2023. 130 x 200 mm. Hardcover. 400 p.
Annotation: In books concerning war, people are often presented as faceless extras in the battle between great powers and world leaders. Nonetheless, behind every major event are the decisions, actions, feelings and beliefs of countless individuals. In this book, Oleg Budnitskii offers readers a close-up of the people whose efforts, in their totality, led to victory over the Nazis and Nazism. Budnitskii writes with equal interest about famous historical figures (Winston Churchill, the “besieged Madonna” Olga Bergholz, etc.) and lesser-known – but no less heroic – individuals from the war period. Among these lesser-known figures are: Lt. Colonel Leonid Vinokur, who broke into the headquarters of the German General Friedrich Paulus to demand the latter’s surrender; Vladimir Gelfand, the young gunner whose only friend in the war was his diary; and Georgy Slavgorodsky, who dreamed of being a writer, but became a military man instead. Oleg Budnitskii is a historian, professor, and director of the Institute for Advanced Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at HSE University (Moscow). He is renowned for his research expertise on the history of World War II.
“The remarkable innovation of this book is that it dares to speak about the most difficult problems of Soviet military history in precise, detailed and accessible language that challenges dogma and mythology. Instead of an abstract epic, we are offered concrete situations and the fate of those who participated in the war. Moreover, ‘participation’ is interpreted broadly: soldiers, poets, rulers fought; women and men; children and old people. In my view, precisely such a study, such an intonation of reflection, is urgently needed right now.”
Polina Barskova, poet and philologist
“Before us are brilliant sketches of World War II, shown in its entirety. Sketches of heroism and grief. Thus was the war seen by those who survived it, in whose souls it left an indelible mark.”
Stephen Kotkin, historian