Remarkable Collection of World War II Reporting by Vasily Grossman Appears

By: E&P Staff

A new collection of partly unpublished newspaper reportage by famed novelist Vasily Grossman may be the most unusual, and likely one of the best, such collections in recent years.

The book, modestly titled “A Writer at War,” covers the years from August 1941 to May 1945, when he covered the war–from the German invasion to the occupation of Berlin–for the newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Red Army, Krasnaya Zvezda, or “Red Star.” Meanwhile, he had to leave his mother behind in the Ukraine, where she was killed, as a Jew.

Some of his articles, however, never appeared. In a full-length review in today’s New York Times, William Grimes observes, “Much of the material that filled Grossman’s notebooks never made it into print, because it was either politically sensitive or, in the view of the censors, too disturbing for Soviet citizens to read.”

Grimes notes that the British historian Antony Beevor and his research assistant, Luba Vingradova, “have mined this rich seam of gold, translating and editing generous excerpts from the notebooks (made available by Grossman’s descendants) and stitching together a coherent narrative from Grossman’s completed articles, his letters and the memoirs of contemporaries, notably his editor at Krasnaya Zvezda.”

The result, Grimes writes, “is a first-rate volume of war reporting that belongs with the best work of writers like Ernie Pyle, A. J. Liebling and John Hersey.”

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