Secondhand Time The Last Of The Soviets
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Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich invents a new genre of narrative non-fiction as she writes the life stories of housewives, artists, party workers, students, soldiers, traders, living through a time of political upheaval -- the fall of the Soviet Union and the two decades that followed it.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The magnum opus and latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—a symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY • LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Wall Street Journal • NPR • Financial Times • Kirkus Reviews When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions—a history of the soul.” Alexievich’s distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation. In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world. A magnificent tapestry of the sorrows and triumphs of the human spirit woven by a master, Secondhand Time tells the stories that together make up the true history of a nation. “Through the voices of those who confided in her,” The Nation writes, “Alexievich tells us about human nature, about our dreams, our choices, about good and evil—in a word, about ourselves.” Praise for Svetlana Alexievich and Secondhand Time “The nonfiction volume that has done the most to deepen the emotional understanding of Russia during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union of late is Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history Secondhand Time.”—David Remnick, The New Yorker “Like the greatest works of fiction, Secondhand Time is a comprehensive and unflinching exploration of the human condition. . . . In its scope and wisdom, Secondhand Time is comparable to War and Peace.”—The Wall Street Journal “Already hailed as a masterpiece across Europe, Secondhand Time is an intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to capitalism in the 1990s plunged it into existential crisis.”—The New York Times “This is the kind of history, otherwise almost unacknowledged by today’s dictatorships, that matters.”—The Christian Science Monitor “In this spellbinding book, Svetlana Alexievich orchestrates a rich symphony of Russian voices telling their stories of love and death, joy and sorrow, as they try to make sense of the twentieth century.”—J. M. Coetzee
"A masterpiece" (The Guardian) from the Nobel Prize-winning writer, an oral history of children's experiences in World War II across Russia NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing "a new kind of literary genre," describing her work as "a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul." Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive style, Last Witnesses is Alexievich's collection of the memories of those who were children during World War II. They had sometimes been soldiers as well as witnesses, and their generation grew up with the trauma of the war deeply embedded--a trauma that would change the course of the Russian nation. Collectively, this symphony of children's stories, filled with the everyday details of life in combat, reveals an altogether unprecedented view of the war. Alexievich gives voice to those whose memories have been lost in the official narratives, uncovering a powerful, hidden history from the personal and private experiences of individuals. Translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, Last Witnesses is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war. Praise for Last Witnesses "There is a special sort of clear-eyed humility to [Alexievich's] reporting."--The Guardian "A bracing reminder of the enduring power of the written word to testify to pain like no other medium. . . . Children survive, they grow up, and they do not forget. They are the first and last witnesses."--The New Republic "A profound triumph."--The Big Issue "[Alexievich] excavates and briefly gives prominence to demolished lives and eradicated communities. . . . It is impossible not to turn the page, impossible not to wonder whom we next might meet, impossible not to think differently about children caught in conflict."--The Washington Post
What did it mean to grow up in the Soviet Union during the Second World War? In the late 1970s, Svetlana Alexievich started interviewing people who had experienced war as children, the generation that survived and had to live with the trauma that would forever change the course of the Russian nation. With remarkable care and empathy, Alexievich gives voice to those whose stories are lost in the official narratives, uncovering a powerful, hidden history of one of the most important events of the twentieth century. Published to great acclaim in the Soviet Union in 1985 and now available in English for the first time, this masterpiece offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human consequences of the war - and an extraordinary chronicle of the Russian soul.
A long-awaited English translation of the groundbreaking oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia—from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The Guardian • NPR • The Economist • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • Kirkus Reviews For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.” In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women—more than a million in total—were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten. Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war—the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories. Translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war. THE WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” “A landmark.”—Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century “An astonishing book, harrowing and life-affirming . . . It deserves the widest possible readership.”—Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train “Alexievich has gained probably the world’s deepest, most eloquent understanding of the post-Soviet condition. . . . [She] has consistently chronicled that which has been intentionally forgotten.”—Masha Gessen, National Book Award–winning author of The Future Is History
An in-depth exploration of the legacy of Joseph Stalin on the former Soviet Union, by the author of King Leopold’s Ghost. Although some twenty million people died during Stalin’s reign of terror, only with the advent of glasnost did Russians begin to confront their memories of that time. In 1991, Adam Hochschild spent nearly six months in Russia talking to gulag survivors, retired concentration camp guards, and countless others. The result is a riveting evocation of a country still haunted by the ghost of Stalin. A New York Times Notable Book “An important contribution to our awareness of the former Soviet Union’s harrowing past and unsettling present.”—Los Angeles Times “A perceptive, intelligent book demonstrating that the significance of the gulag transcends the confines of one country and one generation.”—New York Times Book Review “This probing and sensitive book…casts striking new light upon the Russian past and present.”—Washington Post Book World “The voices [Hochschild] has recorded, the relics he has seen, are haunting—and the raw material of a terrific book.”—David Remnick, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lenin’s Tomb “No other work has brought home the full horror of this monstrous dictator’s rule than this close-up account.”—Daniel Schorr, former senior news analyst, National Public Radio
From 1979 to 1989 a million Soviet troops engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed 50,000 casualties - and the youth and humanity of many tens of thousands more. In Zinky Boys journalist Svetlana Alexievich gives voice to the tragic history of the Afghanistan War. What emerges is a story that is shocking in its brutality and revelatory in its similarities to the American experience in Vietnam - a resemblance that Larry Heinemann describes movingly in his introduction to the book, providing American readers with an often uncomfortably intimate connection to a war that may have seemed very remote to us. The Soviet dead were shipped back in sealed zinc coffins (hence the term "Zinky Boys"), while the state denied the very existence of the conflict; even today the radically altered Soviet society continues to reject the memory of the "Soviet Vietnam". Creating controversy and outrage when it was first published in the USSR - it was called by reviewers there a "slanderous piece of fantasy" and part of a "hysterical chorus of malign attacks" - Zinky Boys presents the candid and affecting testimony of the officers and grunts, nurses and prostitutes, mothers, sons, and daughters who describe the war and its lasting effects. Svetlana Alexievich has snatched from the memory hole the truth of the Afghanistan War: the beauty of the country and the savage Army bullying, the killing and the mutilation, the profusion of Western goods, the shame and shattered lives of returned veterans. Zinky Boys offers a unique, harrowing, and unforgettably powerful insight into the realities of war and the turbulence of Soviet life today.