A Thousand Sisters
The gripping true story of the only women to fly in combat in World War II—from Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name VerityIn the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war.

A Thousand Sisters Details

TitleA Thousand Sisters
Author
ReleaseJan 22nd, 2019
PublisherBalzer + Bray
ISBN-139780062453044
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, War, World War II

A Thousand Sisters Review

  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    An engaging and sharply written story about the Soviet Night Witches of World War II. I'm not a war history fan, so battle stuff here did nothing for me, but all of the social aspects of their stories were absolutely engrossing for me. I'm thrilled this is the trim size it is, too, making it look like an adult nonfiction title or YA fiction title, so chances are teens will pick it up. Images are a nice addition, as are the side bars with additional information. Wein was the right writer for this An engaging and sharply written story about the Soviet Night Witches of World War II. I'm not a war history fan, so battle stuff here did nothing for me, but all of the social aspects of their stories were absolutely engrossing for me. I'm thrilled this is the trim size it is, too, making it look like an adult nonfiction title or YA fiction title, so chances are teens will pick it up. Images are a nice addition, as are the side bars with additional information. Wein was the right writer for this topic, and her passion for female pilots shines through. An outstanding reference section and notes about sources, about translation, and about the weaknesses in research are themselves great reading, too.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    Not many people are familiar with the brave Night Witches, a group of pilots who flew countless bombing missions during WWII. This is most likely due to these reasons - they were all women, Russian and they were told not to discuss what they did during the war and the pivotal role they played. Stalin needed pilots and agreed to a risky plan to train a select group of young women who would fly into enemy Germany and run nightly bombing missions. The work was difficult, required great aviation ski Not many people are familiar with the brave Night Witches, a group of pilots who flew countless bombing missions during WWII. This is most likely due to these reasons - they were all women, Russian and they were told not to discuss what they did during the war and the pivotal role they played. Stalin needed pilots and agreed to a risky plan to train a select group of young women who would fly into enemy Germany and run nightly bombing missions. The work was difficult, required great aviation skill as many times they could add fog to the already dangerous night flying and was extremely dangerous. Stalin was also clear on something else - you could not be captured nor could you retreat or your family would suffer the consequences. As with all of Elizabeth Wein's books you are completely immersed into what these almost unheard of inexperienced women went through. In a world filled with and run by men, the 588th Night Bomber Regiment outperformed their male counterparts without complaint. This makes a great companion book to Kate Quinn's THE HUNTRESS coming out in February. My thanks to the publisher for the advance read.
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  • Ellie J.
    January 1, 1970
    5/5 stars Recommended for people who like: WWII, history, women's stories, perseverance, aviation history, Soviet history, feminism, other books by Elizabeth Wein, narrative nonfictionI got this book as an ARC from a contest, I was not required or asked to write a review.I already knew a bit about the Night Witches due to my interest in WWII and flying, however, it's still relatively difficult to learn about them. This is, in part, due to the fact that after WWII the USSR had a pretty tight 5/5 stars Recommended for people who like: WWII, history, women's stories, perseverance, aviation history, Soviet history, feminism, other books by Elizabeth Wein, narrative nonfictionI got this book as an ARC from a contest, I was not required or asked to write a review.I already knew a bit about the Night Witches due to my interest in WWII and flying, however, it's still relatively difficult to learn about them. This is, in part, due to the fact that after WWII the USSR had a pretty tight grip on what got out of its borders, the second part is explained by Wein in the book--the women were told not to discuss their roles in the war. I was quite pleased when I discovered this book was coming out, by one of my favorite authors no less! It did not disappoint.The book starts by discussing Marina Raskova and her rise into 1) becoming a pilot, and 2) becoming the founder of the Night Witches. It's interesting to read about Marina growing up in a Russia that was unsettled by the politics of the time, yet still managing to persevere and become a female pilot in what was still, even in the 'gender equal' Russia/USSR, a man's world. From what Wein writes about her, Marina seemed to not only have been influential for female pilots and the aviation industry of Russia, but was also influential in politics.After the bit about Marina and how the politics and society of Russia changed to allow so many young women into aviation, Wein got deep into the sections of the 588th Bomber Regiment, the 46th Bomber Regiment, and the 586th Fighter Regiment. Despite the 'equality' of the USSR in giving girls the chance to