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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexeivich, read by Julia Emelin and Yelena Shmulenson.

Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive style, The Unwomanly Face of War is Svetlana Alexievich's collection of stories from Soviet women who lived through the Second World War: on the front lines, on the home front and in occupied territories. As Alexievich gives voice to women who are absent from official narratives - captains, sergeants, nurses, snipers and pilots - she shows us a new version of the war we're so familiar with, creating an extraordinary alternative history from their private stories.

Published in 1985 in Russia and now available in English for the first time, The Unwomanly Face of War was Alexievich's first book and a huge best seller in the Soviet Union, establishing her as a brilliantly revolutionary writer.

©2017 Svetlana Alexievich (P)2017 Penguin Random House UK

What listeners say about The Unwomanly Face of War

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Staggering

An incredibly harrowing yet touching series of stories told by the women of WW2 from Belarus and Ukraine . The brutality and senseless carnage of brothers and sisters hating one another over ideas. War is as is so evidently illustrated here is always brutally conducted on the innocent people who have no power and no choices. Why isn’t war illegal? Why isn’t war simply a crime in itself? These are the questions I ask after listening to the beautiful voices of these women.

5 people found this helpful

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Boring

Self indulgent and philosophical, with no actual stories of what women achieved and endured during war times. Couldn’t take the boredom to persevere to find out if they were ever to eventualise.

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A compelling but traumatic experience.

Not an easy listen, but fascinating, heartfelt, and tragic. moments of humour, but mostly of thankless sacrifice, followed by betrayal by the state, and those who stayed home.

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The author is the star

I was really looking forward to a different perspective of the war but the first half of this book is more about the author and her experience writing the piece than of the actual women themselves. She makes sure she is truly the star. Initially the women she interviews are reduced to one or two sentences and that’s all. By the second half Svetlana finally stops talking about herself so much and you get a flow of individual women and their experiences. It’s gritty and tough and at times, downright heart breaking. And then it just ends. There’s not even a wind down. One woman finishes telling her piece and that’s it.

I wouldn’t say don’t read it as there are some truly compelling stories; but I also won’t buy another of her books. I’d rather stick to authors that don’t insert themselves in their text half so much.

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Mother Russia

A common theme running through these reminiscences is the love for Mother Russia. The Russian/German conflict was often barbaric, but it was one of the turning points in the war, and these oral histories from the front line are valuable.

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The perfect format for it

A great book on its own, but the fact that it is oral history makes the audiobook the best format to experience it.

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incredibly moving records of history

I thought this book was very moving. I very much enjoyed listen to the stories of the women and what they went through in the war. it was and very humble story telling. I thought the start of the book was a bit slow but once you got into it it was good listening.

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Wow, I had no idea.

This was equally amazing, inspiring, funny, terrible, enlightening and horrifying.
I had no idea that women had served in so many front-line roles in WW2.
Persist through the lengthy introduction, it is worth it.

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Amazingly brutal and touching

I loved every minute. It was a really good presentation to use different voices for each interviewee. It appears to explain so much about Russian, or Soviet, fortitude. I was brought up with stories of rationing and the blitz but the hardship of Nazi occupation on the eastern front must have been a living hell.

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  • JanitaH
  • 09-04-2018

Terrible and haunting, essential reading

Despite the horrors of war described in this book, I was constantly surprised by the tenderness and love of these women.

3 people found this helpful

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  • helloitsmefolks
  • 11-03-2018

Sadness of War

Instead of men writing about war the women of Russia have their say about World War 2 and all its tribulations. Their story would be the same the world over throughout history. Some stories can reduce you to tears, others about bravery and fortitude can show what can be done in the face of overwhelming odds and the brutality of war. A book not for the faint hearted but still worth listening too.

9 people found this helpful

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  • bella
  • 22-04-2019

unwomanly face of war

incredibly sad but a story that has to be told.
the author has captured a thousand different experiences


4 people found this helpful

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  • Marta
  • 03-03-2021

Oral history

This is oral history at its finest and the stories are vividly brought to life by the performers. I found it tricky at first to find the right listening environment; I tend to listen while walking or shopping but with The Unwomanly Face of War I really wanted to minimise distraction and give the stories of these women the attention they deserve.

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  • Elske76
  • 31-01-2021

heartwrenching

The stories of the women are heartwrenching but beautiful. Stories of loss and grief, of women who participated in wwII..

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-01-2021

Excellent - shocking!

Great book, very hard to listen to some parts, shocking to hear what these Russian women went through in the fight against the Nazis! We owe them great gratitude for sharing their stories, and to the author for her work in writing their stories down.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-01-2021

One of the best books I've ever read

I've been with audible 13 months. Have gone through 15 ish books. All ww1 ww2 vietnam. I've got to say this is the most moving book I've ever read. Moved me to tears sometimes. Narrating was fantastic. I have enjoyed it so much I'm going to start to listen to it again. Highly recommend it

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  • Rose
  • 01-12-2020

the unwomanly face of war

It has it all does this book. itt’s harrowing, fascinating, cruel, kind, vain as only the young can be and yet full of gallows humour as only a book that tells such a story can be at times. it’s not the kind of book you read if you’re feeling low or depressed. it’s a great book if you just want to have a good cry but don’t know how. War is a terrible thing. Everyone knows that and yet it will never stop happening. Everybody deep down knows that too though they have faith that it might some day stop and good luck to those that have such faith.

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  • Hayley Hall
  • 07-09-2020

A wonder exploration of hidden histories.

Loved this. Thought provoking and evokative. I be listening to it again. A new way of bringing home the scale of the conflict.

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  • hellojoanie
  • 27-04-2020

The awful face of war

Beautifully told by those who lived it. Awful but essential listening. Buy it and live it. I don't often leave a review and this is not a book I would have read, but listen to it and feel it.

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  • Steve
  • 18-04-2020

Important Historical Record

A well researched and written historical account of the horrors of war and the suffering of the Russian women who contributed to the victory on the Eastern front. It is difficult not to be moved to tears as you listen to the various personal accounts of the carnage, bereavement, suffering, hardship and courage of those women who provided their stories to make this book possible.

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