A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II
A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II

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Annotation: Documents the heroic contributions of Soviet airwomen during World War II, examining the formation, obstacles, missions, and enduring legacy of Russia's three female combat pilot regiments.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #209707
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 388 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-245303-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7558-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-245303-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7558-8
Dewey: 920
LCCN: 2018410409
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Wein has written plenty of novels starring daring women flyers, but sometimes the truth is just as compelling as fiction. Such is the case of the three WWII Soviet women's flight regiments she profiles here. Wein lucidly describes the pilots' air battles, crash landings, and escapes, as well as the more mundane details of barracks life, including the drudgery of maintaining their aircraft in the harsh Russian winter; their attempts to adapt their too-big men's uniforms (such as improvised silk underwear from pilfered parachutes); and the deep-seated affection that developed among the women. Of course, this is a book about combat, and deaths are frequent and heartbreaking. Incorporating plenty of primary documents and copious source notes, this is exceptionally well researched, and Wein offers plenty of helpful historical and cultural context to drive the concepts home. While the litany of names, titles, and troop movements can get repetitive, these are nevertheless thrilling stories packed with lively detail, and the fascinating topic, still relatively unknown, should lure a broad range of readers.
Horn Book
Consummate historical-fiction writer Wein here exercises her considerable skill as researcher, historian, and storyteller in a capacious history of the USSR’s three regiments of airwomen during WWII. Wein takes us deep into the training, daily lives, combat, and intense personal commitment these women experienced throughout the war. An easy, friendly writing style invites readers into the company of a formidable sisterhood. Illustrated throughout with maps and period photographs. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
In her first work of nonfiction for teens, Wein (The Last Jedi, 2017, etc.) details the complex and inspiring story of the only women combat pilots of World War II.The "Great Patriotic War" was already under way by the time Marina Raskova—a famous, record-breaking pilot—convinced the Soviet Union to create women's air regiments. Using photographs and primary source quotations, Wein brings these regiments of young women to life, tracing their harrowing experiences before, during, and after the war. A detailed overview of the Russian political and social landscape in the first half of the 20th century is interwoven throughout the narrative, contextualizing the Soviet Union's involvement in World War II. Wein thoughtfully addresses her readers' contemporary understanding of identity politics, acknowledging the homogeneity of her white (despite the ethnic diversity of the USSR), straight subjects and the ways that Soviet ideologies about gender align with or differ from the expectations of contemporary American readers. The Soviet women's experiences are placed in context through comparisons with the roles of women pilots in the Royal Air Force and the United States military. Vivid descriptions of their personal sacrifices and the deep bonds they formed connect readers to the story. Careful footnotes provide information about unfamiliar vocabulary, and pagelong sidebars round out the history with tangential but fascinating facts.For readers invested in military and/or feminist history, this important book soars. (source notes, bibliography) (History. 14-18)
Publishers Weekly
In this engrossing account, Wein (The Pearl Thief) introduces three Soviet regiments of female combat pilots during WWII. The chapters cover the ambitions, training, daily life, horrors, and successes of the -thousand sisters- who volunteered to join their commander, Marina Raskova, for this perilous work. The opening sections about Raskova-s rise to prominence are particularly well-written and include helpful background on the Soviet Union-s formation, Stalin, and the 1930s, as well as the 1938 flight of the Rodina, which made Raskova a household name. Once the regiments disperse to separate locations, each with a different mission and type of aircraft, the narrative becomes trickier to manage. Wein successfully reminds readers of locations and who-s who, but some of the later chapters suffer from name overload. Still, readers will be impressed by her clear, casual style and her affecting introduction to these courageous, determined pilots, mechanics, and navigators. Insets provide information on side subjects, such as radar vs. radio and female pilots in the U.S. and Britain. Abundant archival photos, a bibliography, and source notes support the story. Ages 13-up. (Jan.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up From Wein, author of Code Name Verity , comes a nonfiction account of the women pilots of the Soviet Union. Starting prior to World War II, Wein describes how aviation became a hobby and passion for many young women in the Soviet Union. When World War II started, life under the Soviet system meant women could serve as pilots, theoretically equal to men, in the war effort. Wein provides a meticulously detailed account of Marina Raskova's Aviation Regiments: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. These three were largely staffed with women volunteers and fought on the frontlines of the war. The author provides an intimate look at the pilots' lives, both personal and military, as they work to defeat the Nazis. Likewise, Wein does not shy away from describing the difficult and often terrifying aspects of living under Stalin, including descriptions of man-made famines and the Great Purge. Some readers may have difficulty keeping track of all of the figures, but Raskova often acts as an anchor to assist readers in following the numerous and complex accounts. VERDICT Recommend this richly detailed work of nonfiction to fans of Monica Hesse and Wein's historical fiction. Kaetlyn Phillips, Yorkton, Sask.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 357-368) and index.
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12

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 Verity In 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 588th 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 war. This 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 sky. Packed 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.

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