Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Ashes in the Snow Book Review

When we think of the atrocities and the mass murder that was unfortunately part and parcel of World War II, we think of the Nazis and the Holocaust. We don’t think of the Soviet Union.

Ruta Sepetys‘s 2018 novel, Ashes in the Snow (originally titled Between Shades of Gray) begins in Lithuania in 1941. Lina is your average fifteen year old girl with a passion and a gift for art that shows promise. Then her world is turned upside down by the occupation of the Baltic states.

Soviet officers force themselves into her home in the middle of the night. Separated from her father, Lina, along with her mother, young brother and many others are forced into crowded trains. Their destination is Siberia and a work camp that is dehumanizing in every sense of the word.

Lina uses her artistic skills to keep herself alive mentally and to draw what she is experiencing while hoping that her drawings will reach her father. In spite of the conditions she is living in, Lina fights to survive with her family, but is that enough to keep them alive until they are free?

This book is amazing and a must read, in my opinion. It is obviously not an easy book to read, but a necessary book to read. Experiencing this world through Lina’s eyes, we see this young girl grow into a young woman under circumstances that I would wish on no one. If one thing stood out to me, was that Lina has this incredible source of inner strength that keeps her going when she could easily give up and let death take her.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Aces Book Review

War often asks ordinary citizens to act differently than they would when their country is at peace. This includes women who for the most part, remained in the background.

One of the lesser known and appreciated historical facts about World War II is that the war motivated women to stretch their legs beyond the traditional roles that they were accustomed to. In The Soviet Union, women not only actively joined the armed forces, but also were part of same-sex combat units that successfully fought back against the Germans.

The story of these women is laid out in the 2015 book, Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Ace’s. Written by Lyuba Vinogradova, the author pulls together interviews with the surviving airwomen to tell the story of the squadrons who fought for their country while fighting sexism within the military.

I found this book to be not only educational and well written, but extremely interesting. The author found a way to bring her subjects to life in a way that not only appealed to both the feminist and the history nerd in me.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday-Blast From The Past (1999)

The Cold War was a scary time in The United States. Americans genuinely believed that the Soviet Union were at any moment aiming nuclear rockets, ready to kill millions.

Adam (Brendan Fraser) was raised in a bomb shelter. His parents, Calvin (Christopher Walken) and Helen (Cissy Spacek) believe that the nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union started in earnest. They raised their only son in the shelter. After 35 years in the bomb shelter, it is the only world that Adam knows.

Adam is sent to the surface to get food and supplies. He is extremely surprised that not only is the world intact, but it has changed since his family went underground. He also meets Eve (Alicia Silverstone), who is the cynical ying to Adam’s naive yang. Eve agrees reluctantly agrees to help Adam find the food and supplies that he needs.  As they work together, something changes within their relationship. Will they end their partnership once Adam has acquired what he has come up to the surface to find or is there something more?

This movie is not completely subpar in terms of the romantic comedy genre, but it’s not the best that the genre can offer audiences. The chemistry between the two leads is questionable during some scenes. But it’s cute, which in terms of the genre, means it not all bad.

And the swing dancing scene is very cool.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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