experiencing the city, talking to its people, and watching its daily dramas. The result is as thorough a portrait as one could wish for of this beautiful, tumultuous place.
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