UNWLA Members-at-Large are a diverse group of women who live all across the U.S. What unites them, though, besides belonging to the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, is the love for good books. They generously share their book recommendations!

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The memoirs of Maria Labunka with the codename “Iryna” is the story of the upbringing and struggle of a Ukrainian nationalist. Childhood, education, and participation in the activities of the liberation movement in Zakerzonnia during the Second World War are described in detail. The situation of women in the circumstances of the armed struggle still remains incompletely covered – and this is the main reason that prompted the author to take up her memoirs in her old age. It turned out to be not only an important document-evidence for contemporaries and descendants but also a fascinating story about a difficult and bright period of our history.

Спогади Марії Лабуньки на псевдо “Ірина”, у дівоцтві Ровенчук, – це історія виховання і боротьби української націоналістки. Дитинство, навчання, участь у діяльності визвольного руху на Закерзонні під час Другої світової війни описані проникливо й детально. Становище жінки у обставинах збройної боротьби досі залишається неповно висвітленим – і це головна причина, яка спонукала авторку на схилі літ все ж таки взятися за мемуари. Написане виявилося не лише важливим документом-свідченням для сучасників і нащадків, але й захопливою оповіддю про складний і яскравий період нашої історії.

scratches on a prison wall | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America
“In this gripping memoir of a young Ukrainian woman’s encounter with Communism and Nazism, Luba Komar experiences imprisonment, torture, death row, violence, escape, resistance, and, finally, flight to the West. Throughout, Luba retains her dignity and manifests a quiet heroism-convincingly demonstrating that totalitarianism is ultimately powerless in the face of individuals with the spiritual courage to speak the truth.”

– Alexander J. Motyl, Rutgers University-Newark, Author of Who Killed Andrei Warhol

Ukraine is suffering under Soviet domination in 1940 as World War II begins. Luba Komar, a politically active student at a Ukrainian university, finds herself whisked away in the middle of the night by the Soviet Secret Police. She is tortured, imprisoned and then sentenced to death in a secret Soviet trial.

Fortunately, her death sentence is commuted to exile. With other prisoners, she’s loaded onto a train headed to the dreaded Siberian concentration camps.

Luckily, Luba never reaches Siberia. As Nazi bombers approach overhead, the Soviets divert the train to another prison. There, the inmates courageously stage a prison break, risking their lives.

Luba is witness to the dramatic events that shaped Ukrainian and Soviet history both during and after WWII. In recording her ordeal, she brings to life the stories of her fellow prisoners, and recounts her eventual escape to the West. Scratches on a Prison Wall is a powerful testament to its author and the times in which she lived.

knyga war ru rudenko yury max | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America

WAR.ru is a documentary research of the first year of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Day by day, from the beginning of the annexation of Crimea (February 2014) to the final battle of Debaltseve (February 2015).

The events are depicted in chronological order. The information is specifically presented in the most concise form and in a language accessible to the average reader. All terms and postulates necessary for understanding the processes are also explained in “simple words”.

To understand the causes and preconditions of the war, the minimum necessary historical information and examples are provided. All information is widely available in open sources. It can be easily checked and get an in-depth understanding of the course of a particular episode. To improve the understanding of the essence of the events of the war and to create a certain “presence effect” – the book is accompanied by links to real video from the scene of the events, as well as the minimum necessary maps and diagrams.

WAR.ru – це документальне дослідження першого року російсько-української війни. День за днем, від початку анексії Криму (лютий 2014) до фіналу Дебальцевської битви (лютий 2015).

Події зображені в хронологічному порядку. Інформацію спеціально подано в максимально стислій формі, та мовою, доступною для пересічного читача. Всі необхідні для розуміння процесів терміни та постулати – також розтлумачено «простими словами».

