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The Unwomanly Face of War
The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II | Svetlana Alexievich
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
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theshrinkette
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Sunday reading.

Weaponxgirl I loved this book, hope you feel the same way 😊 6mo
35 likes1 stack add1 comment
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lauralovesbooks1
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Pickpick

Alexievich compiles an oral history from the women who served at the Soviet front lines during WWII. These are stories that were often silenced, but their courage and patriotism should have been honored all along. Heartbreaking read, but highly recommend.

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bookishbitch
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Bailedbailed

I'm only bailing because I just can't get into war stories right now. Normally I would set it aside until the mood struck but it's a library book I have to return. So for now I'm done. I did like the writing and the presentation. And I feel it is an important book. I might just have to go buy my own copy to read in spurts.

iread2much I had the exact same experience! I love history and this book is amazing but I just can‘t! 7mo
6 likes1 comment
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bookishbitch
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I've heard good things about this one. Went into my local library to request through inter-library loan and they had it. #winning

10 likes1 stack add
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BakingAndBooks
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When you are reading an intense book and you just take a moment to stare at your bookmark.

BookHoarder32 😆 Bookmark models... 🤔 (edited) 12mo
ephemeralwaltz 🔥🔥 12mo
SleepyDragon Hubba hubba 12mo
Reggie Lolol it doesn‘t even show you the title of the book he‘s reading!!! (Does it matter? Lol) 12mo
28 likes4 comments
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BakingAndBooks
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Pickpick

The intro to this book was amazingly powerful and profound. The writing is elegant and concise. Well worth the read!

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Weaponxgirl
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Pickpick

I don't really know how to review this book. I love what the author has done here, I love the fact that she found these stories. They are important but I hate that this book needed to be written and I hate what these people inside went through before, during and after the war. It's people telling there stories and whilst it is cohesive individual voices come through. This doesn't leave you with any answers at the end, no clear cut good and bad.

Weaponxgirl Just people and their experiences. From many different professions and areas just the war seen through a women's eyes. Covering trying to look pretty still, to losing love, going through torture. This book broke my heart. 13mo
Weaponxgirl All I came away with from this is with a feeling of people. The dehumanising effect of war plus people trying to hold on to humanity. The feelings are so deep here, to realise to the smallest degree what happened. I can't recommend this book enough especially in today's climate of them vs us. Stalin was a monster but a lot of people who fought for him didn't do it for him. We need this understanding of pain in our world to prevent it further 13mo
Weaponxgirl I love this book! I want everyone to read it when they can manage it emotionally. 13mo
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Bookwomble It sounds fantastic - stacked 😊 13mo
Weaponxgirl @Bookwomble I did think it looked like your kind of book when I read it 😀 13mo
HardcoverHearts I saw this everywhere when I was in London last week and contemplated buying it but ended up passing on it. Good to know it‘s a strong pick! 13mo
Bookwomble @Weaponxgirl 😁👍🏻 13mo
Weaponxgirl @HardcoverHearts it's not going to be to everyone's taste I don't think and at first your just reading similar stories again and again and then about halfway through it hit me just how many of these stories hadn't been allowed to be told and I got emotional. It's gonna be a hard book for me to top with the impact it left 13mo
youneverarrived I have this one and I‘m really looking forward to reading it but just waiting for the right mood. 13mo
Weaponxgirl @youneverarrived I completely understand that 13mo
65 likes3 stack adds10 comments
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Weaponxgirl

There can't be one heart for hatred and another for love. We only have one, and I always thought about how to save my heart.

My review on this book will be coming tomorrow

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Weaponxgirl
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#readingwomenmonth pink books all from the library recently. The tagged book would go in #readingwomenchallenge as by a Russian author as would unspeakable as its a book of essays. Inferior is about how science got women wrong and I'm hoping to get to it this month too. @Andrew65 @ephemeralwaltz

ephemeralwaltz I've been meaning to read the tagged book! 1y
Weaponxgirl @ephemeralwaltz it looks so interesting doesn't it! I love the cover too 1y
48 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Suet624
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Only a soul sister would know why I would want to read this. Many thanks and much love to @saresmoore for the late Mother‘s Day, early birthday surprise. I swear...my Litsy friendships have restored my faith in humanity.

