Wednesday, June 24, 2009


On our trip across the Atlantic, I read The Sniper by James Riordan, a fictionalized "slice of life" about a teen-aged sniper trained--among a number of other young people--by the Russian Army to help turn the tide of the Nazi invasion that reached Stalingrad in August 1942 and whose invading force was finally and officially defeated with the surrender and capture of Field-Marshall Friedrich Von Paulus on January 31, 1943.

Any story like that ought to be of interest, I imagine, to anyone who may be concerned about survival . . . especially during times of war. But this story includes an additional twist that made the book all the more interesting to me and, I hope, to my readers. Especially in light of the ongoing push by what appears to be an ever-more-influential circle of "leaders" in the Christian homeschool marketplace who advocate that women ought not to be prepared for any occupation beyond homemaking [a fine and most worthy occupation, but hardly the only worthy goal to which women can properly--biblically--aspire!] and who most ardently advocate the idea that men only ought to participate in military exploits [the participation of women is a blot on men's virtue].

You see, the sniper under question--the real person and not only the fictional character--was a young woman . . . actually, a Russian-American woman who, according to separate resources I have consulted, returned to Russia in order to be near her grandparents (for more about her, see also this and this [search for female snipers and read from there.

As I have found is too often the case with historical fiction, it appears Riordan gives Chernova a few too many heroic opportunities in the book. It appears she did not, in the end, lead the group that took Paulus captive. But there is no question, she was one of many (some say a million or more) Russian women who turned the tide of war.

I think those who say a woman's place is and ought to be only in the home may need to read more about people like Chernova--a true hero [or, if we must, heroine] for her people.


I should probably note: Riordan's book includes more typos than I am used to with professionally published books. It is not as smooth and elegant as one might prefer. At places I get the feeling the author was seeking to appeal to a younger children's audience.

I still enjoyed the book.

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