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The Unwomanly Face of War
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About the Author

Svetlana 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."

Reviews

"A monument to courage . . . It would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original. . . . [Svetlana] Alexievich's account of the second world war as seen through the eyes of hundreds of women is an extraordinary thing. . . . Her achievement is as breathtaking as the experiences of these women are awe-inspiring."--The Guardian

"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

"Could not have appeared at a more opportune time . . . Women did everything--this book reminds and reveals. They learned to pilot planes and drop bombs, to shoot targets from great distances. . . . Alexievich has turned their voices into history's psalm."--The Boston Globe "Harrowing and moving . . . Alexievich did an enormous service, recovering these stories. . . .The Unwomanly Face of War tells the story of these forgotten women, and its great achievement is that it gives credit to their contribution but also to the hell they endured."--The Washington Post

"We should resolve to read this book alongside the world news report. . . . Ms. Alexievich never tries to simplify. . . . Refusing to pass judgment, crediting all, she listens, suffers and brings to life. . . . It took years and many miles of traveling to find and capture all the testimonies here. . . . We still end up feeling that we have been sitting at her side. With her, we hear the memories of partisans, guerrilla fighters trapped behind the lines."--The Wall Street Journal

"Alexievich has forged her own distinctive identity: as a witness to witnesses who usually go unheard. . . . In a 'post-truth' era when journalism is under pressure--susceptible to propaganda, sensationalism, and 'alternative facts'--the power of documentary literature stands out more clearly than ever. . . . Listen to Alexievich."--The Atlantic "[A] remarkable collection of testimonies . . . Sitting at kitchen tables, Alexievich coaxes out of the women stories that describe a reality vastly different from the officially sanctioned version. . . . They speak guardedly but vividly of fleeting encounters, deep relationships, unexpressed feelings."--The New Yorker "Continually shocking and tearjerking . . . The introductory materials here, in which Alexievich quotes from the journals she kept while working on the project and from her later reflections and dealings with censors, are as compelling as the primary text."--The Christian Science Monitor "Alexievich gives us an idea of how the army women were perceived by society, during the war and afterwards. . . . These voices, thanks to Alexievich, have themselves become part of history."--Financial Times

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