batsy How lovely! @saresmoore is the best. I need to read this book too, seems like a necessary one. 1y
Suet624 @batsy seems like a classic for the #sorrowsisters 1y
batsy Indeed! 😆 1y
See All 7 Comments
Bklover @saresmoore You are wonderful!! 1y
saresmoore 😘♥️ 1y
LeahBergen Wonderful! 💕 1y
60 likes1 stack add7 comments
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Varske
Pickpick

I gave this to my daughter for Christmas but had to buy myself another copy after I started reading it. It‘s revealing about what women did in the war and what they still thought about (haircuts, clean clothes). But it‘s rather Soviet in style (or perhaps women still framed their memories in a Soviet way). I preferred Night of Stone by Catherine Merridale.

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hes7
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Mehso-so

In this book, the author compiles stories from women who fought in a variety of ways during World War II. These are important stories to share, and I do appreciate all the work the author did to collect them. Still, I‘m not a fan of nonfiction (though, recently, I keep reading it), so it just didn‘t hold my interest from start to finish.

#MarchMadnessChallenge

JenP Make sure you post your final score and list of books completed on the blog today: https://thereadersroom.org/march-madness-2018/ 1y
Varske I gave this to my daughter for Christmas but had to buy myself another copy after I started reading it. It‘s revealing about what women did in the war and what they still thought about (haircuts, clean clothes). But it‘s rather Soviet in style (or perhaps women still framed their memories in a Soviet way). I preferred Night of Stone by Catherine Merridale. 1y
74 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Booksbymybed
War's Unwomanly Face | Svetlana Alexievich
Pickpick

Read in one sitting, cried a lot. Very important book.

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Booksbymybed
War's Unwomanly Face | Svetlana Alexievich
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My homeland celebrated Victory Day today and I picked up the book I've been meaning to read for a while. Already cried a couple of times. One of the teachers at my school was a WW2 combat veteran and her tales were heart-wrenching.

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Deborah42
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Pickpick

The author interviewed hundreds of Soviet women who served during WWII—some of them in support jobs like nurse and laundress, and more than I realized who served in positions usually held by men, like pilot and sniper.

I didn‘t love this book, but I rarely connect with books about war. However, I think it‘s an important read because these women‘s voices deserve to be heard.

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enidkeaner
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March purchases!

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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

This book is extraordinary. Russian women telling their stories of WWII, where they acted as nurses, surgeons, snipers, engineers, truck drivers, infantry and more. Their words are compelling, riveting, tragic, and awful. It‘s so important to collect these stories before the generation is gone. I found the audio a plus for the Russian accents, though this is truly a collection and not a single narrative.

#marchmadnesschallenge

WhatDeeReads Similar book but fictional and YA 1y
Hooked_on_books @WhatDeeReads Looks interesting. It‘s so good to see the doors being thrown open on what women have done historically. Hopefully it will help women now to know nothing is impossible. 1y
emilyhaldi Nice review. I started this one last week and couldn‘t continue. It was just too dense and the format was too disjointed for me. Maybe it was the wrong time 🤷🏻‍♀️ 1y
Hooked_on_books @emilyhaldi Thanks! It is definitely a tough one to get into—it‘s so brutal. I think bits and pieces at a time could work well. 1y
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emilyhaldi
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I'm reading this oral history in small bits bc it's so intense and a bit hard to follow. It‘s broken up into vignettes and I'm not sure if I like it ? Alexievich wanted to allow the reader to really feel the emotions & memories of the woman by compiling this "symphony of voices" based on the conversations she recorded with each of them.
#soundofthen
#marchintooz

Kalalalatja That‘s exactly how I felt! 1y
Reviewsbylola That‘s intense. That‘ll be a hard pass from me. 😂 1y
GatheringBooks great choice for the prompt. 1y
105 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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ephemeralwaltz
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Bookstore browsing today. So many TBRs 😍

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Kalalalatja
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Mehso-so

First, I‘m glad this book excists. It tells an important story, which is normally kept silence - women‘s place in war.

Second, I‘m not sure I did myself a favour by reading this as an audiobook. This book is filled with so many personal accounts of how WWII was like for women, but they became hard to seperate, and it became almost overwhelming to listen to it.

