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Avenging Angels: Young Women of the Soviet…

Avenging Angels: Young Women of the Soviet Union's WWII Sniper Corps

by Lyuba Vinogradova

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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An intriguing book which I found incredibly entertaining and informative though at times heart rending. The story of female snipers who served in the Soviet army it demonstrates clearly the challenges they faced not just from the enemy but from within their own side. You experience the war through their eyewitness accounts and feel all their emotions good and bad. Lyuba brings their story to life in a brilliant way. ( )
  prichardson | Feb 10, 2018 |
Author Vinogradova tells how over a half million Soviet Union women not only served in the military during World War II, but were fully integrated into all services. Based on extensive interviews, archives, books, and other source materials, this book touches on female fighter and bomber pilots and focuses on snipers during and after the war. Proficiency meant life for some and death for others.

Women did not receive special treatment. They fought until wounded, killed, or captured. Metals were award based on the number of kills. Regardless of sex, Germans killed these battle-hardened soldiers or sent them to concentration camps. At some point as the front lines move, the mood changes from defense, to surviving, to revenge.

At wars end, the regime treated released prisoners of war as enemies of Russia. The war decimated nearly 97% of the male population born between 1923 and 1925 in Russian. Many times the only returning soldier to a village was female. Villagers shunned female soldiers or labelled them unclean or lesbian. Returning to traditional roles, the women were either tormented by the lives they took, or simply accepted what was and faded into the background.

Readers who questions the role of females in the military and their ability to serve should read this book. These Russian women are not the first to serve in active military combat. The author has put names and faces to a select group whose best description may be that they were just ordinary women that did their best in combat.

There are some mislabeled illustrations in the advanced readers copy. A list of personnel, endnotes, and bibliography are provided.

I received this book free through Net Galley. Although encouraged as a courtesy to provide feedback to the publisher, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
1 vote bemislibrary | Apr 18, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lyuba Vinogradovaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reid, AnnaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tait, ArchTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 168144285X, Hardcover)

Beginning in 1942, with the Eastern Front having claimed the lives of several million Soviet soldiers, Stalin's Red Army began drafting tens of thousands of women, most of them in their teens or early twenties, to defend against the Nazi invasion. Some volunteered, but most were given no choice, in particular about whether to become a sniper or to fill some other combat role.

After a few months of brutal training, the female snipers were issued with high-powered rifles and sent to the front. Almost without exception, their first kill came as a great shock, and changed them forever. But as the number of kills grew, many snipers became addicted to their new profession, some to the point of becoming depressed if a "hunt" proved fruitless.

Accounts from the veterans of the female sniper corps include vivid descriptions of the close bonds they formed with their fellow soldiers, but also the many hardships and deprivations they faced: days and days in a trench without enough food, water, or rest, their lives constantly at risk from the enemy and from the cold; burying their friends, most of them yet to leave their teenage years; or the frequent sexual harassment by male officers.

Although many of these young women were killed, often on their first day of combat, the majority returned from the front, only to face the usual constellation of trials with which every war veteran is familiar. Some continued their studies, but most were forced to work, even as they also started families or struggled to adjust to life as single parents. Nearly all of them were still in their early twenties, and despite the physical and mental scars left by the war, they had no time for complaints as the Soviet Union rebuilt following the war.

Drawing on original interviews, diaries, and previously unpublished archival material, historian Lyuba Vinogradova has produced an unparalleled quilt of first-person narratives about these women's lives. This fascinating document brings the realities and hardships faced by the Red Army's female sniper corps to life, shedding light on a little-known aspect of the Soviet Union's struggles against Hitler's war machine.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Mar 2017 18:25:54 -0400)

The girls came from every corner of the U.S.S.R. They were factory workers, domestic servants, teachers and clerks, and few were older than twenty.

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