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Henry M. Robert

Elite, People, and State

Den’s new publication The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ offers a fresh look at the key events in Ukrainian history
8 August, 2017 - 11:46

Den’s new publication The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ offers a fresh look at the key events in Ukrainian history

No sooner had Den announced it was finishing The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ – a new publication in the “Ukraine Incognita” series – and invited readers to make upfront payment, than the book began to be actively ordered on the newspaper’s website (https://day.kyiv.ua/uk/library/books/korona-abo-spadshchyna-korolivstva-...). In the first few days alone, 88 readers seized the opportunity to prepay for the book. Incidentally, by a good tradition, Den is preparing a gift for the first owner of the book – the autograph of editor-in-chief and compiler Larysa Ivshyna. The book will be sent to Vita Boichuk in Khmelnytskyi.

All who will place an advance order will be able to receive the new book at cost price. So hurry up! Read in Den editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna’s column “Elite, People, and State” why every Ukrainian must read this book.


The announcement of the name and the concept of a new Den’s Library book, which will be presented at this year’s Forum of Publishers in Lviv, has aroused keen interest among readers – about 30 orders were placed in one day only, although people have not yet had an opportunity even to leaf through the new book. Taking into account so quick a reaction of audiences, we decided it was time to tell more in detail about the book The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’. So, what will Den surprise you with this time?

Undoubtedly, the book will be a discovery even for those who are good judges of historical contexts. You should not be afraid of the accusations that history is being “rewritten” again. As a matter of fact, history should be “reconsidered.” History is not a “theorem” which is enough to be proved once. It “lives” in the shape of never-ending reinterpretations. As Professor Natalia Yakovenko aptly noted during a meeting with students at this year’s Den Summer School of Journalism, every new generation puts its questions to history, and we always choose only what we need today from the immense past. The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ offers the ideas Ukrainian society needs today. It is a “lifting jack book” for public opinion, a book that puts history into the position of an active dialog with society.

Ukraine has long had a dominant “grassroots-oriented” historiography that held no place for the nobility, the elite, and, in general, for those who rose above the ordinary masses by force of their deeds, moral and intellectual qualities. In the “grassroots-oriented” historical myth, people of this kind were assigned, at best, the role of antagonists who opposed the oppressed “common people” or the class of the “working people.” It is perhaps for this reason that the problem of political elite turned out to be so acute when the Ukrainians finally managed to restore their independence. Our book offers an entirely new look at the key events of Ukrainian history.

Our history did not begin 25 years ago or even in 1654, which the colonial historiography is trying to persuade us to believe. The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ is aimed at reconsidering the sources and the very nature of Ukrainian statehood. It is our attempt to put an extremely important question: at which stage did Ukraine begin its “chronology”? Maybe, it starts from Prince Sviatoslav who concluded a peace treaty with Byzantine Emperor John Tzimiskes in 971? Or from Yaroslav the Wise, the 1,000th anniversary of whose enthronement we will mark in 2019? Ukraine has its own ancient heritage. The only question is to what extent we are prepared to exercise “ownership rights.”

To create something new in a period of instability, when Ukraine is going through the most important stages of its history, we should turn to our past and see the “pulsating” points in it, which supply us with energy even now. Ukraine is a “transformer country”: Kyivan Rus’, the Kingdom of Rus’, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian and then the Red Empire. But, above all this, there was an indestructible Ukrainian nation which preserved its culture, language, and identity.

Now that we have at last a chance to create a future of our own, it is very important to offer society an as much multicolored as possible “palette” of options. What can be an instructive example to us is the fortitude the constitutional monarchies have shown. Particularly, it is Spain, where monarchy became an “intermediary bridge” that helped “establish the continuity of eras” and, at the same time, make a transition from dictatorship to democracy.

History is a long way from us at first glance only. The book The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ is reference to the past from the positions of today. It is a material for devising a project of the future, an opportunity for every individual to understand that his or her participation in the life of the state is not confined to elections only. Our book addresses the problem of responsibility of the elite and the people in the broadest historical context. Your stereotypes will be shattered! You will feel the freshness and novelty of our common history. The high-class team of our contributors has done colossal work to shed some light on the secrets of history, and we will be glad to share the excavated treasures with our readers.

The Crown, or Heritage of the Kingdom of Rus’ will soon appear on Kyiv bookstore shelves. And, today, you have a chance to place an advance order for a cost-price book on Den’s website.

By Larysa IVSHYNA, Den/The Day’s editor-in-chief
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