Summer Reading List: Books That Will Help You Understand The War In Ukraine

Greg Satell
6 min readMay 28, 2022
Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

No matter what’s going on during the year, I always look forward to summer. I love the heat and, despite spending 15 years in frigid Eastern European countries, I hate the cold. Every year I find myself counting the days before I can slap on gobs of sunscreen and while away the hour underneath the sun.

Of course, one of my favorite things to do at the beach or by the pool is to read. There’s something about summer that helps me block out whatever else is going on and focus on the book in front of me. So every year I find myself looking for good books that will make the time and effort worth it.

This year, the world’s attention is focused on a country I know well, but most people are unfamiliar with. To a surprising extent, Ukraine finds itself at a crossroads of world affairs, with conflicts between east and west, populism and globalism, democracy and authoritarianism in the balance, it is a war we must win. This year’s list focuses on understanding why.

The Gates Of Europe by Serhey Plokhii

One of the more difficult things about the crisis, and the Russian invasions that brought, it about is that Ukraine that seems foreign and far away. It has a complicated history, was dominated by one or another power most of the time and shares strong linguistic and cultural heritage with both Russia and Poland. Russia uses these nuances to undermine Ukraine’s nationhood.

This book by Serhey Plokhi, who leads Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute, provides an excellent guide to Ukraine’s history and culture. It’s clear, comprehensive and does vastly more than simply retell events, it help you understand why these people have fought so hard and for so long to forge a national identity.

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The Revenge of Power by Moisés Naím

Roughly a decade ago, Moisés Naím, wrote The End of Power, about how technological and other forces were undermining the traditional roles of large institutions. From the corporate world and organized religion to governments and nonprofits, power had become, “easier to get, but harder to use or keep.”

This book shows how autocrats, corporations and other powerful institutions are…

Greg Satell

Co-Founder: ChangeOS | Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Wharton Lecturer,@HBR Contributor, - Learn more at