Book Review of Krylova’s Soviet Women in Combat

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Book Review of Krylova’s Soviet Women in Combat by Josh Alper The Russian Revolution is rightly called a revolution. It resulted in a fundamental and radical change in all aspects of Russian, and then Soviet, life. One aspect of the Revolution that set lofty goals and resulted in determined policy revolved around female equality. Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, despite a genuine Socialist spirit and specific state laws, progress on female equality was limited and true gender equality lived only in state propaganda. Nevertheless, the millions of girls (and many boys) who grew up as the first Communist generation still embraced the Marxist/Socialist ideal of a genuine gender equality committed to Socialism, progress, and service to the revolutionary cause. With the advent of WWII and the struggle to defeat the Nazis, a subtle but powerful mini-revolution took place that reshaped the Soviet military, the archetype Soviet soldier, and the opportunities for female soldiers. All of these changes combine to inform the historical community, and students of Soviet studies in particular, that beyond the Stalin/Totalitarian lens lies a Revisionist interpretation offering a truer, more complex, and more rewarding look at the Soviet experiment. Specialist in Russian, Cultural, and Gender History, multi award winning historian, and current Professor of History at Duke University, Anna Krylova contributed Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front in 2010. This detailed and powerful work, written by an eminently qualified historian, is a clear and flowing narrative despite an overly academic and stilted introduction. Pulling from a wealth of effective and elucidating primary sources, Krylova certainly proved how WWII was an incubator for a long-term change in gender roles. One of Krylova’s main points throughout this engaging work was her
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