The history of the Ukrainian people is largely a record of their exploitation, persecution, enserfment, and struggles for freedom. Here indeed is a people of whom it might well be said that: 'They were tortured, they were stoned, they were sawn asunder; they were set wandering in deserts and mountains, in caves and in dens of the earth.' So it is that leaders arose among them from time to time, fired with dreams of freedom and national independence. Some of the rebellions they led created widespread interest in Western Europe. Thus news of the Cossack and peasant rebellion of 1648 under the leadership of Bogdan Khmelnitsky even reached far-off England, where progress made by the Cossack leader was reported in various news-sheets of the time. It is even said that Khmelnitsky corresponded with Oliver Cromwell, though there is apparently no Ukrainian confirmation of this. British interest in Ukraine was maintained, and in the eighteenth century several English travellers visited Ukraine and recorded their impressions. In October 1818 Byron wrote his poem about the Cossack Hetman, Mazeppa, of whom he had read in Voltaire's Histoire de Charles XII. After that time, however, little was heard of Ukraine in Europe — until recently.
This valuable book offers many insights on homelands and waterways, the people, their religion, language and literature and their history.