#MarchMadnessChallenge

ju.ca.no Aah I had this recommended by a Professor at Uni, thanks for reminding me about it! I need this on my wishlist:) 1y
emilyhaldi Noted- I will be reading the physical book so I hope it‘s better 🤞🏻 1y
Kalalalatja @emilyhaldi Good idea! It is always a bummer when the format impacts the reading experience negatively 1y
Kalalalatja @ju.ca.no it is so worth reading! 1y
UrsulaMonarch I love the nuance of your review! 1y
86 likes4 stack adds5 comments
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Booksnchill
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Pickpick

Above is a snapshot of some of the headings in this visceral collection of first person accounts of Soviet women who fought in the second world war. The quote that sticks with me is “war smells like men” upon trying to return home to normalcy. These women fought for the “Motherland” and have finally been asked to tell their tales- several reprintings later without censorship. Winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. #MarchMadnessChallenge @JenP

lauralovesbooks1 I need to move this one up in my stacks! 1y
Booksnchill @lauralovesbooks1 it was very interesting but I had to take it in small chunks at a time as it is unrelenting. Great to have these stories told 1y
69 likes2 comments
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Kalalalatja
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I‘m cozied up in my bed, too lazy to get up, and listening to this audio for #MarchMadnessChallenge. It is about #war and women‘s place in it, and better than I expected, though, overwhelming at times.

#ReadingResolutions

ephemeralwaltz Ooh excited to hear your thoughts. I've been wanting to read this for some time. 1y
GatheringBooks i love lazy days in bed - i don‘t think i‘ve had that in a very very very long time 1y
charl08 Such an amazing book. 1y
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Kalalalatja @ephemeralwaltz so far I‘m really liking it, but there are just so many different stories, that I feel a bit overwhelmed. Maybe it is because I‘m listening to it instead of reading it, I don‘t know... 1y
Kalalalatja @GatheringBooks unfortunately, mine only lasted for an hour, because I had a trip to the library planned 😅 1y
Kalalalatja @charl08 and really important too! 1y
90 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Booksnchill
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Another #MarchMadnessChallenge read borrowed from Libby App. Nobel Prize for Literature winner and a book about war so hits a couple of challenges. Will I have the time??? 😱😬

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GypsyKat
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JoRead Awesome list!! 1y
70 likes1 comment
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TheAliceEvers
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Svetlana Alexievich is a Russian journalist and has put together a book of all the stories of the women she knew who fought in WWII. These women were captains, tank drivers, snipers, pilots, nurses and doctors and were there on the front lines.

Originally Alexievich wasn‘t allowed to publish because her book went against the official history of the war!

Cannot wait to read this one and hear about the strong women lost in history! 💪🏻

Simona It‘s a very memorable book, because of the very descriptive and very intimate tragic scenes and this tragic is even more tragical, because of the events after war ... 1y
44 likes4 stack adds1 comment
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Expandingbookshelf
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Obviously I need to be freezing while reading any book about Russia. I‘m immersive like that 🧤🧣

UrsulaMonarch Wow! Hopefully you have a hat like those on the cover 😉 2y
7 likes1 comment
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brennahawleycraig
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I have three different books for reading next but it looks like they are otherwise detained! 😹

LeahBergen 😂😂 2y
51 likes1 comment
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doomfelter
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"I want to tell you my war..."

This book in a nutshell.

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UrsulaMonarch
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This seems to lay out the thesis of this fascinating book.

36 likes2 stack adds
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TheAnitaAlvarez
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Pickpick

If you haven‘t read Alexiévich‘s work, this is a great place to start. Through interviews and detailed testimonies of several different women, she reconstructs how these women lived the war and how they took part in it. It‘s heartbreaking and wonderful and everyone should read it.

lalatiburona Oooooooooohhhhh that's on my list! 2y
Canadian.Reads Still very far down the hold list on this at my library!! Looking forward to reading it! 2y
SusanInTiburon Want want want 2y
See All 6 Comments
TheAnitaAlvarez @lalatiburona it‘s amazing! All of her work is, really. But this one is just fantastic and chilling and incredible 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @Canadian.Reads hope you get it soon! 2y
TheAnitaAlvarez @SusanInTiburon you won‘t regret it! 2y
106 likes5 stack adds6 comments
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charl08
Pickpick

Genius book. But hard, hard reading about such awfulness.

