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A Dance with Death: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Paperback – August 16, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Noggle, a U.S. Women's Airforce Service Pilot during WWII, traveled to Russia several times between 1990 and 1992 to record the reminiscences of 69 Soviet women airforce veterans. Trained as combat pilots, mechanics, navigators and ground crews after Stalin ordered the formation of three all-female air regiments in 1941, their mission was primarily defensive. A number of them became aces-i.e., they shot down five or more enemy planes. This was the first instance of widespread employment of women in combat by a major power. The women talk about their reasons for joining, the extremely rigorous training and harsh living conditions, the way the Soviet military system dealt with them collectively and individually and the role they played in tactical operations. There is plenty of adventure, emotion and drama in these pages, and readers will note that the experiences of these women were hardly different from those of their male counterparts. Noggle writes movingly of the continuing friendships among the survivors (about 100 are still alive) and their twice-yearly meetings in Moscow for a vodka-fueled, sisterly celebration. Most moving of all: the noble photos taken by Noggle of these veterans in old age.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book could have done so much more justice to the incredibly brave women and their enormous sacrifices had it been reduced to only the stories of a selected few women and given more detail of their experiences rather than attempt to include such a large number of women and tell so little about each.
I personally flew just shy of eighty missions as a Marine Huey gunship door-gunner in VietNam. I can assure you there is so much more to be related regarding ONE combat mission than is related in the entire story of these incredible women, many of whom flew such a great number of missions.
If you want a book that is much of a roster of who served as women in the Soviet Air Army and what their duties were, then this book will suffice. I've read many books presented by various Soviet personnel from tank crews, to truck mechanics, to artillerymen, to writers, to mortar men, to cavalry officers and many of the common foot soldier. Included with the foot soldier were those who were sentenced to Penal Companies, usually for some minor infraction, where they were sentenced to, "Pay for their crimes with their blood", that is to say, sentenced to death by being thrown at the enemy to allow Soviet leaders to locate German gun positions while the Penal Company was mown down or to clear mine fields before the main infantry assault. Each gave a rich detailed account of what these folks did and what their circumstances were like. This book does not give justice to the service rendered by each individual. A rich detailed story of the sacrifice of each of these women has been missed.