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On the Road to Stalingrad: Memoirs of a Woman Machine Gunner [Paperback]

By Kazimiera Jean Cottam (Author)
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Item description for On the Road to Stalingrad: Memoirs of a Woman Machine Gunner by Kazimiera Jean Cottam...

Zoya Medvedeva (married name Smirnova), the author and principal heroine of this book, a creative documentary, fought with the famous 25th Chapayev Infantry Division. She has provided an authentic, eyewitness account of the desperate fighting in the trenches for Odessa and Sevastopol, as promised to her role model, mentor and friend Nina Onilova, a legendary machine gunner, before the latter died from her wounds in March 1942. Though half-blinded, eventually Medvedeva became a machine-gun company commander. Too modest to dwell on her own exploits, instead she writes about her former comrades-in-arms, many of whom were killed or hospitalized and some, like Medvedeva herself, had to wander across the enemy-occupied Stavropol Territory, after their release from various military hospitals, in order to break through to Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kizlyar to the southeast of Stalingrad.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
Pages   132
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 15, 2006
Publisher   Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  1585101583  
ISBN13  9781585101580  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kazimiera Jean Cottam

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Kazimiera J. Cottam, an expert military translator and author, is a recipient of the prestigious 1999 Mary Zirin Prize of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. A PhD graduate in Eastern European history from the University of Toronto, she also is a former part-time professor of Russian history at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and Research Associate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Military > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Military
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Biographies
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
5Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
6Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General

Reviews - What do customers think about On the Road to Stalingrad?

Not A Keeper  Dec 18, 2006
This book is poorly written!! There are so few details,I was skipping paragraphs trying to find interesting parts. I donated it to our public library for their book sale before I had finished reading it.
A common soldier who happens to be a woman  Oct 4, 2002
This is a very interesting autobiography of a woman soldier in the Red Army during World War 2. Many people do not know over million women fought in combat in the Soviet Union. I don't know why this book is called On the Road to Stalingrad, because it is not about the battle of Stalingrad. Zoya fought in Sevastopol to liberate the Ukraine. She was not special or a heroine, she was just doing her job, which was a Maxim Machegun operator. She was wounded and went back to the front. The end of the biography is very poignant as she describes what happened to all her comrades. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the War.
Much Better Than the Title  Dec 9, 2001
This is a well written account of actions in WWII. It is not just a 'gimick' of a story because the author was a woman. Man or woman, this book rates up there with all other good first person experiences in WWII. The story of the entrapment behind German lines of her team, and their methods of escape, is as intriquing as any mystery or adventure book. Buy this one if you like war stories, WWII, or want to learn more about the Russian/German battles.
very good book  Oct 31, 2001
This is a very good book. I read the whole thing on a flight to Russia. It is about a Russian woman who joined the army when Hitler attacked Ukraine. She fought in the famous regiment of Chapeyev. She was wounded, but returned to fight. This book shows how difficult was the war, when everybody was needed to fight. If you have interest in World War 2 you will like this auto-biogreaphy.
Memories from a forgotten front  Jun 9, 2001
You may be in for a surprise: not only Zoya Smirnova-Medvedeva (whose memories as a 19 years old volunteer with the 24th "Chapayev" Division of the Red Army details her involvement in the ultimately tragic defence of Odessa and Sevastopol in 1941 and 1942) didn't kill many Germans in her wartime career, but she spent much of the war - before being demobilised in 1944 after receiving a disabling wound - doing what most soldiers do: trying to save her own life while doing her own duty.

It's interesting to note how the most sincere memories of the Eastern Front (see for instance "In Deadly Combat", a superb German account of the life on the Baltic Front) tends, after all, to make WWII look like WWI. No dashing armoured assaults, no shining new technology: but trenches, long and tiresome marches, endless artillery and aerial strikes, hunger, cold and weariness. In Zoya's case you should add a not-so-subtle tendency of her comrades to be alternatively suspicious or patronising about her warlike qualities, and the difficulties of being a woman forced on a uneasy cohabitation with a lot of male recruits, fighting a defensive battle in definitely-not-triumphant phase of the war. Zoya tends (of course) to downplay the relation problem and emphasise the comradeship, but reading between the lines something becomes evident.

It may sound as downright depressing but, while "On The Road To Stalingrad" (another entry in the outstanding series of Russian wartime women memories edited by professor KJ Cottam) is at times truly grim , especially when dealing with the loss of human life so matter-of-factly, it's still a great reading, tempered by a detached, objective attitude and the usual Russian fatalistic humour. You really get the impression that Zoya's comrades are the same Russian soldier of Tolstoy's books- down to earth, rugged people with few illusion but an unlimited faith in friendship as a mean to survive every calamity.

As often happens in Soviet-era war literature, some truth become plain to the attentive reader: for instance, that the relationship between the Red Army and the population were (at least in 1942) less idyllic than what the official histories would make us believe. Also, bits on the occasional incompetence and simple cowardice on the Soviet sides are often hinted (even if balanced by many narratives of Soviet heroics, of course). And no, the Germans in this book aren't your average dupes. The biggest surprise (if you're not familiar with this type of literature) may come from "politics" department. Not only you'll not get much the tirades so often hammered on the reader's throat in the Soviet general's memories, but you'll hardly find any straightforward "political" note at all - except from the token patriotic bit on the defence of the Motherland against the invaders. My theory is that in the 60's (when most of these type of text was written) it had become much safer to avoid completely the topic rather than deal with it in the wrong way. Even so, the effect is, in my view, a bit unrealitic: even if is probable that Communism wasn't so popular among Red Army soldiers, the 40's weren't the 90's, and it's more likely that a percentage of the Red Army personnel had some kind of strong belief on the Soviet system. Otherwise, you'll get the same surreal feeling of those German war memories where everyone is politically agnostic or even anti-nazi, and you end up not understanding how Hitler got elected in first instance. Is "On The Road To Stalingrad" realistic? Yes, if you take in account the age when was written. It's a literary masterpiece? No, but rarely a war memory is a conventionally "good" reading. And as a document to a woman's view on a topical (although still badly documented) XX century event, "On The Road To Stalingrad" is a must read.


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