fly, the women in the regiments still had to fight to join the air force. Of course, all of the girls who signed up wanted to fly, practically speaking, it wasn't possible to assign all of them to be pilots. Some became pilots, others became navigators, and some never reached the air at all, performing ground-crew tasks such as loading bombs, repairing the planes, and refueling.Despite any disappointments in assignment, the women in the regiments were all very connected and, describing themselves as sisters and family. If there was a loss--of which there were many--it was felt by all in the regiment. I really liked how Wein made sure to include this in the story. It would've been very easy to simply tell the story of the women and only focus on the war side of the story, instead, she manages to weave in the emotional side between descriptions of bombings, training exercises, and losses. These women were afraid together, afraid for each other, they loved each other, and it comes through not just in the moments when Wein points it out, but also in the moments directed elsewhere. She is also good at pointing out that the relationships of the women with one another were heavily influenced by the USSR's--and the time's--views on heterosexuality, and that it is entirely possible some of the women loved each other romantically and not just platonically, but couldn't be open about it due to the beliefs about homosexual relationships in Russia both during WWII and now. A Thousand Sisters was well-researched and well-written. The story has a good balance between the war side of the story and the emotional one. It was also nice to see the 'inserts' that discussed things mentioned in the book, or how things were going for women in aviation abroad. I was very happy with how the book read and the amount of information I got about the Night Witches that was previously unknown--or at least unknown to me.
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a reader and fan of the history of the Night Witches since I found a battered hardback in my middle school library about the only all-women aviation combat unit in World War II. Since then, it's been hard finding information on them, but in the four years or so there have been several YA and adult fiction novels written about these remarkable women.So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw that Elizabeth Wein—one of my favorite YA historical fiction authors and champion of women in I've been a reader and fan of the history of the Night Witches since I found a battered hardback in my middle school library about the only all-women aviation combat unit in World War II. Since then, it's been hard finding information on them, but in the four years or so there have been several YA and adult fiction novels written about these remarkable women.So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw that Elizabeth Wein—one of my favorite YA historical fiction authors and champion of women in aviation—was writing a nonfiction YA novel on my favorites!!This is a comprehensive look at the women (and men) of Marina Raskova's regiments (there were three: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th/125th Guards Regiment of Day Bombers, and the 588th/46th Taman Guards/Night Witches Night Bomber Regiment—the first two integrated men into their structures, but the Night Witches stayed all-women for the duration) and the ups and downs, deaths and successes, of the brutal fight on the Eastern Front.In addition, Wein places the conflict on the Eastern Front in World War II in context with that was happening with the rest of the war, and provides a good lead-in to gender equality (well, equality on paper) in the Soviet Union versus the rest of the world. This contextualization of the Night Witches helped place them in time, both geographically and socially, with more familiar storylines like the Nazi bombing of London in 1940, D-Day and the war in the pacific.Most importantly to this book was the inclusion of her source notes, which were many—although she notes that her inability to read Russian limited what she had access too.The writing is crisp, clear and riveting. While it is written for a YA audience, it does not shy away from gore, but the gore is not used as a shock tactic but merely to show the brutality that is war. While there were some clunky metaphors spread throughout the book (e.g., the use of wind as a metaphor for change and shifting norms), there were many parallels to today's political environment, for example:Fascism, which we associate so strongly with the Nazi Party, is a form of government rooted in nationalism, in which democracy gives way to a dictator.An unsubtle jab at the current rise in nationalism in um, certain places.But this isn't just a rah-rah rallying cry for the amaze-ballness of the Soviet Union. In addition to the triumphs in women's equality in aviation, education and other areas, Wein also points out the destruction and devastation the leaders of the Soviet Union brought on their own people, either through collectivization and starvation, the fear of exile, torture or murder, and the extreme desire to conform to avoid being reported on by a "friend" or neighbor.Overall, this was an enlightening look at both the early days of the Soviet Union, women in aviation, the "Great Patriotic War," and of course, Marina's Regiments of women aviators.I received this ARC from the publisher and Edelweiss for an honest review.
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  • Olivia
    January 1, 1970
    Quite interesting but kind of long.
