This book is an autobiography about Yevgeni’s own experience during WWII as a sniper for the Soviet army during the defense of Leningrad as well as on other fronts. The majority of the book does cover the Leningrad defense and how Yevgeni became a sniper and about some of his experiences. The thing that needs to be clearly emphasized with this book is that it is written by Yevgeni himself, who was a staunch member of the Communist party and in many regards, his memoirs here are a major propaganda piece. Because of the way it is written, the book is very difficult to read with its over the top praise and descriptions of actions performed by the most heroic Soviet defenders fighting off the villainous scum. This style of writing gets very old and there were times it made for some entertaining discussion. In fact, it becomes difficult to know where the history ends and the propaganda begins. This did not come as a total surprise as Martin Pegler warns the reader of this very thing in his introduction to the book. But still, it became old and tiresome and made the book difficult to finish.
Conversely, if the book is looked at for its example of how the USSR used this type of story telling propaganda to control the narrative of the war, then there is some value to the book. It is for this reason we gave the book a rating of a single star as there is value in understand the aspect of history itself.
Additionally, Yevgeni’s achievements must not be discounted, as he was credited with 324 kills during the war. Even if the Soviet kill numbers deserve some scrutiny, it is still indicative of significant accomplishments of Yevgeni as a sniper. Again, it is worth understanding why they were not as stringent on verifying their kills for the propaganda value of high numbers. Some of that comes out in the book as you read about the elaborate ceremonies that were conducted for their snipers with large kill numbers.
There are some insights into some sniping operations in the book, but the details are shallow and there are not many of them. The book was written several decades after the war, so some leniency is given to the author with the loss of details over time. But if you are looking for a good historical account of personal experiences as a sniper during World War 2, we would point you else where, this one is tough to read.
Sniper Central Rating: