Sean PattersonDec 10, 2022
Makhno and Memory
Anarchist and Mennonite Narratives of Ukraine's Civil War, 1917-1921
University of Manitoba Press 2020
In the chaos of the end of WWI, the Russian Civil War, and a brief period of Ukrainian independence there occurred a series of massacres of German Mennonites. Sean Patterson's recent book Makhno and Memory: Anarchist and Mennonite Narratives of Ukraine's Civil War, 1917-1921 (University of Manitoba Press, 2020) analyzes the varying historical memories of these massacres. Patterson's book raises numerous and timely issues of national memory and identity, and contains much poignant reflection on the problems faced by an historically pacifist community facing down violent circumstances. What it means to be a member of a national community is an interesting and important question in any circumstances, but the construction of Ukrainian national identity is a subject of more-than-casual interest, in 2022. Makhno and Memory discusses a complicated and important series of event in accessible fashion, and usefully circumscribes what can and cannot be known about Nestor Makhno's specific role in those events.
Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.