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Harriman Institute

The book "The Zelensky Effect" by Olga Onuch and Henry E. Hale against a yellow backdrop.



Book Talk. The Zelensky Effect
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Location Note

1219 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th St, 12th Floor

This is a hybrid (in-person/virtual) event. Registration required for attendance. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community. To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events. Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. All other attendees may participate virtually on Zoom or YouTube.

Please join the Harriman Institute for a book talk with Olga Onuch and Henry Hale, authors of The Zelensky Effect. Moderated by Elise Giuliano.

With Russian shells raining on Kyiv and tanks closing in, American forces prepared to evacuate Ukraine’s leader. Just three years earlier, his apparent main qualification had been playing a president on TV. But Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly retorted, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Ukrainian forces won the battle for Kyiv, ensuring their country’s independence even as a longer war began for the southeast. You cannot understand the historic events of 2022 without understanding Zelensky. But the Zelensky effect is less about the man himself than about the civic nation he embodies: what makes Zelensky most extraordinary in war is his very ordinariness as a Ukrainian.

The Zelensky Effect explains this paradox, exploring Ukraine’s national history to show how its now-iconic president reflects the hopes and frustrations of the country’s first “independence generation.” Interweaving social and political background with compelling episodes from Zelensky’s life and career, this is the story of Ukraine told through the journey of one man who has come to symbolize his country.

Dr. Olga Onuch (DPhil, Oxford), is a Senior Lecturer in Politics [Associate Professor, Доцент] at the University of Manchester. In 2021 she was visiting CERES at the University of Toronto as a Senior Research Associate. From 2014 to 2020 she was an Associate Member of Nuffield College (Oxford). Since 2017 she has been an Affiliate of, and previously in 2014 a Fellow of, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. In 2017 she was a Visiting Fellow at the Davis Center (Harvard). She is the winner of the 2017 Political Studies Association National Sir Bernard Crick Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Henry E. Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University. His research has won two prizes from the American Political Science Association, and his most recent book is The Zelensky Effect (Hurst/Oxford University Press 2022), coauthored with Olga Onuch. Hale’s single-authored books include Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2015), The Foundations of Ethnic Politics(Cambridge, 2008), and Why Not Parties in Russia (Cambridge, 2006). He is currently Principal Investigator of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia), director of GW’s Petrach Program on Ukraine, editorial board chair for Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, and chief editor of the textbook Developments in Russia Politics (Bloomsbury).