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Mass Market Paperback Through the Burning Steppe: A Memoir of Wartime Russia, 1942-1943 Book

ISBN: 1573228559

ISBN13: 9781573228558

Through the Burning Steppe: A Memoir of Wartime Russia, 1942-1943

Elena Kozhina was just eight years old when the Germans laid siege to Leningrad in 1941. Evacuated to a no-man's-land in the heart of the Russian steppe, she watched her family perish around her-and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

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Through the Burning Steppe Book Review

Throughout history people have had to endure extremely difficult times due to war. After surviving these times, literature is written to inform the world about what war can bring to humanity. Elena Kozhina wrote the memoir Through the Burning Steppe: A Memoir of Wartime Russia 1942-1943 after her survival, in Russia, of World War Two. This memoir describes Elena and her mother's life while living in a small hut in the Russian steppe. This time in their lives is harsh, yet with strength from each other they survive trough the death of their family, lack of food, and German troops. Kozhina accurately demonstrates to the reader that the hardships of war question the morality of human beings. Elena's childhood comprised war and conflict. Elena lived in Leningrad with her parents, brother, sister, and grandmother in a moderate-sized house. Although her family wasn't the wealthiest in the city, they lived a pleasing life with food and shelter. She was only eight years old when her family is forced to leave Leningrad after the German soldiers arrive at the city. Elena's father is sent to the front to fight while the rest of the family is put in a train and sent to the north. The experience in the train is a horrifying one that left shocking and terrifying memories for Elena. Before arriving at the steppe, Elena's brother and grandmother have already died. Although this is an extremely hard truth for Elena to accept, she is too weak to mourn. When Elena, her mother, and sister arrive at the steppe they are forced to live in a small hut with two rooms and two other families, in the village of Kuschevka. Shortly after, Elena's sister becomes sick with diphtheria or angina and dies in her mother's arms. The rest of their time in the steppe is spent working and surviving. Each day, Elena and her mother aim for two things: to avoid the German troops and find enough food for that day. Elena is taught extremely powerful lessons by life and her mother. In 1943, the Russian troops finally regain Kuschevka. Although she still has no permanent house and has lost part of her family, Elena feels a freedom that she has never felt before. "The feelings of freedom and safety, which I was experiencing for the first, yes, the first time in my life brought uncontrollable exhilaration" (Kozhina 84). Throughout the rest of the memoir, Elena describes her love for the steppe and how it helps her heal and forget the terrible memories that the war gives to her. Elena comes to the conclusion that "beauty will save the world" (Kozhina 151). The beauty around the steppe is what serves as a getaway from the horrifying times that keep coming back to Elena's head. Elena's mother serves as the person who guides her out of the dead end and gives her hope. Elena faces all the hardships that war can bring throughout her stay in Kuschevka. Kozhina educates the reader about the Second World War by describing the moral questions that Elena and her mother face. This theme is e

A Gem - On Many Levels

Elena Kozhina's Through the Burning Steppe: A Wartime Memoir is so much more than a highly compelling narrative of the horrors and heroism experienced by a young Russian girl and her mother during World War II. It is also a revealing glimpse into the realities of life in the Soviet Union, not just during the war, but from its earliest years to its final decade. It is a chronicle of a young person's growing literary, artistic and cultural awareness. And it is, ultimately, a timeless story - not simply of good and evil, or of simple joys amid enormous tragedy, but also of human frailties and strengths, of ruthlessness and compassion, of islands of clarity in a sea of complexity. This gem of a book packs volumes of interest - and of insight - into its fewer than 200 beautifully written pages. I recommend it highly.
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