Lady Death: The Mem­oirs of Stalin’s Sniper

Lyud­mila Pavlichenko

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - BEN­JAMIN WEL­TON

Green­hill Books (MAY) Hard­cover $32.95 (272pp) 978-1-78438-270-4

This World War II mem­oir from Soviet Red Army sniper Lyud­mila Pavlichenko is some­thing of a time cap­sule, pre­serv­ing the mind­set of a Soviet cit­i­zen/ sol­dier dur­ing the world’s most geno­ci­dal con­flict.

Lady Death deals with the on-the-ground re­al­i­ties on the East­ern Front fol­low­ing the Axis’s launch of Op­er­a­tion Bar­barossa in the sum­mer of 1941. At that time, Pavlichenko was a fourthyear his­tory stu­dent in Kiev with a strong ded­i­ca­tion to her coun­try. Through a shoot­ing club at her fac­tory, Pavlichenko was also one of the Soviet Union’s best-trained marks­men.

On the bat­tle­fields of Crimea, where Soviet snipers rained hell on Ger­man and Ro­ma­nian troops at Odessa and Sev­astopol, Pavlichenko shot her way to bat­tle­field glory. Be­fore long, this hum­ble sergeant racked up hun­dreds of con­firmed kills.

A sense of hu­mil­ity runs through Lady Death. In one scene, fol­low­ing Pavlichenko’s suc­cess­ful duel with an en­emy sniper, she be­comes an­noyed by the false­hoods that are printed by Soviet jour­nal­ists. Sim­i­larly, Pavlichenko is open about how un­com­fort­able she be­came with the Soviet me­dia and the state’s use of her as a pros­e­ly­tizer for the war. These awk­ward feel­ings were strong­est dur­ing Pavlichenko’s whirl­wind tour of Amer­ica.

Lady Death is a de­tail-rich ac­count of one woman’s war ex­pe­ri­ence. Pavlichenko notes that her comrades of­ten scoffed at the idea of a fe­male sol­dier—a point on which she was quick to set them straight. Tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion about Soviet ri­fles and the ba­sic me­chan­ics of snip­ing are also in­cluded, along­side con­stant re­minders of Pavlichenko’s ha­tred of “Fas­cists” and her de­sire to kill as many as pos­si­ble.

This red-blooded mem­oir is per­fect for any war-his­tory buff. Pavlichenko’s lan­guage is strait­laced and un­adorned, and Lady Death pro­vides more than a few in­ter­est­ing anec­dotes about how the Red Army man­aged to de­feat the at-times numer­i­cally and tech­no­log­i­cally su­pe­rior Axis forces.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.