  • Jennifer Waters
    January 1, 1970
    Loved the personal stories interwoven with the overall stories of the three regiments, both put in context with the rest of the war and what other countries thought about the use of women in war. A wonderful overview!
  • Trisha Perry
    January 1, 1970
    This is more of a non fiction book of the famous women that made up the Night Witches Regiment of the Soviet Union, one of three regiments of women you still don't hear much about on the history channel or in history books but made such a big difference in the war they fought and died in. Most of the Night Witches were just teens trying to help their country. Elizabeth Wein is a master at telling the story of those whose story might have been lost to time and death, and this is no different, the This is more of a non fiction book of the famous women that made up the Night Witches Regiment of the Soviet Union, one of three regiments of women you still don't hear much about on the history channel or in history books but made such a big difference in the war they fought and died in. Most of the Night Witches were just teens trying to help their country. Elizabeth Wein is a master at telling the story of those whose story might have been lost to time and death, and this is no different, the story of the Night Witches is one that needs to be shouted out and not forgotten, that those women were heroes for their country and should be remembered as such and for what women can do. It was a sisterhood, a bond, that can't be broken.This is a wonderful book of heroism and a unbreakable bond. It shows what heart really is during a trying and awful time. Elizabeth Wein has another great book on her hands and we hope she never stops writing about these wonder women from both sides.
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  • Berna
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth Wein never disappoints.
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    This was really good! It's not too in depth, so it'll definitely work well for younger audiences, but it's still a thorough look at how the push for these regiments started, their efforts through the war, and what happened after. It doesn't shy away from grisly moments or death, either. And the sourcing material in the back is incredibly well done, for those who want to learn more. I will say, it's kind of hard to keep track of all the different women, but that's mostly because so many of them h This was really good! It's not too in depth, so it'll definitely work well for younger audiences, but it's still a thorough look at how the push for these regiments started, their efforts through the war, and what happened after. It doesn't shy away from grisly moments or death, either. And the sourcing material in the back is incredibly well done, for those who want to learn more. I will say, it's kind of hard to keep track of all the different women, but that's mostly because so many of them had very similar names. Wein helped combat that by giving certain details about them and bringing them up each time they were mentioned.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Young Adult Books CentralEven after almost 70 years, World War II remains a topic of fascination for middle grade readers, mainly because there are so many untold stories. One area that is ripe for exploration in the US is the activities of the Russian military during this time. It's sometimes hard to remember, considering all that went on in the latter half of the twentieth century, that Russia was on the Allied side of the war.It's also hard to remember that in the 1920s and 30 ARC provided by Young Adult Books CentralEven after almost 70 years, World War II remains a topic of fascination for middle grade readers, mainly because there are so many untold stories. One area that is ripe for exploration in the US is the activities of the Russian military during this time. It's sometimes hard to remember, considering all that went on in the latter half of the twentieth century, that Russia was on the Allied side of the war.It's also hard to remember that in the 1920s and 30s, women were making a lot of progress in many occupations. I loved the statistic that in 1941, nearly one third of all Soviet pilots were female! This mirrors the strides women made in the US workforce before the end of the war returned women all over the world to the kitchen, despite the fact that they had proven that they could do "men's" work.A Thousand Sisters tells the story of Soviet Airwomen in great detail, drawing on the experiences of many women pilots, some of whom survived the war, and many of whom did not. From the aviation experiences of pilots who ended up being in the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, to the set up of the Soviet military and the experiences of the women after the war, there is a wealth of detail about missions, living conditions, and the trajectory of the war in general, as it affected these brave women.My favorite chapter was entitled "Life is Life" and discusses the difficulties and deprivations that these women faced. Since so few women were in the military, they had to endure wearing men's boots and underwear, and supplies were so scarce that often had to wash with water from puddles. While my own grandparents often complained about rationing, I know that they never had to eat wall paper paste or boiled shoes! These are excellent details to make the more quotidianal horrors of war come to life. While this is a rather lengthy book, it would be perfect for National History Day projects on the role of women along with Mary Cronk Farrell's Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp and and is a perfect companion for explaining the details of Kathryn Lasky's The Night Witches (2017).
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  • K.
