Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Unwomanly Face of War

The Unwomanly Face of War
An Oral History of Women in World War II
by Svetlana Alexievich
Random House Publishing Group - Random House
EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780399588723
Pub Date 25 Jul 2017   
FTC Reviewed ARC  for Random House and Net Galley


A long-awaited English translation of the classic oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia—from Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich.

Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive style, Svetlana Alexievich shares stories of women’s experiences in World War II—on the front lines, on the home front, and in occupied territories. The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful history of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war.

My Thoughts

Wow!... Oh, my! Awhile back, I stated I do not read every war book that I view. But, I felt I must read, The Unwomanly Face of War...An Oral History of Women in World War II. This book had been translated into English by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 

The author Svetlana Alexievich, a journalist, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for "polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." 

I probably ought to preface this by stating that WWII occurred decades before my birth so what I know of it came from history books which recounted how WWII did not just affect that generation.  The American men I knew, who served on the front lines during WWII, have now perished. And, they spoke very little of war.. to me. 

This book is phenomenal in that it is a collection of stories from Russian women serving on the front lines in WWII. It makes some interesting points in that it is believed that women have more 'light gathering power' in terms of their 'strength of feeling'. Personally, I do not know if I feel things stronger than a man. But, I do know, I express things differently. Perhaps... more openly.

The women in the front lines were known to be good at communications and were medically necessary. I say, women. But actually, many of these accounts were from women who served in war, at a time when they were barely out of puberty. They were on the front lines because of their ability to change and adapt.

'The Unwomanly Face of War', more than anything else, forces readers to evaluate their values and realize people change when faced with anything close to the hardships of war. Be prepared. This book is not watered down. Each account is interesting and many are agonizingly heartbreaking. 

Prior to today, I could not fathom the importance of saving the weapons along with the man. In all honesty, I never realized a young girl would drag herself into a burning tank, the smell of charred flesh...her flesh. surrounding her. She is lifting a heavy... lifeless ..body while carrying artillery too. 

Yes, this collection tackles terribly difficult content that is war-related. What if you got pregnant while in service? What if you survive this hell only to return home at 19 to parents who did not recognize you?  What if you came home and your sibling handed you a copy of your own death notice?  

When the realization hits.... it hits hard!  Yes, their personal well- being is influenced by their daily sacrificeSo what justifies this? Some of these women say, having a chance to tell about it.These women are their voice of  WWII. All wanted to live a day without remembering the faces of war. But, all the time these women served... they had a strong sense of home. They returned. And, this is their story.

I highly recommend this book.

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