Title pretty much self explenatory.

Im a student myself (but not of history), and I am looking for a good book on the period that is not too heavy, but gives good coverage for early east Slavic history, Kievan Rus period etc

Thanks in advance

  • 3
    Welcome to History:SE. Source requests are explicitly off-topic here, so I suspect that your question may be closed. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. – sempaiscuba Jun 9 '20 at 20:06
  • 4
    Such requests are currently off-topic. A modern book on this subject that I happen to like is "The Emergence of Rus 750-1200." by Simon Franklin. – Moishe Kohan Jun 9 '20 at 22:11
  • 1
    To quickly summarize, the problem is that "good" is a subjective word. What I think is a good history may be completely useless to someone else, and actively wrong to a third person. Such questions make it impossible to select an authoritative answer, and generally fall into the category of shopping questions. Many of us would like to see a way to permit reference questions, but it is a problem we haven't solved just yet. – MCW Jun 10 '20 at 13:40
  • @Moishe Kohan: I wonder why "off topic" and especially why "currently". Can you explain? Is this because of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine? – Alex Jun 10 '20 at 14:05
  • 1
    @Alex Perhaps, although if you followed the links on the current meta discussion you'll have seen that requests for canonical sources are an exception to the general rule. – sempaiscuba Jun 10 '20 at 19:25

It depends on the languages you can read. The best book that I know is in Russian:

Alexei Tolochko, Essays on the original Rus,

Толочко А. П. Очерки начальной руси. Киев; Санкт-Петербург, Лаурус, 2015.

And in Ukrainian:

Наталья Николаевна Яковенко, Нарис Історії України. З найдавніших часів до кінця XVIII століття (Essay of the history of Ukraine from the ancient times to XVIII century).

One problem with the history of Kievan Rus, is that this subject is highly politically charged. This "history" was originally created with a political purpose: to confirm the rights of the ruling dynasty. Then in 17-18 centuries, the Moscow state "appropriated" this history, and even the name Rus, and since then, the "history" was used mostly to prove the right of Moscow to rule the territory which used to be Kievan Rus.

This did not change to this day. For this reason I do NOT recommend reading only Russian (Moscow) authors. In the writings of Ukrainian authors the point of view is very different, though some Ukrainian authors may be biased in another direction. (The author that I recommend is least biased on my opinion: he lives and works in Ukraine, but writes in Russian. Not to be confused with his father, P. Tolochko).

Speaking of Western authors, I can recommend

Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A history

whose initial chapters are on Kievan Rus.

When searching for Western authors, I recommend to search on "History of Ukraine", rather than "History of Russia", unless you want to read the Moscow propaganda retold by a Western author.

Another problem is almost complete lack of original sources. The main source is the so-called "Original chronic", which was written centuries after the events it describes, and also under the sponsorship of the ruling dynasty. Foreign sources are extremely scarce.

Having all this in mind, you can certainly read this original chronic, or any modern exposition of it.

Remark: the more correct tag for this question is "history of Ukraine" not "history of Russia". (Kiev is in Ukraine, as we all know). So I added the tag.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.