The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

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’. The quality of her work is seen in The Unwomanly Face of Warin which she 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  victory in the Second World war, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.

Alexievich travelled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, they reveal a different aspect of war – the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories. The sable rattlers across the globe in these early days of 2018 should read this book, and plenty like it, before barking their orders. It is a powerful and poignant account of the real cost of conflict.

Check if this upsetting (but also uplifting) work of history is in stock at your local library.

331 pages in Random House

First published 2017

ISBN   978-0399588723

Svetlana Alexievich

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