    January 1, 1970
    Trigger warnings: war, plane crash, death, fire.I was reeeeeeeeeally intrigued to read this given how much I've loved Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. Plus, I've always wanted to learn more about the Night Witches. This was fascinating from start to finish. The experiences of these women were both engrossing and horrifying. They spent years as fighter pilots being total badasses but they did it with shitty food, almost no sleep, and in men's uniforms - right down to their boots and underwea Trigger warnings: war, plane crash, death, fire.I was reeeeeeeeeally intrigued to read this given how much I've loved Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. Plus, I've always wanted to learn more about the Night Witches. This was fascinating from start to finish. The experiences of these women were both engrossing and horrifying. They spent years as fighter pilots being total badasses but they did it with shitty food, almost no sleep, and in men's uniforms - right down to their boots and underwear. Also, did you know that women in the British military got women's sized boots in 2012 and women in the US military got women's sized boots in 2015? WTF, yo. Anyway, this was great. The end.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This is Elizabeth Wein at her Elizabeth Wein-est. Turns out she's as great at writing non-fiction about female pilots as she is at writing fiction about them. This is young adult non-fiction, so it doesn't delve deeply into the women's lives outside of their service during WWII, but it sure paints a great picture of what they did and how hard they worked. She also includes a little about the atmosphere in Russia during WWII, which helps explain why these women worked so hard and were so hardcore This is Elizabeth Wein at her Elizabeth Wein-est. Turns out she's as great at writing non-fiction about female pilots as she is at writing fiction about them. This is young adult non-fiction, so it doesn't delve deeply into the women's lives outside of their service during WWII, but it sure paints a great picture of what they did and how hard they worked. She also includes a little about the atmosphere in Russia during WWII, which helps explain why these women worked so hard and were so hardcore when no other country in the world had women pilots that saw battle. I think it'd be hard to recommend to a lot of teens (getting most kids to read anything historical--even if it's fiction, is like pulling teeth), but as an adult, I really enjoyed it.
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  • Deidre Butkus
    January 1, 1970
    Typically when I read WWII historical books, I read about Germany’s involvement. This book focuses on Russia’s involvement in the war. From page one, this book hooked me. It’s a nonfiction book but reads like a fiction book. Elizabeth Wein has done her homework, beautifully weaving the stories of these very brave women into the history of the war. Sometimes during the reading of this book, I found myself imagining myself in these situations and wondering how I’d react, which is amazing for an au Typically when I read WWII historical books, I read about Germany’s involvement. This book focuses on Russia’s involvement in the war. From page one, this book hooked me. It’s a nonfiction book but reads like a fiction book. Elizabeth Wein has done her homework, beautifully weaving the stories of these very brave women into the history of the war. Sometimes during the reading of this book, I found myself imagining myself in these situations and wondering how I’d react, which is amazing for an author to get their reads to do. I’d highly recommend this book if you want to see a different take on the war or even just to see how badass these women were - true frontrunners of their time!
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThe non-fiction version of Lasky's The Night Witches. A very informative look at how the Russian women flew and fought during WWII. I had an ARC, so many of the pictures were not yet finalized. It was fascinating how Russia was advanced beyond all other nations in regards to treating women equally to men in terms of training them how to fly planes, etc. But it was horrifying the conditions that they lived in.A fascinating read although there were a few times that it dragged a bit. (mayb 3.5 starsThe non-fiction version of Lasky's The Night Witches. A very informative look at how the Russian women flew and fought during WWII. I had an ARC, so many of the pictures were not yet finalized. It was fascinating how Russia was advanced beyond all other nations in regards to treating women equally to men in terms of training them how to fly planes, etc. But it was horrifying the conditions that they lived in.A fascinating read although there were a few times that it dragged a bit. (maybe that was just me though?)
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  • Britt
    January 1, 1970
    When I say a book about female aviators in World War II, you say Elizabeth Wein. When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be fiction, however, I was caught off guard when I realized that this book is a biography about several amazing Russian women who served as fighter pilots in WWII. I won't be able to name them all but I am happy to know that they existed, killed Nazis, and paved the way for more gender equality.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    I have never enjoyed reading stories of battles, so that accounts for the 4, rather than 5, star rating. One of the things I particularly liked about this book was that I learned not only about the Soviet Union during WWII, but also during WWI and the interim. And about the United States and Great Britain. Who knew the Soviet Union was more of a feminist nation that the west? Certainly not me. Or that the U.S. didn't have combat boots until 2015. Yes, 2015. That's not a typo.
