book lists

History.

Russian History:

Svetlana Alexievich, THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR (1983).

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.

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.”

Svetlana Alexievich, Boys in Zinc (1989).

Winner of the Nobel Prize: “For her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” —Swedish Academy, Nobel Prize citation

From 1979 to 1989 a million Soviet troops engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed 50,000 casualties—and the youth and humanity of many tens of thousands more. Creating controversy and outrage when it was first published in the USSR—it was called by reviewers there a “slanderous piece of fantasy” and part of a “hysterical chorus of malign attacks”—Zinky Boys presents the candid and affecting testimony of the officers and grunts, nurses and prostitutes, mothers, sons, and daughters who describe the war and its lasting effects. What emerges is a story that is shocking in its brutality and revelatory in its similarities to the American experience in Vietnam. The Soviet dead were shipped back in sealed zinc coffins (hence the term “Zinky Boys”), while the state denied the very existence of the conflict. Svetlana Alexievich brings us the truth of the Soviet-Afghan War: the beauty of the country and the savage Army bullying, the killing and the mutilation, the profusion of Western goods, the shame and shattered lives of returned veterans. Zinky Boys offers a unique, harrowing, and unforgettably powerful insight into the harsh realities of war.”

Operation Yellow Ribbon:

Kevin Tuerff, Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11 (2017).

When Kevin Tuerff and his partner boarded their flight from France to New York City on September 11, 2001, they had no idea that a few hours later the world — and their lives — would change forever. After U.S. airspace closed following the terrorist attacks, Kevin, who had been experiencing doubts about organized religion, found himself in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, with thousands of other refugees or “come from aways.”

Channel of Peace is a beautiful account of how the people of Gander rallied with boundless acts of generosity and compassion for the “plane people,” renewing Kevin’s spirituality and inspiring him to organize an annual and growing “giving back” day. His story, along with others, has reached thousands of people when it was incorporated into the Broadway musical Come From Away.

In Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, you will find an unforgettable, uplifting tale of goodwill, the strength of the human spirit, and hope.”

Jim DeFede, The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland (2002).

The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway’s Smash Hit Musical Come from Away, Featuring All New Material from the Author

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news.

Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools. This book recounts the inspiring story of the residents of Gander, Canada, whose acts of kindness have touched the lives of thousands of people and been an example of humanity and goodwill.”

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