Goodreads synopsis: This book is a confession, a document and a record of people’s memory. More than 200 women speak in it, describing how young girls, who dreamed of becoming brides, became soldiers in 1941. More than 500,000 Soviet women participated on a par with men in the Second World War, the most terrible war of the 20th century. Women not only rescued and bandaged the wounded but also fires a sniper’s rifle, blew up bridges, went reconnoitering and killed… They killed the enemy who, with unprecedented cruelty, had attacked their land, their homes and their children.
Soviet writer of Bychorussia, Svetlana Alexiyevich spent four years working on the book, visiting over 100 cities and towns, settlements and villages and recording the stories and reminiscences of women war veterans. The soviet press called the book”a vivid reporting of events long past, which affected the destiny of the nation as a whole.” The most important thing about the book is not so much the front-line episodes as women’s heart-rending experiences in the war. Through their testimony the past makes an impassioned appeal to the present, denouncing yesterday’s and today’s fascism…
My thoughts: I feel bad for giving this book only an three in rating. But it is not like I rated the history or something like that. It is the books broken structure that bugs the hell out of me. Let me start from the beginning.
In 2015 Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel price in literature. I bought this book back in 2014 (yeah it as been in my bookshelf for 3+ years) and that she later on won a Nobel price has just gone pass me. Maybe I would have read it earlier if I knew it but oh well. Got to it eventually.
It is hard to write a review on a non-fiction book. This is history. This is true stories from a female perspective. Stories about how they stood at the front line with all the male soldiers and fought for their land. It is hard to believe. Some of them wasn’t even older than 16 year. I’m lucky enough to be born in a time where the war still was “fresh” and people who survived it still live and remember. In a time where most followers on Instagram, biggest lips or most money not was the most important in the world. I do, however, regret that I did not ask them more about that time. How was it for my family? Now, I have the stories in books and movies and it is not until now that I realized that all those stories is mostly told by men. And non of them is told by my family. So I will probably never know.
I’m not gonna talk so much about the books contents. It is hard stuff to read, hard stuff to hear and terrible. Just so terrible that there is no words to describe it. It gives you nightmares and it is hard to image a time like that. Hard to image that type of patriotism where you fight until death for your country. I left my country on my own free will, I don’t even know if I would be willing to fight for it if it ever came to that. That is how different our countries and time has taken us. We women (and men) today, should respect and celebrate those women who stood up like that, with fear and children on there backs. Fighting for what was theirs. Fighting for there country and a future for their children.
The big problem I have with this book, and the reason for its low score, is the structure. It was hard to remember who is who, it kept jumping back and forth in time and place and was just mostly confusing. Eventually, so that I would not quit the book, I started to ignore names. I started just to read the stories and listen for the history. Now I can’t say who did and said what. That is to bad, but the stories and history that these women told, is forever lodged in my head. And even if the structure is bad, I feel that everyone should read the book. Not for the history of it but for the perspective. And to have something who weighs against all the stories out there, who have been told by men.