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  • Kimberly Larsen
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent and informative book. In the Soviet Union, nearly 1/3 of fighter pilots were women at the time. (Contrast that with the U.S. situation..Amelia Earhart was an anomoly...most women weren't given the opportunity to be pilots). A challenging read but enjoyable (narrative NF) and super interesting. Great source notes.
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  • Lucy Meeker
    January 1, 1970
    Great book. I love reading about how women contributed to the war effort. So much of war is told through the eyes and lens of men, so this book was very refreshing to read and truly inspirational. It was a fantastic read and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
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  • Saundra
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, this!
  • Levynn
    January 1, 1970
    It was informative, and fairly well written.
  • viktoria
    January 1, 1970
    So, this means we're going to get a Night Witches novel by Elizabeth Wein soon, right?
  • Mattie Richards
    January 1, 1970
    y a l l read this
  • Rose
    January 1, 1970
    **Disclaimer** I won this ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. This doesn't chance my review, but I thought I should mention it. I wasn't required to write this review, it just seemed polite to do so after getting a free book.★★★.5 Stars actually. One day Goodreads will give us half stars...hopefully. While definitely aimed at younger readers, Wein's skill with young adult fiction carries over into the world of nonfiction, giving even an adult reader like myself an interesting and enjoyable history le **Disclaimer** I won this ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. This doesn't chance my review, but I thought I should mention it. I wasn't required to write this review, it just seemed polite to do so after getting a free book.★★★.5 Stars actually. One day Goodreads will give us half stars...hopefully. While definitely aimed at younger readers, Wein's skill with young adult fiction carries over into the world of nonfiction, giving even an adult reader like myself an interesting and enjoyable history lesson about the triumphs and struggles of the Night Witches of WWII.A Thousand Sisters is a solid, well researched, easy to read book that I'd be happy to recommend.
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  • Ruthsic
    January 1, 1970
    Meticulously researched and detailed, A Thousand Sisters is about the thousand or so airwomen in the Russian Red Army that were the only combat force with women in it, during WWII. Since it was Wein's book, writer of the beautifully written Code Name Verity, I was especially excited to read this book. However, it did not live up to my expectations as an engaging book, albeit non-fiction, about the brave and legendary women of Russia. A couple of chapters in, I realized the format of the book was Meticulously researched and detailed, A Thousand Sisters is about the thousand or so airwomen in the Russian Red Army that were the only combat force with women in it, during WWII. Since it was Wein's book, writer of the beautifully written Code Name Verity, I was especially excited to read this book. However, it did not live up to my expectations as an engaging book, albeit non-fiction, about the brave and legendary women of Russia. A couple of chapters in, I realized the format of the book was not entirely conducive to constant reading. The sheer bombardment of details, names and places was enough to overwhelm me. I barely kept a few names in my mind, and trudged along through the book, as it recounted the varied experiences of the women, their general childhood during the Lenin and Stalin era, and the wartime regulations that curtailed and freed them. It recounted specific experiences for a lot of women, and highlights of their individual career paths, but the problem with how Wein arranged the events by theme and not always chronology meant that the reader is frequently jumping back and forth between different women and times. It would have probably been more interesting had it focused on a few women exclusively and written in others around them, instead of just being this woman, that contingent, that force. I did like the fact that it gave a general background to their situation, and made constant comparisons to the treatment of airwomen in Western countries. Some missions were recounted, which made for exciting stories in between all the information being thrown at you. As a person who is checking it out as a starting point for research, it will probably make for a good choice; it might just bore a leisure reader like me. I tried out the audiobook early on in the book, and it was a much smoother read on audio than in print. (Which just goes to say, don't knock audiobooks!)Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Balzer + Bray, via Edelweiss.
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  • ⋟Kimari⋞
    January 1, 1970
    You might also enjoy:Nonfiction✱ The Unwomanly Face of War✱ Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation HistoryFiction✱ Among the Red Stars✱ Code Name Verity series
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