UrsulaMonarch Looking forward to reading this when I finish ! 2y
charl08 @Lkelly I'd mix it up with something lighter too. I got half way and had to take a breather from all the destruction. 2y
UrsulaMonarch @charl08 sound advice I'm sure! At the rate I read her books, I may mix in several other books! 😳☺️ 2y
33 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Quippe
Pickpick

Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 and this translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is of her first work, an incredibly moving collection of stories and experiences that she collected through interviews with the Soviet women who volunteered for the Russian war effort during World War II to create a uniquely female look at the impact of war and its sacrifices.

RaimeyGallant Interesting! 2y
Quippe Thanks - it's definitely worth a look even if you aren't into WWII. 2y
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Magslhalliday
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I can only read a few pages at a time.

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Simona
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49 likes4 stack adds
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Magslhalliday
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This is why I must never browse bookshops. Just nabbed another book for the TBR bookcase.

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Simona
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Pickpick

Intimate testimonies of women fought shoulder by shoulder with men in the WWII for Motherland. Very personal, emotional experiences from the battlefield, also from the POV of femininity.After the war, they were marked as whores, non-real women, broken material...despised by comrades and Motherland...and they were silent. This voice and recognition was returned to them by the author. Must read, because these women deserves to be heard. #nonfiction

batsy Insightful review 👍 2y
Simona @Abailliekaras This scene is imprint in my brains for forever ... 2y
Simona Very generous comment @batsy 😘 2y
48 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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charl08
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The penguins have nothing to do with the book.
Fascinating personal accounts of women's involvement in fighting during WW2.

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charl08
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This might seem strange to say given the grim quote, but it's true. Fascinating country.

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hwestfall
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Pickpick

I finally finished this book and I firmly believe it is one of those books that needs to be read by as many people as possible. These are accounts of women who fought for Russia during World War II. Young girls who became snipers, antiaircraft gunners, partisans, foot soldiers, the list goes on and on. The author traveled all over recording these women's stories. I was moved to tears over and over again as I learned what these women lived through.

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hwestfall
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Once again tears are in my eyes.

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hwestfall
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This book is beautiful and heartbreaking. I have to read it slowly.

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hwestfall
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This book is heartbreaking and beautiful. #theunwomenlyfaceofwar

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iread2much
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This book is intense, the descriptions remind me that in war there is no humanity and war leaves scars forever. It's really interesting and well written, but I don't know if I will be able to finish it, I don't know if I can handle all the pain.

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BekaReid
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A bit of afternoon reading about the "Historian of the Soul" with coffee and a croissant... Alexievich's book sounds interesting albeit a likely difficult read.

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feministtexican
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Last third of the book, and there's a chapter all about love that runs to gamut from star-crossed lovers to being a "war wife" to a commanding officer. #BooksInTranslation #ReadHarder2017 #love

4 likes1 stack add
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bloem
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got this today!!! can't wait to get stuck in #war #nonfiction #sovietunion

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vivastory
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Looking at The Millions most anticipated second half of 2017 list, the reissue of Alexievich's oral history of the role women played in WWII immediately jumped out at me.

LauraBeth This looks great! 2y
vivastory @LauraBeth I'm a sucker for oral histories. The reissue will be a good excuse for me to also pick up her book 2y
saresmoore It jumped right out at me, too! 2y
See All 11 Comments
vivastory @saresmoore The list is insanely good. I've been adding nearly every book on it to my tbr! 🙃😬 2y
saresmoore Same here! I wonder if I could bequeath my TBR in my will. I'm certainly not going to have any money to leave. 2y
vivastory @saresmoore If money is still worth anything in four years,it will be a miracle. It's best to convert it to books 2y
readordierachel I am so into this. 2y
vivastory @ReadOrDieRachel Right?! It sounds fantastic! 2y
Suet624 @vivastory were you eavesdropping on my conversation yesterday? Money - what money? 2y
vivastory @Suet624 Priorities are important. Can you truly be poor when you have stacks of books? 2y
ephemeralwaltz All her books are on my TBR! :D 2y
61 likes5 stack adds11 comments
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BookishMarginalia
War's Unwomanly Face | Svetlana Alexievich
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The English translation of Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich's oral history of women in #WWII is coming #July2017 from #RandomHouse -- looking forward to it! #diversereads #feministreads

116 likes15 stack adds
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gorica86
War's Unwomanly Face | Svetlana Alexievich
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Pickpick

Great, honest and sometimes brutal.. ..