A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II

384p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2019. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062453013.
Gr 9 Up—From Wein, author of Code Name Verity, comes a nonfiction account of the women pilots of the Soviet Union. Starting prior to World War II, Wein describes how aviation became a hobby and passion for many young women in the Soviet Union. When World War II started, life under the Soviet system meant women could serve as pilots, theoretically equal to men, in the war effort. Wein provides a meticulously detailed account of Marina Raskova's Aviation Regiments: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. These three were largely staffed with women volunteers and fought on the frontlines of the war. The author provides an intimate look at the pilots' lives, both personal and military, as they work to defeat the Nazis. Likewise, Wein does not shy away from describing the difficult and often terrifying aspects of living under Stalin, including descriptions of man-made famines and the Great Purge. Some readers may have difficulty keeping track of all of the figures, but Raskova often acts as an anchor to assist readers in following the numerous and complex accounts.
VERDICT Recommend this richly detailed work of nonfiction to fans of Monica Hesse and Wein's historical fiction.

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