Read Smart Podcast: Ukraine: Lessons from History


On 24th February, Russia invaded Ukraine. In the weeks since, we’ve heard horrifying tales of human rights abuses and families forced to flee their homes. Nevertheless, Ukrainian forces have managed to resist the Russian military for now, whilst Western nations have expressed their support, sending relief to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

On this month’s episode of Read Smart is Sir Antony Beevor, a multi-award winning historian of war whose book Stalingrad, which recounted the battle between Russian and German forces in Eastern Europe in the Second World War, won the very first Samuel Johnson Prize – the precursor to the Baillie Gifford Prize. His new book, publishing this coming May, is Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921.

Antony is joined by Serhii Plokhii, the professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University, who won the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy.

Joining Antony and Serhii, is Polly Jones, the professor of Russian at The University of Oxford, who recently wrote an introduction to Ukrainian author Vassily Grossman’s epic novel Life and Fate.

This episode is hosted by author and critic Shahidha Bari and generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Listen now as these three hugely distinguished guests discuss the conflict in Ukraine, the extent to which Putin’s current actions are based on historical motivation, and how far the conflict marks a historical turning point.

The Disasters Emergency Committee and British Red Cross are taking donations for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal online.  If you’d like to support this, please visit

Listen here on Spotify.

To find out more about the Baillie Gifford Prize visit, or follow us on socials @BGPrize.

Read Smart Podcast is commissioned by The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and is generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

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