I already knew a bit about the Night Witches due to my interest in WWII and flying, however, it s still relatively difficult to learn about them This is, in part, due to the fact that after WWII the USSR had a pretty tight grip on what got out of its borders, the second part is explained by Wein in the book the women were told not to discuss their roles in the war I was quite pleased when I discovered this book was coming out, by one of my favorite authors no less It did not disappoint.
The book starts by discussing Marina Raskova and her rise into 1 becoming a pilot, and 2 becoming the founder of the Night Witches It s interesting to read about Marina growing up in a Russia that was unsettled by the politics of the time, yet still managing to persevere and become a female pilot in what was still, even in the gender equal Russia USSR, a man s world From what Wein writes about her, Marina seemed to not only have been influential for female pilots and the aviation industry of Russia, but was also influential in politics.
After the bit about Marina and how the politics and society of Russia changed to allow so many young women into aviation, Wein got deep into the sections of the 588th Bomber Regiment, the 46th Bomber Regiment, and the 586th Fighter Regiment Despite the equality of the USSR in giving girls the chance to fly, the women in the regiments still had to fight to join the air force Of course, all of the girls who signed up wanted to fly, practically speaking, it wasn t possible to assign all of them to be pilots Some became pilots, others became navigators, and some never reached the air at all, performing ground crew tasks such as loading bombs, repairing the planes, and refueling.
Despite any disappointments in assignment, the women in the regiments were all very connected and, describing themselves as sisters and family If there was a loss of which there were many it was felt by all in the regiment I really liked how Wein made sure to include this in the story It would ve been very easy to simply tell the story of the women and only focus on the war side of the story, instead, she manages to weave in the emotional side between descriptions of bombings, training exercises, and losses These women were afraid together, afraid for each other, theylovedeach other, and it comes through not just in the moments when Wein points it out, but also in the moments directed elsewhere She isalsogood at pointing out that the relationships of the women with one another were heavily influenced by the USSR s and the time s views on heterosexuality, and that it is entirely possible some of the women loved each other romantically and not just platonically, but couldn t be open about it due to the beliefs about homosexual relationships in Russia both during WWII and nowA Thousand Sisterswas well researched and well written The story has a good balance between the war side of the story and the emotional one It was also nice to see the inserts that discussed things mentioned in the book, or how things were going for women in aviation abroad I was very happy with how the book read and the amount of information I got about the Night Witches that was previously unknown or at least unknown to me.
Not many people are familiar with the brave Night Witches, a group of pilots who flew countless bombing missions during WWII This is most likely due to these reasons they were all women, Russian and they were told not to discuss what they did during the war and the pivotal role they played Stalin needed pilots and agreed to a risky plan to train a select group of young women who would fly into enemy Germany and run nightly bombing missions The work was difficult, required great aviation skill as many times they could add fog to the already dangerous night flying and was extremely dangerous Stalin was also clear on something else you could not be captured nor could you retreat or your family would suffer the consequences As with all of Elizabeth Wein s books you are completely immersed into what these almost unheard of inexperienced women went through In a world filled with and run by men, the 588th Night Bomber Regiment outperformed their male counterparts without complaint This makes a great companion book to Kate Quinn s THE HUNTRESS coming out in February My thanks to the publisher for the advance read.
This contains a lot of interesting information, but it is lacking in cohesion I feel like it could have used longer time in the editing process However, it is definitely still worth the read.
I ve been a reader and fan of the history of the Night Witches since I found a battered hardback in my middle school library about the only all women aviation combat unit in World War II Since then, it s been hard finding information on them, but in the four years or so there have been several YA and adult fiction novels written about these remarkable women.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw that Elizabeth Wein one of my favorite YA historical fiction authors and champion of women in aviation was writing a nonfiction YA novel on my favorites This is a comprehensive look at the women and men of Marina Raskova s regiments there were three the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th 125th Guards Regiment of Day Bombers, and the 588th 46th Taman Guards Night Witches Night Bomber Regiment the first two integrated men into their structures, but the Night Witches stayed all women for the duration and the ups and downs, deaths and successes, of the brutal fight on the Eastern Front.
In addition, Wein places the conflict on the Eastern Front in World War II in context with that was happening with the rest of the war, and provides a good lead in to gender equality well, equality on paper in the Soviet Union versus the rest of the world This contextualization of the Night Witches helped place them in time, both geographically and socially, withfamiliar storylines like the Nazi bombing of London in 1940, D Day and the war in the pacific.
