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Avenging Angels: Soviet women snipers on the Eastern front (1941-45) Hardcover – April 6, 2017
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Describes in detail how hardened Soviet female soldiers became ruthless crack shots behind enemy lines on the bitter Eastern Front. * Irish Independent Books of the Year * A detailed and vividly immediate account. -- Lucy Hughes-Hallett * New Statesman * Lyuba Vinogradova has written an impressive book, and drawing on letters, diaries and interviews with doughty survivors, she has woven a powerful and moving account of a people at war and of women rising up to take arms, free their country - and, paradoxically, assert their common humanity -- Eamon Delaney * Irish Independent * A riveting study of individuals who saw and did things no woman or man should ever have to . . . Vinogradova is clearly enthralled, if not enraptured, by her subjects. -- Jonathan O'Brien * Sunday Business Post. * Revelatory and gripping. Deftly weaving together the personal - untold - stories of those Russian women who fought as frontline snipers, the author provides a chilling but moving insight into the realities of a brutal struggle. -- Jonathan Dimbleby Well written, engaging and enlightening. -- Roger Moorhouse * The Times. *
About the Author
Dr Lyuba Vinogradova was born in Moscow in 1973. After graduating from the Moscow Agricultural Academy with a PhD in microbiology, she took a second degree in foreign languages. In 1995 she was introduced to Antony Beevor and helped him research Stalingrad. Since then she has worked on many other research projects, and is the co-author (together with Beevor) of A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army. Her book about Russian women fighter pilots, Defending the Motherland, a companion volume to this, was published in 2015, with an introduction by Antony Beevor
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The author chose to bounce between soldiers in the book instead of concentrating on a single soldier's story at one time. This made keeping track of the names of each sniper slightly cumbersome as many names were similar. But this is a minor detraction from what I found to be an excellent work. I would give this 4 1/2 stars if possible...
The one exception to the mostly personal anecdotes was the author’s examination of the story (myth?) of Lyudmila Pavlichenko who was sent to the US during the war to help drum up more support for the Soviet Union and action against Germany. As the author points out, there is good reason to suspect that her exploits were embellished for propaganda purposes.
The author did a good job of writing this as a narrative first, and a history text second, making this a very readable book.
Women did not receive special treatment. They fought until wounded, killed, or captured. Metals were award based on the number of kills. Regardless of sex, Germans killed these battle-hardened soldiers or sent them to concentration camps. At some point as the front lines move, the mood changes from defense, to surviving, to revenge.
At wars end, the regime treated released prisoners of war as enemies of Russia. The war decimated nearly 97% of the male population born between 1923 and 1925 in Russian. Many times the only returning soldier to a village was female. Villagers shunned female soldiers or labelled them unclean or lesbian. Returning to traditional roles, the women were either tormented by the lives they took, or simply accepted what was and faded into the background.
Readers who questions the role of females in the military and their ability to serve should read this book. These Russian women are not the first to serve in active military combat. The author has put names and faces to a select group whose best description may be that they were just ordinary women that did their best in combat.
There are some mislabeled illustrations in the advanced readers copy. A list of personnel, endnotes, and bibliography are provided.
I received this book free through Net Galley. Although encouraged as a courtesy to provide feedback to the publisher, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.