4.6
Unwomanly Face of War

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

NPR review:

“The Soviet Union lost an unfathomable 20 million soldiers and civilians in World War II. Alexievich spoke exclusively to women, who served on the front to a degree unmatched in any other country.”

Featured in NPR’s Book Concierge Great Reads of 2017.

Washington Post review:

“The Nobel Prize winner’s harrowing and moving account of female Soviet soldiers’ efforts and indignities during World War II.”

Featured in Washington Post’s 50 Notable Non-Fiction Books of 2017.

Aggregated customer review rating:

4.6 out of 5.0

Ranked 60th in Books

Ranked 12th in History

Ranked 26th in Non-fiction

$ 18

The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”, Svetlana Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories in her gripping novel called The Unwomanly Face of War.

Alexievich has moved many with her writing for over three decades. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”

She gave a voice to people that were going unheard, just like she did for the women in this literary masterpiece, The Unwomanly Face of War.

The women in this novel, more than one million of them, served as were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers, battling alongside men.

Yet still, their efforts and sacrifices were largely forgotten.

Alexievich journeyed thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. She researched deeply to bring true authenticity to this novel.

Therefore, she reveals a different aspect of the war—the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories. The detailed accounts are powerful and poignant, a true reflection of the central conflict of the twentieth century and a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war.

“Magnificent . . . After decades of the war being remembered by ‘men writing about men,’ she aims to give voice to an aging generation of women who found themselves dismissed not just as storytellers but also as veterans, mothers and even potential wives. . . . Alexievich presents less a straightforward oral history of World War II than a literary excavation of memory itself.”—The New York Times Book Review

Her work was translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

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