Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War by Svetlana Alexievich Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War

Winner of the Nobel Prize: “For her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” —Swedish Academy, Nobel Prize citation

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. Creating controversy and outrage when it was first pub

Winner of the Nobel Prize: “For her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” —Swedish Academy, Nobel Prize citation

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. 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. What emerges is a story that is shocking in its brutality and revelatory in its similarities to the American experience in Vietnam. 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. Svetlana Alexievich brings us the truth of the Soviet-Afghan 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. The introduction has been omitted due to rights issues.
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    Hadrian

    This is the second book by Alexievich I’ve read, and it’s also so depressing as to be almost unreadable. The title, Zinky Boys, comes from the zinc coffins the soldiers came home in.

    The introduction stresses the comparisons between the American war in Vietnam. Both times, soldiers came home to a war which others felt was a mistake, both had ‘high-tech’ forces against a ferocious resistance, both led to unscrupulous sadism against the civilian population, both countries underwent a crisis of ide

    The introduction stresses the comparisons between the American war in Vietnam. Both times, soldiers came home to a war which others felt was a mistake, both had ‘high-tech’ forces against a ferocious resistance, both led to unscrupulous sadism against the civilian population, both countries underwent a crisis of identity over what came next. But that isn’t quite accurate – for one, the Soviets had a tighter grip on the news media than the U.S. ever did until about 1990. It’s not as different or striking as the Chernobyl book was, but Chernobyl was a class of disaster all on its own. There are enough parallels to draw with some other war in some other place far from home. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Chechnya, Ukraine.

    The stories and interviews are invariably gruesome, a routine of drudgery and filth, a rotten and festering emotional wound. The women talk about their own glimpses of horror and the almost continuous sexual harassment from their bosses. The stories reach back to the home front. Mothers, fathers, and widows. The mothers gather around the cemetery and talk about their children as if they were still alive. The idealism and propaganda have shattered, the lie which gave the war meaning has vanished.

    There are also a very rare touches on perverse sense of humor that veterans tend to have. There is one story about some who drive all over the sides of the road, howling with laughter as they don’t have to worry about landmines there. Most often they try and find other veterans, as they’re the only other ones who understand.

    This is a book which has continual relevance, so long as nations continue to blunder into imperial adventures.
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