Jonathan Steele writes:
Wilson devotes the first half of his book to an analysis of Belarusian history since the Middle Ages, charting its course along the winding road to nationhood, taking in a series of false starts in the hinterland between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Poland and tsarist Russia. When nationalism arose elsewhere in the region in the 19th century, Belarus was untouched. Seventy years of Communist rule produced a Soviet consciousness – any nationalist tendencies were suppressed. Only with independence in 1991 did things change, and Wilson argues plausibly that Lukashenko, though the ‘last dictator’, is Belarus’s first successful nation-builder.