Edward's Reviews > Boys in Zinc

Boys in Zinc by Svetlana Alexievich
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really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir-letters, non-fiction, russia-ukraine, translated, own, 4-star, svetlana-alexievich

From the Notebooks

--Boys in Zinc

Post Mortem
'Boys in Zinc' on Trial
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 22, 2017 – Shelved
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: biography-memoir-letters
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: non-fiction
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: russia-ukraine
April 22, 2017 – Shelved as: translated
May 2, 2017 – Shelved as: own
September 12, 2017 – Shelved as: 4-star
April 9, 2018 – Shelved as: svetlana-alexievich

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Edward "I still have the same question that is there in my book: who are we? Why can they do anything they like with us? Send a mother a zinc coffin, and then persuade her to sue the writer who wrote about how she couldn't even kiss her son one last time and how she washed the zinc coffin with herbs and stroked it . . . Who are we?
Love for a man with a gun has been hammered into us, incorporated in our genes; it has been with us since we were children. It is as if we grew up during the Great Patriotic War, even those of us who were born decades after it. And our vision is regulated so that even after the crimes of the revolutionary Cheka units, the Stalinist blocking detachments that fired on their own men attempting to retreat and the prison camps, after the recent events in Vilnius, Baku and Tbilisi, after Kabul and Kandahar, we still imagine a man with a gun as a soldier in 1945, the soldier of the Victory. So many books have been written about war, so many weapons have been produced by human hands and minds, that the idea of killing has become normal. The finest minds ponder with childish stubbornness whether man has the right to kill animals, but we are able to justify war with barely a doubt, or by hastily trumping up a political ideal. Turn on the television in the evening and you will see the secret exultation with which we carry heroes to the graveyard. In Georgia, in Abkhazia, in Tajikistan . . . And once again we are making patriotic monuments of their graves, not religious memorials . . .
It is impossible to take away from men their most beloved . . . their most precious toy -- war -- with impunity. It is a myth . . . It is an ancient instinct . . . But I hate war and the very idea that one human being has a right to the life of another human being.
Recently a priest told me about a front-line veteran of the Great Patriotic War, already an old man, who brought his military decorations to the church. 'Yes,' he said, 'I killed fascists. I defended the Homeland. But even so, before I die, I want to repent for having killed.' And he left his medals in the church, not in a museum . . . But we are raised in war museums . . ."

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