Kiev: A Portrait, 1800-1917.By Micheal F. Hamm. Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey is located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. Princeton University has been sited in the town since 1756. , Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
Press, 1993. xviii, 304 pp. $29.95 U.S.
Michael F. Hamm is well known to students of late Imperial Russia for his work on its urban history. He has edited two books and written a number of articles on the Russian city. Now he has produced a major monograph on a major city: Kiev. Kiev (or "Kyiv" as it is currently being written) is, or rather was, a Russian city in a limited sense: it was located within the Russian empire, and Russians and Russian politics and culture played important roles in it, but the city has always been multicultural and today, of course, it is the capital of independent Ukraine. With this monograph Hamm makes a substantial addition to the literature on Imperial Russian cities and also to the literature on specifically Ukrainian urban history. The latter field has been developing quite respectably in recent years. Hamm himself has written on Kharkiv, Patricia Herlihy Patricia Herlihy is an American historian and author specializing in Russian and Soviet history. Early life
When Herlihy was six months old her recently divorced mother moved to China, where they lived for five years. has produced a solid study of Ukraine's great Black Sea port (Odessa: A History 1794-1914, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute The Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) is a research institute affiliated with Harvard University devoted to studying the history, culture, language, and politics of Ukraine. Other areas of study include Ukrainian literature, archaeology, , economics, and anthropology. , 1986) and an excellent overview of the whole problematic, with contributions by Herlihy, Steven L. Guthier, Roman Szporluk, and Peter Woroby, was included in Rethinking Ukrainian History (edited by Ivan L. Rudnytsky; Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1981). This new monograph on the Ukrainian capital makes a fine keystone for the growing Sterature on Ukrainian cities.
The dates in the title of Hamm's book are suggestive rather than exact. After an overview of Kiev's earlier history, the book really starts with the second partition of Poland in 1793, which made Kiev the primate city of newly incorporated Right-Bank Ukraine and restored in it a Polish and Jewish presence. The book ends with the revolution of 1905, which in fact is the subject of the last three chapters (the period 1907-17 is treated cursorily in two and a half pages). In between, Hamm sketches the spatial and demographic growth of the city, devotes a chapter each to the Poles, the Ukrainians, and the Jews, and offers a wide-ranging essay on recreation, the arts and popular culture. Hamm makes many substantial points along the way, covers the essential municipal topics (sewage, postal services, vice, city government) and regales the reader with piquant details (for example, "In the 1750s monks from the Cave, Monastery ran fourteen taverns in Pechersk, one on each street"; p. 15). Hamm takes a healthily comparative approach: he consistently places the situation in Kiev in perspective by reference to what was happening in other Ukrainian, Russian, and European cities.
Although the monograph makes some use of archival sources, it is primarily based on contemporary newspapers and memoirs. These influence the style of the book, which is pleasantly chatty chat·ty
adj. chat·ti·er, chat·ti·est
1. Inclined to chat; friendly and talkative.
2. Full of or in the style of light informal talk: a chatty letter. , making for a good read. (The only jarring aspect of the style is a tendency to repeat good anecdotes or witty quotations.) Hamm has called his book a "portrait," and I think this is a good call. One obtains a clear and true picture of the city in the long nineteenth century. However, readers should be aware that this is a pointillist poin·til·lism
A postimpressionist school of painting exemplified by Georges Seurat and his followers in late 19th-century France, characterized by the application of paint in small dots and brush strokes. portrait. Although, when seen as a whole and from the correct distance, the image is an accurate and suggestive representation, not all the details hold up under close inspection. There are quite a few minor errors, too many and too petty to deal with in a review, errors on the order of the wrong date for the formation of the first Ukrainian political party (1890, not 1895 as stated on p. 107) or inexact in·ex·act
1. Not strictly accurate or precise; not exact: an inexact quotation; an inexact description of what had taken place.
2. renderings (Ss. Kuzma and Demian on p. 141 are actually Cosmas and Damian; Maccabeus on the previous page is actually the Macchabees). These specks should not, however, obscure Hamm's considerable achievement in producing a well researched, informative monograph. This is a work that anyone interested in eastern Europe and in cities can read with profit, and it is an indispensable text for historians of modern Ukraine.
The book is outfitted with a detailed index and copious illustrations. Princeton University Press did a very fine job in producing the book, setting it in Sabon typeface and gracing it with an attractive jacket.