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Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII
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Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
In 1941, as Nazi hordes swept east into the Soviet Union, a desperte call went out for women to join the Russian air force. The result—three entire regiments of women pilots and bombers—was a phenomenon unmatched in World II. Through interviews with these courageous pilots, the author uncovers their story. Soon to be a major motion picture.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 1981)
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Kate Lynn
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aviation, favorites
Bruce Myles has done a wonderful job weaving all of the interviews he conducted together to make a gripping portrait of WWII Russia.

Before coming across this work, I never knew women flew for Russia during the second war! It is a historically important story and should be more commonly known!
Lewis Weinstein
Aug 09, 2013 marked it as to-read
There was an amazing obituary of Russian flyer Nadia Popova in a recent Economist. She was one of the "night witches" and just died at age 91. See the obit at ...

Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A thrilling account of Russia's women pilots in World War II. And really, in this country, who knew? The author conducted research and had personal interviews with several of the women themselves. Prior to the war Russian girls and young women participated in many private flying clubs, and in the early days of battle women were involved in training men in piloting, navigation and parachute jumping. Finally the word came that they, too, would be allowed to fly in battle, and three regiments of wo ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book 38 of my #2017readingchallenge is Bruce Myles' Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in World War II. It is incredibly powerful, emotional, terrifying and fucking badass. These young women enlisted after learning to fly at their hometown clubs, and they became national heroes. And when I say young I mean 17, 18, 20 year olds, fighting Nazis midair. They are SO inspirational.

This book was written in 1981 and is written by a man, so parts are a little sexist, but the crux
Leslie Jenison
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Here is another book that I love about flying because it is about a little-known group of Russian women pilots. Unlike the WASPs (for whom I have an enormous amount of respect, and many of these women lost their lives pulling live targets behind their planes for military student pilots to shoot at) these women flew combat missions. They were deemed more "expendable" than their male counterparts so were relegated to flying night missions. The enemy named them the "Night Witches", so good were the ...more
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cyndie Todd
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: WWII history fans, feminists, pilots
Recommended to Cyndie by: patron of the library I used to work at
I'm not much on war history, but this is a good book about a little know bit of history. I never would have read it but for someone thrusting it into my hand and expecting me to tell him what I thought about it. I couldn't avoid it, so I just read it and got it over with. Not a waste of time in the end.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this interesting read about an extraordinary group of women, but I read "A Dance with Death" afterward and a few of the women mentioned that much of this was fictionalized or exaggerated. So, while it was an entertaining and quick read, I'd take this work with a grain of salt.
May 19, 2012 rated it liked it
The writing isn't particularly good, but the stories about these women are so amazing that it is definitely worth reading. I decided to read this after going to yet another airplane museum with J and seeing one of the PO-2s that the Russian women flew during WWII.
Louis Barbier
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story Night Witches by author Bruce Myles is a powerful account of what a few Russian women who had learned to fly in aviation clubs throughout Russia accomplished when the call went out for female volunteer aviators. Even though Nazi Germany had signed a peace treaty with Russia, which would guarantee peaceful coexistence Adolph Hitler broke it in a heartbeat by declaring all-out war on the world and Russia. Adolph Hitler wanted to dominate the world so at 3:15 a.m. on June 22, 1941 Operat ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing research in this book - I was really blown away by all the many details Myles got and the way he used them to emphasize the humanity and individuality of these women. Story lines got a bit cumbersome at times, but I think only because Myles was working with such great resources and so many great stories to tell.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
A WWII group biography about an incredible group of young Russian women pilots that fought against Nazis.
Kay Pierce
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting read about the women who flew for the Soviet Union against German forces during World War II. Definitely a part of history I did not learn about in school.
At some point, somewhere along the line, I’d come to the arrogant assumption that there wasn’t much more in the modern history bracket that could interest me. There had been various brushes with WWII history in secondary school, specifically looking at Britain and the rise of Nazi Germany, which I’d happily researched around when particular areas caught my attention… Then my nonfiction historical reading skipped off to the distant past as I fell in love with archaeology and the Upper Palaeolithi ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A captivating insight into the lives of Russian women pilots during WWII, based on interviews with those who survived.

