Ukrainian nationalism made worldwide news after the Euromaidan revolution and the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war in 2014. Invoked by regional actors and international commentators, the “integral” Ukrainian nationalism of the 1930s has moved to the center of debates about Eastern Europe, but the history of this divisive ideology remains poorly understood.
This timely book by Trevor Erlacher is the first English-language biography of the doctrine’s founder, Dmytro Dontsov (1883–1973), the “spiritual father” of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Organizing his research of the period around Dontsov’s life, Erlacher has written a global intellectual history of Ukrainian integral nationalism from late imperial Russia to postwar North America, with relevance for every student of the history of modern Europe and the diaspora.
Thanks to the circumstances of Dontsov’s itinerant, ninety-year life, this microhistorical approach allows for a geographically, chronologically, and thematically broad yet personal view on the topic. Dontsov shaped and embodied Ukrainian politics and culture as a journalist, diplomat, literary critic, publicist, and ideologue, progressing from heterodox Marxism, to avant-garde fascism, to theocratic traditionalism.
Drawing upon archival research in Ukraine, Poland, and Canada, this book contextualizes Dontsov’s works, activities, and identity formation diachronically, reconstructing the cultural, political, urban, and intellectual milieus within which he developed and disseminated his worldview.
In addition to providing a thoroughly-researched story of Dontsov’s ideas and their evolution, Erlacher puts them into their proper historical context, providing an excellent overview of Ukrainian history in the early twentieth century. The picture of Dontsov that emerges is complex and controversial…[An] impressive work…A very useful tool for those that would like to understand the origins of the ideas that fueled Ukrainian nationalists and to do so in a way that is free from both Soviet propaganda and the patriotic fervor of some of the more recent Ukrainian historians.
A nuanced, balanced, and much needed transnational intellectual history…Dontsov, his life, work, and thought have been presented in all their messy complexity. Those interested in Ukrainian integral nationalism will profit from reading this enlightening book.
Erlacher has written the first definitive English language biography of Dmytro Dontsov, a scholarly tour de force…His study will provide an important addition to the relatively small number of academic studies of Ukrainian nationalism that are available in the English language.
Engaging…A welcome contribution to European intellectual history as well as Russian, East European, and Ukrainian history.
Perhaps the most influential Ukrainian thinker of the twentieth century, Dmytro Dontsov underwent an ideological evolution that highlighted the trends common for much of East Central Europe. An unorthodox Marxist early on, he became the principal ideologue of interwar radical nationalism, then turned religious and conservative as an émigré in North America. It is impossible to understand Ukrainian nationalism without Dontsov, even if his flirtations with fascism represented a dead-end that was the opposite of the civic version of national identity embraced by post-Soviet, independent Ukraine. A tour-de-force of intellectual history, Trevor Erlacher’s book is a must for any person interested in Ukraine and its diaspora, as well as in the radical right of interwar Europe.
Ukrainian Nationalism in the Age of Extremes makes an important contribution to the study of the history of Ukrainian integral nationalism. Basing his study on the intellectual biography of the movements of main ideologue, Dmytro Dontsov, Trevor Erlacher explores the history of integral nationalism from its roots in the late Russian Empire all the way to the Cold War, examining it in various regional, cultural, and intellectual contexts. Erlacher shows how Dontsov’s views were shaped by widely varied experience: by living on political and cultural frontiers (first, in the Russian-Ukrainian state and later in the Ukrainian-Polish state), by his cosmopolitan interests and goals, and by his life journey, which took him to a number of different countries. This is, to date, the most successful endeavor to write a complete intellectual biography of perhaps the most controversial of Ukrainian political thinkers. The book is a must-read for students of nationalism in general and Eastern Europe and Ukraine in particular, and it will certainly find its way to a broad audience.
The son of a merchant in small-town, Russified Ukraine, Dmytro Dontsov experienced World War I and the Ukrainian struggle for independence and soon became the chief Ukrainian publicist propagating fanatical violence, hatred of Russians and Jews, and an alliance with Nazi Germany despite its anti-Ukrainian policies. Traveling widely and imitating foreign ideas and institutions, Dontsov was not only xenophobic but also cosmopolitan. His authoritarianism was accompanied by an iconoclastic dismissal of Ukrainian traditions and most of his fellow Ukrainians, including nationalist devotees. This book by Trevor Erlacher shows and explains in meticulous, spell-binding detail how this highly polarizing figure became the spiritual father of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
- 662 pages
- 6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
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