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In The Damned and the Dead. Ellis is concerned with constructed memories of the War in Soviet and Russian literature. It is an ambitious and thorough survey of the works of writers from the 1940s to the 1990s, from Grossman and Simonov to Astafyev, Bykov and Vladimov, and it is superb in showing that, censorship notwithstanding, there has never been just one clear and uniform view of the War. Yet one of the central themes of these works, Ellis finds, is the untenable dilemma of the Red Army soldier: “How is it possible to wage a just war against Hitler and on behalf of Stalin and his regime?”
Reviewed in Russian Life: Sep/Oct 2011