A general account of their many fights is interspersed with entertaining shenaningangs (involving at times alcohol, inappropriate and flowery additions to their fighting gear and, once, a wolf cub), love stories, as well as horrors of war. Said horrors thankfully do not overwhelm the whole narrative, but rather remind the reader of the dangers civilians and soldiers faced in the
Bob H
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book originally published in 1981 and had the benefit of first-person sources: the surviving women who had served and who provided many anecdotes, personal accounts amid the ongoing story of the women's bomber and fighter regiments. The stories of the PO-2 regiment -- biplanes engaged in night-intruder raids and enemy-territory drops -- are hair-raising. The other two women's regiments, flying Yak-1 fighters and Pe-2 attack bombers, proved to be brave and capable pilots, with several women ...more
Christine Van Heertum
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The true story of Russian women pilots during WWII. When Germany invaded Russia and all men had been called to the front, Russian women massively answered « yes » when they heard that volunteers were needed to save the country. The courses that might have lasted up to 2 years had been compressed to 6 months and they learned to fly at night, to navigate with only the most rudimentary of instruments and without any radio communication with the ground. The women were smaller than men and needed cus ...more
Matt Wisecarver
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Russian WW2 era history
As was similar with books such as A Higher Call, Night Witches delivers a fun, intriguing read. This is mostly delivered by a fair balance of historical data combined with interviews to make a beautiful tale that is fun for anyone to read, regardless on your thoughts of history. This book entails the tales of Russia's women pilots of World War 2, or, as they would be nicknamed by the Germans, Night Witches. The book gives a great attention to the sexism that at first existed for these women pilo ...more
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely incredible book, well-researched and taken from the first-hand accounts of the remaining pilots. It tells an interesting, empowering, and heart-wrenching story.

The only negative is that it is hard to follow at times - it's told in a linear fashion and it can be difficult to remember who is who.

The story of these women, however, is incredible. It thoroughly discusses how they trained, made mistakes, succeeded, loved, failed, lost... their incredible talent, skill, bravery,
Chris Pramas
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent book about the women's regiments of the Soviet Air Force during WWII. The title refers to the night bombers, who flew unarmed biplanes over German lines and bombed them in the darkness, but the book covers all the different regiments (night bombers, day bombers, and fighters). The pilots include the only two female fighter aces in history, both of whom flew Yaks over Stalingrad during that epic battle. Many of the stories come first hand from survivors the author interviewed in the 80s ...more
Olivia Waite
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, flying, war, feminism
The prose is a little plain, but sometimes the best thing a writer can do with a story like this is to get out of its way. I cannot believe they have not made a movie or three of this. There's romance, and fighting, and tragedy, and one of the greatest underdog stories I've ever seen drawn from real life. Much of the passages are drawn from witness accounts, and it shows, both in the spareness and the incredibly telling details.
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
2015 Reading Challenge - A nonfiction book. I liked this book. I have never read anything from the Russian side of the war and it was very interesting to see things from their point of view. I was also really struck by how strong these women were. They never deviated from their purpose and only seemed to grow more passionate about their role in protecting their homeland as the war went on.
Shannon Cahill
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book. It is nonfiction, but tells the stories of these brave women with so much detail and feeling that parts of it read like a great adventure novel. It made me feel like I was right there in the cockpit with some of these fascinating characters. This book was recommended by A Mighty Girl and I can see why.
Erin Leslie
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this book for a research paper on female pilots of the red army, but when I started reading it I couldn't stop! Thanks to this book, Lily Litvak is my hero. This book is very well written and a new unique cover in my bookcase and one of my favorites.
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a book club choice.

I think this is the first time I've learned about WWII from the Russian point of view. It was very interesting, although I had some trouble keeping the women straight as he profiled so many of them chronologically.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book about some very courageous young ladies. My second time reading and it is hard to find.
I bought it years ago when I worked for a small bookstore in NEb.
Academy Chicago
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The movie rights to this book have been optioned hundreds of times. At one point it was supposed to star Geena Davis, Wynnona Rider, and every '90s female actress in Hollywood.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting, fascinating, and well written look at the young women Soviet aviators of WWII.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this non-fiction tale to be very interesting and easy to read. I was completely swept up in the lives of these women, and I had been previously unaware of their role in WWII.
Meredith Hilt
Aug 08, 2014 rated it liked it
A guide at Seattle's Museum of Flight recommended this book about the Russian women who flew night bombing missions during WWII. Fascinating women, though the storytelling is a bit dry.
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