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

Category: Book
By (author): Alexievich, Svetlana
Translated By: Pevear, Richard
Translated By: Volokhonsky, Larissa
Subject:  HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
  HISTORY / Military / World War II
  HISTORY / Women
  NON-FICTION / General
Publisher: Random House
Published: July 2017
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 384
Size: 9.50in x 6.30in x 1.30in
Our Price:
$ 40.00
Availability:
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A long-awaited English translation of the groundbreaking oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia-from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"A landmark."-Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. 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."

In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women-more than a million in total-were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.

Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women's stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war-the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories.

Translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war.

"But why? I asked myself more than once. Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? They did not believe themselves. A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown . . . I want to write the history of that war. A women's history."-Svetlana Alexievich

THE WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
"for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

"Patient in overcoming cliché, attentive to the unexpected, and restrained in exposition, her writing reaches those far beyond her own experiences and preoccupations, far beyond her generation, and far beyond the lands of the former Soviet Union."-Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

"Alexievich's artistry has raised oral history to a totally different dimension. It is no wonder that her brilliant obsession with what Vasily Grossman called ‘the brutal truth of war' was suppressed for so long by Soviet censors, because her unprecedented pen portraits and interviews reveal the face of war hidden by propaganda."-Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

"[Alexievich moves] away from military narrative and [tells] the tales of Soviet women who took on male roles, fought on the front lines, killed and got killed, but still looked at the shattered world around them from a feminine perspective, focusing on human suffering and basic emotions free of any pathos."-Newsweek

"A mighty documentarian and a mighty artist . . . Her books are woven from hundreds of interviews, in a hybrid form of reportage and oral history that has the quality of a documentary film on paper. But Alexievich is anything but a simple recorder and transcriber of found voices; she has a writerly voice of her own which emerges from the chorus she assembles, with great style and authority, and she shapes her investigations of Soviet and post-Soviet life and death into epic dramatic chronicles as universally essential as Greek tragedies."-The New Yorker
Review Quote*"A landmark in the study of female soldiers . . . [Svetlana Alexievich's] method is the close interrogation of the past through the collection of individual voices; patient in overcoming cliché, attentive to the unexpected, and restrained in exposition, her writing reaches those far beyond her own experiences and preoccupations, far beyond her generation, and far beyond the lands of the former Soviet Union."-Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

"Alexievich's artistry has raised oral history to a totally different dimension. It is no wonder that her brilliant obsession with what Vasily Grossman called ‘the brutal truth of war' was suppressed for so long by Soviet censors, because her unprecedented pen portraits and interviews reveal the face of war hidden by propaganda."-Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

"[Alexievich moves] away from military narrative and [tells] the tales of Soviet women who took on male roles, fought on the front lines, killed and got killed, but still looked at the shattered world around them from a feminine perspective, focusing on human suffering and basic emotions free of any pathos."-Newsweek

"A mighty documentarian and a mighty artist . . . Her books are woven from hundreds of interviews, in a hybrid form of reportage and oral history that has the quality of a documentary film on paper. But Alexievich is anything but a simple recorder and transcriber of found voices; she has a writerly voice of her own which emerges from the chorus she assembles, with great style and authority, and she shapes her investigations of Soviet and post-Soviet life and death into epic dramatic chronicles as universally essential as Greek tragedies."-The New Yorker

"In her distinctive nonfiction style, a mix of her own reflections and transcribed, edited interviews with diverse Russians who have lived through decades of hardship, Alexievich focuses on women who recounted to her amazing stories of their participation in World War II. . . . Essential reading full of remarkable emotional wealth."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Whatever you thought you knew about the war, you should put it aside and listen to the voices here."-Library Journal

"Lyrical, elegant . . . Alexievich's first book remains as soulful as ever."-Publishers Weekly

"Nobel laureate Alexievich created this riveting oral history in 1985, and it retains its eloquence and often-shocking power in its first English translation."-Booklist

"Alexievich has gained probably the world's deepest, most eloquent understanding of the post-Soviet condition. . . . [She] has consistently chronicled that which has been intentionally forgotten."-Masha Gessen

"Alexievich stations herself at a crossroads of history and turns on her tape recorder. The result is oral history that at times can feel more authentic than narrated history. . . . Alexievich makes it feel intimate, as if you are sitting in the kitchen with the characters, sharing in their happiness and agony."-The Washington Post

"Alexievich's witnesses are those who haven't had a say. She shows us from these conversations, many of them coming at the confessional kitchen table of Russian apartments, that it's powerful simply to be allowed to tell one's own story. . . . This is the kind of history, otherwise almost unacknowledged by today's dictatorships, that matters."-The Christian Science Monitor
Biographical NoteSvetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, in 1948 and has spent most of her life in the Soviet Union and present-day Belarus, with prolonged periods of exile in Western Europe. Starting out as a journalist, she developed her own nonfiction genre, which gathers a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment. Her works include The Unwomanly Face of War (1985), Last Witnesses (1985), Zinky Boys (1990), Voices from Chernobyl (1997), and Secondhand Time (2013). She has won many international awards, including the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."