I’m currently reading 85 days in Slavyansk, a first-hand account of the siege of Slavyansk in 2014, written by Alexander Zhuchkovsky and recently translated into English by Peter Nimitz.

The book tells the story of how war broke out in Eastern Ukraine from the perspective of the rebels. It’s full of rich historical details and interviews from participants in the Donbass uprising. Most news reporting today is uninterested in the movement which resulted in the breakway people’s republics, and the whole backdrop to the current war. Today the entire 2014-22 period has vanished from history in a compressed narrative which jumped straight from Euromaidan to Zelensky hiding in a bunker in Kiev.

So, 85 days in Slavyansk is important because it recounts a little-known history of the very beginning of the uprising. Zhuchkovsky tells the story with all contradictions intact, and with all the caveats of relying on personal testimony for historical truth. It covers a fairly specific series of events, but well worth reading for anyone interested in the origins of the war.

The typesetting of the book is surprisingly bad.


It’s printed on-demand through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing programme, and what you get is all the downsides of an e-book in printed form, there’s no regard for pagination or the constraints of physical paper. I don’t know why the KDP experience is so terrible for printed books, it seems like a well structured document would be pretty easy to run through any typesetting system for an acceptable result.