Wider Europe – Summer Reading

ECFR's Wider Europe team recommend eight books for you to delve into this summer.

Puzzled by Putin? Uncertain about Ukraine? Troubled by Turkey? ECFR's Wider Europe team recommend eight books that you can put in your suitcase to get a handle on this vitally important region.


Ukraine Crisis What It Means for the West

Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West

by Andrew Wilson (2014)

ECFR’s very own Andrew Wilson made several trips to Kyiv and, having personally witnessed the Maidan, wrote one of the first books on the uprising. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the background and history of Russia’s expansionist ambitions over the previous decades.

Ukraine Diaries

Ukraine diaries: Dispatches from Kiev

by Andrey Kurkov (2014)

An occasional guest author for ECFR, Kurkov lives just five hundred yards from the Maidan. His diaries describe the violent clashes, the impeachment of Yanukovcyh, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the separatist uprisings in the east of Ukraine, giving a vivid insight into what it’s like to live through revolutionary times.

Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha

Putin's Kleptocracy. Who owns Russia?

by Karen Dawisha(2014)

The story of Putin’s rise to power, the money laundering and corrupt nature of his regime, and its links to organised crime – all deemed way too libelous for the original publisher to handle. Should be read for that reason alone.

The Putin Mystique

by Anna Arutunyan (2014)

Another occasional ECFR guest author and blogger, Arutunyan mixes anthropology, sociology, and reportage of the major Putin news stories of the last decade in presenting an inside view of Russia as a neo-feudal country with a medieval power structure. The result – every ruler of Russia plays the role of a tsar, whether or not he is crowned.


Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia

by Peter Pomerantsev (2015)

Essential reading to understand the Russian media’s increasingly strident nationalism and propaganda chorus about western plots to undermine it and its impact on mass domestic support for Putin.

There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond

by Meline Tourmani (2014)

A young Armenian-American goes to Turkey in a “love thine enemy” experiment that becomes a transformative reflection on how we use – and abuse – our personal histories. Particularly poignant in the centenary year of the Armenian genocide amid growing consciousness in Turkish society of its multi-ethnic past.

Sugar Kremlin

by Vladimir Sorokin (2008, available in German)

A back-to-the-future caricature of life in Russia in 2028 with 15 stories, scenes, and miniatures and a recurring item from the title: an exact copy of the snow-white Kremlin made entirely out of sugar. The author has said that he’s “tried to distill the taste of Russian power. It’s the taste that you get when you mix vodka, snow and blood – with six teaspoons of sugar added.”

Russia and the New World Disorder

by Bobo Lo (2015)

An examination of the interplay between Russian foreign policy and an increasingly anarchic international environment with Moscow’s approach to regional and global affairs reflecting the tension between two very different worlds—the real and the imagined.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.


ECFR Alumni · Programme Coordinator, Wider Europe

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

We will store your email address and gather analytics on how you interact with our mailings. You can unsubscribe or opt-out at any time. Find out more in our privacy notice.