Для розуміння причин і передумов війни, надано мінімально необхідні історичні відомості та приклади. Вся інформація є широкодоступною у відкритих джерелах. ЇЇ можна легко перевірити і отримати поглиблене розуміння перебігу того чи іншого окремого епізоду. Для покращення розуміння суті подій війни, та створення певного «ефекту присутності» – книга супроводжується посиланнями на реальне відео з місця подій, а також мінімально потрібними картами та схемами.

В книзі зображено взаємний вплив інформаційної складової бойових дій на реальний стан речей і навпаки. Зображені принципи роботи пропаганди, та методи їх використання на прикладі роботи російських ЗМІ.

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Spanning sixty tumultuous years of Ukrainian history, this multigenerational saga weaves a dramatic and intricate web of love, sex, friendship, and death. At its center: three women linked by the abandoned secrets of the past—secrets that refuse to remain hidden.
While researching a story, journalist Daryna unearths a worn photograph of Olena Dovgan, a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed in 1947 by Stalin’s secret police. Intrigued, Daryna sets out to make a documentary about the extraordinary woman—and unwittingly opens a door to the past that will change the course of the future. Even as she delves into the secrets of Olena’s life, Daryna grapples with the suspicious death of a painter who may just be the latest victim of a corrupt political power play.

From the dim days of World War II to the eve of Orange Revolution, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets is an “epic of enlightening force” that explores the enduring power of the dead over the living.
9916169 | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America

the rose code quinn | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2021)

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of East-End London poverty, works the legendary code-breaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter—the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger—and their true enemy—closer…

front cover | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America

This memoir by a prominent Ukrainian dissident, now in English translation, offers a unique account that spans the entire postwar period, from the author’s childhood in newly-Soviet western Ukraine and coming of age within the Communist system to the collapse of the Soviet Union, concluding with his reflections on culpability and justice in the post-Soviet context. Marynovych’s description of the varied landscape of Ukrainian dissent in the 1960s and 1970s focuses on the emerging human rights movement, especially the creation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, of which he was a founding member. He vividly recounts his encounters with the Soviet repressive apparatus, including his arrest and trial, and offers a rich picture of daily life in a Siberian prison camp and his internal exile in Kazakhstan.

Imbued with the author’s deep Christian convictions, this memoir sheds light on the key role faith played for some participants in the Soviet human rights movement, a movement that has most often been seen as having a secular inflection. It also provides a fresh look at the complex place of Ukrainian dissidents within the broader Soviet human rights movement, as well as the interplay between human rights advocates and other dissident groups in Soviet Ukraine.

Myroslav Marynovych is a Ukrainian social and political activist and commentator. He is Vice-Rector for University Mission at Ukrainian Catholic University.

“Overlooked by mainstream scholarship for far too long, Mendel Osherowitch’s book, How People Live in Soviet Russia, is one of the most penetrating and moving accounts of daily life in Soviet Ukraine during the Holodomor. Returning as a visitor after having lived in the USA for many decades, Osherowitch expected to witness his cherished socialist ideals being put into practice. Instead he encountered widespread degradation and the fear infusing the everyday existence of Jews and Gentiles alike. Recording his observations with an uncommon level of understanding and insight, Osherowitch produced a book that sheds a new and unexpected light on the history of the Great Famine of 1932-1933. A must-read.”

– Professor Serhii Plokhy, Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

“Mendel Osherowitch’s account of his visit to Soviet Ukraine in the early winter of 1932 should not be missed by anyone trying to understand the terrible fate of Ukraine at a critical juncture in its history. His mastery of Ukrainian, Yiddish, and Russian, coupled with a winning personality and unobtrusive style of questioning, made it possible for him to talk with a wide spectrum of Ukrainians, Russians and Jews – in the factories and towns, during long train rides, and in casual encounters. He heard Party bosses and newspaper editors defend the horrific conditions people were living under, insisting it was all worthwhile because of the glorious socialist future as yet to come. Meanwhile, the workers and peasants were left baffled and battered by the emptiness of these Soviet promises.

