cover image The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

Svetlana Alexievich, trans. by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, read by Julia Emelin and Yelena Shmulenson. Random House , Audio, unabridged, digital download, 14.5 hrs., $29.50 ISBN 978-1-5247-0848-1

Speaking with Slavic accents, narrators Emelin and Shmulenson divvy up the many stories of Soviet women serving in the military and resistance movements of World War II in the audio edition of this English translation of Nobel Prize–winner Alexievich’s oral history. There are chilling tales of girls witnessing—and perpetrating—atrocities and then wondering how they will be able to return home and have families of their own. And there are stories of sharpshooters, surgeons, and scouts performing heroically but worrying about their femininity and even their humanity. While the audio format is seemingly a natural fit for an oral history, it’s easy to lose track of individuals in the accounts of hundreds of women. Emelin and Shmulenson do their best to provide unique voices for different women and they state the name of each before reading her story, but listeners can’t refer back to those names as easily as readers could. While the book presents numerous women’s experiences in the war, the stories start to blend together with only two actors providing the voices of hundreds of women. A Random House hardcover. (July)