Most importantly to this book was the inclusion of her source notes, which were many although she notes that her inability to read Russian limited what she had access too.
The writing is crisp, clear and riveting While it is written for a YA audience, it does not shy away from gore, but the gore is not used as a shock tactic but merely to show the brutality that is war While there were some clunky metaphors spread throughout the book e.
, the use of wind as a metaphor for change and shifting norms , there were many parallels to today s political environment, for example Fascism, which we associate so strongly with the Nazi Party, is a form of government rooted in nationalism, in which democracy gives way to a dictator.
An unsubtle jab at the current rise in nationalism in um, certain places.
But this isn t just a rah rah rallying cry for the amaze ballness of the Soviet Union In addition to the triumphs in women s equality in aviation, education and other areas, Wein also points out the destruction and devastation the leaders of the Soviet Union brought on their own people, either through collectivization and starvation, the fear of exile, torture or murder, and the extreme desire to conform to avoid being reported on by a friend or neighbor.
Overall, this was an enlightening look at both the early days of the Soviet Union, women in aviation, the Great Patriotic War, and of course, Marina s Regiments of women aviators.
I received this ARC from the publisher and Edelweiss for an honest review.
Quite interesting but kind of long.
I have always been impressed with Elizabeth Wein s works Code Name Verity and The Pearl Thief are my two favorites When I discovered she was writing a non fiction book, I was excited, to say the least I waited in anticipation for A Thousand Sisters to be released It took me several months to get my hands on a copy of the book, and when I did, I was not disappointed.
A Thousand Sisters is a non fiction book about the women who flew in the U.
R s air force during World War Two, or, as Russia terms it, the Great Patriotic War These women flew dozens of combat missions a night and faced double the challenges the men faced due to their sex Despite this and the typical wartime tragedies that befall soldiers, these women s squadrons produced some of the best pilots in the war This tale isn t often told in the West, whether it be because people choose to turn a blind eye because they are Soviets, or because no one has chosen to care since World War Two These women garnered much attention during WW2, especially in America Despite, and in fact because of this, their tale of bravery in the face of adversity and war is inspiring and rings true no matter the era described.
The one thing I disliked about A Thousand Sisters is rather miniscule In the first part of the book, Wein spends what I felt was too long describing some simple matters concerning terminology Granted, I did learn this terminology from her other books however, in those books I had to use context clues to figure them out there was no explanation handed to me This leads me to believe that these terms could have been learned via context clues in A Thousand Sisters I do understand why Wein included such explanations, but I did find that they were occasionally clunky and disrupted the narrative aspect of A Thousand Sisters.
Other than that, fantastic book I would recommend this to anyone who has an appreciation for World War Two, aviation, or are interested in learning about women in history.
The Gripping True Story Of The Only Women To Fly In Combat In World War II From Elizabeth Wein, Award Winning Author Of Code Name VerityIn The Early Years Of World War II, Josef Stalin Issued An Order That Made The Soviet Union The First Country In The World To Allow Female Pilots To Fly In Combat Led By Marina Raskova, These Three Regiments, Including The Th Night Bomber Regiment Nicknamed The Night Witches Faced Intense Pressure And Obstacles Both In The Sky And On The Ground Some Of These Young Women Perished In Flames Many Of Them Were In Their Teens When They Went To WarThis Is The Story Of Raskova S Three Regiments, Women Who Enlisted And Were Deployed On The Front Lines Of Battle As Navigators, Pilots, And Mechanics It Is The Story Of A Thousand Young Women Who Wanted To Take Flight To Defend Their Country, And The Woman Who Brought Them Together In The SkyPacked With Black And White Photographs, Fascinating Sidebars, And Thoroughly Researched Details, A Thousand Sisters Is The Inspiring True Story Of A Group Of Women Who Set Out To Change The World, And The Sisterhood They Formed Even Amid The Destruction Of War This book is a true story of trimuphs and losses, set during world war II I really enjoyed reading this book because Elizabeth E Wein is very good at describing stuff I felt like I was actually in the airplanes with the women pilots I actually was suprised at Russia being the first country to allow women to fly in battle, but it makes sense because the country was communist at that time and they had gender equality ideals This book was tough to read at times when it talked about the graphic crash scenes, and for me, it was hard to keep track of all the women in the story Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book.