by Helen & Vladimir Pozner Keyssar ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 1, 1990
An affecting, albeit uneven, collection of oral histories from American and Soviet veterans of WW II (or the Great Patriotic War, as it's still called in the USSR). The handsomely illustrated compilation originated with an interactive TV program broadcast on both sides of the Iron Curtain to commemorate the 40th anniversary of V-E Day. Keyssar (Communications/Univ. of California, San Diego) and the bestselling Pozner (Parting with Illusions, p. 34) tracked down participants as well as other individuals who did not get on the air; they conducted further interviews and supplied connective commentary (whose propaganda quotient promises to affront diehard Cold Warriors). The reminiscences of notables (Elliott Roosevelt, Gheorghi Arbatov) coexist with those of lesser lights in a way that, at its best, evokes not only the horror and tedium of a savage conflict but also the fragile ties that bound unlikely allies. Included, for example, are the bleak recollections of Stalingrad survivors; a Russian woman who flew combat missions with a squadron the Germans called the Night Witches; and ranking American officers mistrustful of their Soviet counterparts, plus happier memories from front-line soldiers present at the celebrated meeting on the Elbe. While some Soviets touch without dwelling on the prickly Stalin's less edifying strategems (e.g., his 1939 pact with the Nazis) and constant demands, Keyssar and Pozner are at pains to stress the cooperative role played by the USSR and the appalling casualties it suffered on the long road to victory. In consequence, eyewitnesses' unsparing accounts of battlefield carnage clash with the observations of authors whose often reproachful views or; at best, oddly coupled comrades in arms seem to have been filtered through rose-colored spectacles. Wishful, well-intentioned revisionism apart, a consistently moving and powerful testament. The text features a wealth of stunning photographs (150 b&w), plus a generous selection of contemporary posters, magazine covers, movie stills, and other graphics.
Pub Date: May 1, 1990
Page Count: -
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1990
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