Investigating the regime’s ostensible accomplishments, Osherowitch provides heartrending descriptions of broken and starving men, women, and children, Jews and non-Jews alike, all desperate for a piece of bread, all hoping for succour from a sympathetic foreign visitor. His testimony reveals a deeply disturbing picture of the utter destitution of rural and city life just as the Ukrainian nation began suffering the death throes of extinction from an orchestrated famine.”

– Professor Norman M. Naimark, Department of HIstory, Stanford University

Edited by Lubomyr Y. Luciuk, translated by Sharon Power.

The New Odyssey The Story of Europes Refugee Crisis Patrick Kingsley | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America
Europe is facing a wave of migration unmatched since the end of World War II – and no one has reported on this crisis in more depth or breadth than The Guardian‘s migration correspondent, Patrick Kingsley. Throughout 2015, Kingsley traveled to 17 countries along the migrant trail, meeting hundreds of refugees making epic odysseys across deserts, seas and mountains to reach the holy grail of Europe. This is Kingsley’s unparalleled account of who these voyagers are. It’s about why they keep coming, and how they do it. It’s about the smugglers who help them on their way, and the coastguards who rescue them at the other end. The volunteers that feed them, the hoteliers that house them, and the border guards trying to keep them out. And the politicians looking the other way. The New Odyssey is a work of original, bold reporting written with a perfect mix of compassion and authority by the journalist who knows the subject better than any other.

З Goodreads:

Ця книга про любов. У ній немає жодного слова на “лю…”, але вона про любов. Про магію, не лубочну, розтиражовану з екранів телевізора, а справжню, від роду і кореня, коли пірнаєш з головою у Прадавній Океан і виринаєш звідти з рибиною в зубах. І ще про відвагу. Про безумовну відвагу знайти своє, впізнати його, впертися руками і ногами і нікому не віддати. Свій дім, свою батьківщину, своє серце, своє право ходити з високо піднятою головою

Події роману розгортаються навесні-влітку чотирнадцятого року у Донецьку. Донбас – це точка обнуління, місце сили, де прозвучали найважливіші запитання. І тільки там заховані потрібні відповіді. Та де все починалося, там все і завершиться, коли історія пройде чергове коло, і вічний змій Уроборос знову вкусить себе за хвіст. Саме тут героїня втратила родину, дім, роботу, ілюзії – і саме тут зібрала уламки життя заново, віднайшла новий смисл і нову опору.

Крок за кроком читач спостерігає процес трансформації, переродження гречкосія у воїна. Ця книга назавжди змінила того, хто її написав, і змінить кожного, хто її прочитає. Бо війна – це коли ти їси землю. І що важливіше, коли годуєш землею.
доця | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America

Tamara Hundorova

Translated by Sergiy Yakovenko
Copublished with Academic Studies Press (Boston)
Honorable mention of the Book Prize of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies 2018–2019

Having exploded on the margins of Europe, Chornobyl marked the end of the Soviet Union and tied the era of postmodernism in Western Europe with nuclear consciousness. The Post-Chornobyl Library in Tamara Hundorova’s book becomes a metaphor of a new Ukrainian literature of the 1990s, which emerges out of the Chornobyl nuclear trauma of the 26th of April, 1986. Ukrainian postmodernism turns into a writing of trauma and reflects the collisions of the post-Soviet time as well as the processes of decolonization of the national culture. A carnivalization of the apocalypse is the main paradigm of the post-Chornobyl text, which appeals to “homelessness” and the repetition of “the end of histories.” Ironic language game, polymorphism of characters, taboo breaking, and filling in the gaps of national culture testify to the fact that the Ukrainians were liberating themselves from the totalitarian past and entering the society of the spectacle. Along this way, the post-Chornobyl character turns into an ironist, meets with the Other, experiences a split of his or her self, and witnesses a shift of geo-cultural landscapes.

the post chornobyl library | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America

ukrainky kis | UNWLA - Ukrainian National Womens League of America