Ukrainian journalist Mendel, former press secretary for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, illuminates the complexity of Ukraine and its long struggle for independence by telling the story of her village childhood, during which she spoke Ukrainian; her studious youth in Kherson, where she learned Russian and English; her earning of academic awards and a PhD, and varied international professional experiences. Her invaluable perspective enables her to deftly analyze the lies Russia deployed about Ukrainian 'Nazis' as it launched its atrocious 2022 invasion. She also recounts Zelenskyy’s remarkable life ... Vivid and clarifying, Mendel’s chronicle profoundly deepens our understanding of Ukraine and the current crisis and why it matters worldwide.
Readers will find a generally admiring but not entirely uncritical depiction of Zelenskyy ... Readers will also find a cleareyed look at both the reasons for Russia’s intransigence and the countervailing force of Ukrainian resistance ... A nuanced portrait of a leader in a time of crisis who has definitely risen to the occasion.
... brisk and flattering ... Mendel also offers a stout defense of Zelenskyy’s 2019 decision to open peace talks with the Kremlin to end the war in the Donbas, and shares tragic details of the current conflict. Though the portrait that emerges of Zelenskyy feels more adulatory than authentic, this is a spirited account of history in the making.