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Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front Hardcover – March 15, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0521197342 ISBN-10: 0521197341 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521197341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521197342
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,081,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In this brilliant book, Anna Krylova rediscovers a cohort of heroic Soviet Nazi fighting women, reconstructs the documentable yet obscure Stalinist policy that shaped and fulfilled the female fighters' desires to become mechanized warriors, and establishes the role Stalinist culture - what she terms the 'ambiguous cultural and institutional terrain of Stalinism' - played in creating an internally contradictory Communist modern, statist gendered order. This allows her to show the world through Stalinism, rather than Stalinism in the world. Working with the paradoxes and double binds of Stalinist feminism, the book also displaces tired debates on essentialism, representation, mediation, and the biologism of man and woman. Finally, it proposes that one cannot do 'gender history' in the abstract. Only heavily evidenced case studies fulfill the promise of gender histories that are utterly generalizable. When Krylova rethreads these historiographic concerns through the needle of backward Russia, she opens this book to a nonspecialist reader like me and points in the direction of a truly global history of the longest revolution." - Tani Barlow, Rice University

"Soviet women played an extraordinary role in World War II. Their counterparts in other countries served as military auxiliaries; in the USSR many women fought in the front lines of the ground war or took a direct part in the air fighting, and many of them were killed in action. Anna Krylova's book is the first to systematically study this, and her scope extends to the prewar social and gender context and to the postwar telling of the story. Soviet Women in Combat makes an important contribution to the social history of the war and is also a milestone in the gender history of Stalinist and post-Stalinist Russia." - Evan Mawdsley, University of Glasgow

"Anna Krylova has already established herself as one of the most important voices among a new generation of Soviet historians. Now her Soviet Women in Combat offers a pathbreaking interpretation of perhaps the formative era in modern Russian/Soviet history - the Second World War. Krylova is not the first scholar to note that women fought with the Red Army, but she asks new questions about them, combining military, cultural, and gender history in novel and even unsettling ways. The book focuses on the experiences of (and stories about) roughly 120,000 Soviet women combatants - snipers and pilots, anti-tank fighters, and others - to show how, amid this crucible of combat, they created a range of possibilities for thinking differently about gender, about personal identities and social roles, and about the place of violence in a modern and mechanized world." - Douglas Northrop, University of Michigan

"In this extraordinary study of Soviet women in combat, Anna Krylova has with great sensitivity taken a myriad of varied sources (letters, diaries, fiction, films) to produce striking insights into the discourse of gender, war, and women. Here we learn about the conflicting and contradictory meanings given to men and women in the greatest military confrontation in history. Krylova rejects the view that there is a consistent or single Soviet discourse on women, and she begins by exploring two important ways of envisioning women in the 1930s: the conventional or traditional view of women as mothers and daughters, physiologically determined to be gentle, nurturing, and motherly, and the 'feminist' view of early Soviet times, which persists into the later periods - that of a woman who is able to choose her life path and become a professional outside the home. These contrasting views are carried into the war and beyond and give women the ability to shape their own understandings of themselves as both women and soldiers without becoming masculine and losing their womanliness. This book is pathbreaking - rich and textured in its depiction of the various incidents and episodes of women's experiences and male-female contacts. Krylova gives us women as warriors who are still women." - Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan

"The combat performances of Soviet women during the war were so extraordinary that they actually have posed problems for historians. The literature so far has done little more than enthusiastically champion their courage. Krylova's achievement is to approach these women's military careers from the perspective of highly sophisticated questions concerning identity, gender, and change. Rather than accepting uncritically the 'exceptional' nature of the Soviet women combatants, she asks how Stalinist Russia, with its traditional gender values and largely patriarchal society, could have produced such women. How exactly did they begin to think of themselves as warriors? How did the woman soldier become a culturally recognizable Russian - that is, neither an anomaly nor a scandal? Krylova answers these questions by using an impressive breadth of sources, many of them newly available. Despite the theoretical sophistication of Soviet Women in Combat, she is a masterful storyteller who has not lost touch with the magic of her subject. The reader walks away with not only a more subtle understanding of gender transformation but also a vivid sense of these women's courage and sense of adventure." - Mary Louise Roberts, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"...Anna Krylova has certainly posed provocative, important, questions about gender, the state, Stalinist or othewise, and modern warfare, which will undoubtedly resonate with comtemporary discussions about women and war." -Roger D. Markwick, The Russian Review

" engaging book that will appeal to students and scholars interested in the Soviet Union's war effort, as well those interested in the gender history of the Stalin period." -Steven Maddox, Canadian Journal of History

"...essential reading for historians of gender, the Soviet Union, and modern warfare." -Rebecca Manly, The Journal of Modern History

Book Description

Soviet Women in Combat narrates a story about a cohort of Soviet young women who came to think about themselves as "women soldiers" in Stalinist Russia in the 1930s and who shared modern combat, its machines, and commanding positions with men on the Eastern front between 1941 and 1945.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Boris on September 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book. The best part about it is that it tells a story about men and women (snipers, commanders, pilots, artillery women) fighting together on the Eastern front from their own eyes. The author had an amazing access to women's and men's memoirs and recollections. The characters in the book are real and captivating and it is very interesting to follow their stories which are fascinating and often catch you by surprise.
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Format: Paperback
Loved it!!! Anna Krylova nailed it. Wow!

Was very impressed with the work ethics and passion of these Soviet Women in Combat. Had always heard about the Soviet women doing great things. Perfect example of women's contributions to the war effort plus how they can equally contribute. Definitely an example as how a country can maximize when total mobilization happens.

There is much more to learn about all sides of WW2 / Patriotic War. So many heroes (and heroines) across the world during this time period.

acommon1 journey via history
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gian Piero Milanetti on March 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THIS is a reference book about the Soviet female combatant, as the author of several books about the subject Soviet Airwomen I can warmly recommend it! Very good stuff!
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This is a very disappointing book. Its literary style is pedantic---it reads like a PhD thesis---with a constantly repeated theme. I was anticipating a much broader review of the role of women in the Red Army that would include backgrounds, training, roles, combat experiences and after war experiences described over the breadth of arms and services in which women served. Instead I found myself reading a thesis on why women fight illustrated with the experiences of a very limited number of participants. This all presented in a style that makes reading it very difficult.
I thought Glantz was difficult to follow but this author's style is much worse. Like Glantz she should resort to a cooperator to enhance her writing skills.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By debeehr on October 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book hoping for a straight up history of the Soviet women who fought in World War II--an account of the women who went to war, how they fought, what motivated them, how they dealt with challenges and adjusted to combat, and so on, perhaps interspersed with biographical accounts of some of these amazing women. Unfortunately, this book doesn't fit that bill. This is essentially an academic work that is primarily concerned with esoteric and abstruse matters such as the ways in which the participation of Soviet women in combat affected the perception of the battlefield as a gendered space, and the manner in which conflicting and competing gender discourses were mobilized to legitimize or resist women's inclusion in the male-gendered figure of the frontline soldier. If all this sounds "dry" and "pedantic" as another reviewer commented--guess what, it *is.*

Three stars because for the audience at which it is aimed (an extremely narrow segment of the liberal-arts academic community), this book is okay; however, if you are someone outside that audience who is looking for an account of Soviet women's experiences on the front lines, get something else. The ratio of good and interesting information to academic jargon in this book makes it not worth it for the casual audience.
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