Death Steppe: A World War II Novel

 
9781508742401: Death Steppe: A World War II Novel

Merriam Press Historical Fiction HF11 (First Edition, 2015).

This World War II story, set in western Soviet Union during Germany’s retreat, follows the lives of a Russian war widow, a dissident, Christian, and black marketeer, as she serves as a medic on the front lines, and a disillusioned German lieutenant, a former professor and concentration camp officer, as he fights in a losing effort. After our heroine is forced into service as a navigator in a women’s air force regiment, flying plywood and canvas biplanes on harrowing night missions, she encounters the injured yet violent German when her plane crashes. Together they embark on a turbulent journey, first as enemies, later as lovers and disheartened deserters.

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Review:

KIRKUS REVIEWS:

A stirring historical novel that plumbs the depths of war for the possibilities of love.

Bruce (Voices in the Wind, 2015) sets her latest novel in the Soviet Union during World War II. Elena Nevskaya is a complex protagonist: a committed Communist, a devout Christian, and, despite her love of Russia, a political dissident who's contemptuous of Bolshevism. Snatched from university life to serve as a medic in a war that's already killed her husband and brother, she's quickly forced to confront the bleakness of her circumstances. She witnesses unspeakable carnage and struggles with her simmering hatred for German invaders: "Yes, I did want my country to destroy the Germans. Yes, I did want the injured to live. But at what cost to me?" Transferred to a hospital on the front, and crushed by disillusionment, she rescues a wounded Nazi clinging to life. Although moved by sympathy to help him, she's initially overwhelmed by disgust, seeing him as a personification of Nazi ideology. But Friedrich Halder turns out to be a university man, as well as a deserter who was conscripted into service in order to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. What improbably ensues is a mutual recognition of each other's humanity, a kind of truce, and then the kindling of a romance. For fans of historical fiction or romance, this is a deft combination of the two genres, written in a wise, often poetical prose. The overall tale is dark and catalogs the murky depths of human depravity, but despite the realistic grittiness of its portrayal of war, it's thankfully leavened by considerable doses of humor and hope. At its core, it's a story about an attempt to maintain one's humanity while witnessing, and even participating in, stark inhumanity. Elena and Friedrich fall in love, and in doing so, each concedes the other's value.

An epic portrayal of a romance born out of the rubble of World War II.--Kirkus Reviews

Online Book Club review:
The human debris of war is not solely comprisedof the slain. Fractured psyches, lacerated consciences, and ethical and moral paradoxes that fester and eat away at the made-in-His-image core like unseen gangrene are the invisible wreckage wrought upon the still-remaining, living human scraps of war's great meat grinder.

In Death Steppe: A World War II Novel, author Judy Bruce explores this motif in a sometimes raw, sometimes touching, but always unvarnished account of two unlikely people whose lives carom into one another as they ricochet off the random chaos of World War II.
Ms.Bruce's writing is good at the very least and striking at its best. The narrative moves the story along at a good pace; I was never bored, and often didn't want to put the book down. More than that, I was invested in these two pitiful people, battered and cracked by things they had seen and participated in, and I cared about what happened to them. The descriptions of battle are raw without being gratuitous, tender moments are sensitive without being maudlin, and the reader is never allowed to forget the claustrophobic horror of war and the unspeakable suffering it brings. The tone is one of cautious, desperate hope under a dark, ominous sky.

I am happy to give Death Steppe: A World War II Novel 4 out of 4 stars. It deserves no less. It is a touching, raw story that will pull you in from the very start and keep you reading until the last page. Suspense, good writing and storytelling, unforgettable imagery, and rich, complex characters combine to make this one of the better books I've read in a long time. This multi-faceted story could be enjoyed by readers who like historical fiction, romance, and action stories. My congratulations to Judy Bruce for pouring her obvious talents and insights into this book and creating a stirring, poignant, thought-provoking story.

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Book Description Createspace, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Merriam Press Historical Fiction HF11 (First Edition, 2015). This World War II story, set in western Soviet Union during Germany s retreat, follows the lives of a Russian war widow, a dissident, Christian, and black marketeer, as she serves as a medic on the front lines, and a disillusioned German lieutenant, a former professor and concentration camp officer, as he fights in a losing effort. After our heroine is forced into service as a navigator in a women s air force regiment, flying plywood and canvas biplanes on harrowing night missions, she encounters the injured yet violent German when her plane crashes. Together they embark on a turbulent journey, first as enemies, later as lovers and disheartened deserters. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781508742401

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Book Description Createspace, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Merriam Press Historical Fiction HF11 (First Edition, 2015). This World War II story, set in western Soviet Union during Germany s retreat, follows the lives of a Russian war widow, a dissident, Christian, and black marketeer, as she serves as a medic on the front lines, and a disillusioned German lieutenant, a former professor and concentration camp officer, as he fights in a losing effort. After our heroine is forced into service as a navigator in a women s air force regiment, flying plywood and canvas biplanes on harrowing night missions, she encounters the injured yet violent German when her plane crashes. Together they embark on a turbulent journey, first as enemies, later as lovers and disheartened deserters. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781508742401

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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Paperback. Book Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. 264 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.0in. x 0.7in.Merriam Press Historical Fiction HF11 (First Edition, 2015). This World War II novel takes place in 1944, during Germanys retreat from the western Soviet Union. The story follows the lives of a Russian war widow, Elena, a dissident, Christian, and black marketeer, as she serves as a medic on the front lines, and a disillusioned German lieutenant, Halder, a former professor and concentration camp officer, as he fights in a losing effort. In time, Elena and others, are forced into service as temporary navigators in an all-female regiment to the Red Army air force. After Elenas plane crashes, she finds the injured Halder from the squadron she helped bomb. As enemies, the injured Elena and Halder alternate between helping and nearly killing each other. Eventually, the desperate soldiers discover an unexpected bond. Together they embark on a turbulent journey as lovers and disheartened deserters. Death Steppe presents an unusual perspectivethe reluctant female soldier. Elena plays several roles as she saves, kills, loves, hates, and flees. The author was fascinated by her research on the Night Witches, Soviet women who flew canvas and plywood training planes (without parachutes) on night scouting and bombing missions. Halder is taken through the moral torture of an officer-in-training at Dachau, before he fails as a Nazi and is sent to the horror of the front lines, presumably to die. Both struggle with the notion of a loving God in a time of monstrous cruelty and loss. At its core, its a story about two people forced from their jobs and their families by governments they hate and fear into the sacrifices, the traumas, and the moral battles they face amid a war that kills 30 million people in western U. S. S. R. Within the war story is a tale of two unlikely lovers forced to create their own rules, their own solutions, their own versions of love, redemption, and escape. An important theme in the story refers to the struggle with reconciling war with ones religious beliefs. Elena and Halder question, plead, and pray to God as they walk the tightrope between life and death. So often, any misstep meant falling in to the chasm of death. Although they came from different backgroundsElena from clandestine Christianity, Halder from established Protestantismthey faced the similar perils and moments of faith and doubt. As they witness and fight through the horrors of war they ask where is God And they wonder how can you be a Christian in war The old saying states there are no atheists in foxholes. Elena and Halder face the same questions that would torment people of any faith or moral code. Pacifism is a belief for people to ascribe to in the safety of their homesit doesnt apply to those forced to fend for their lives. This story boils down to the search for humanity in the midst of brutality. This item ships from La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781508742401

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