The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad

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At what point does a book that you think is a historical book about the history of a specific event become more of a literary analysis of the writing? That is the struggle that I faced when I read this most recent book by Alexis Peri, where we get an inside look at the civilians who lived in Leningrad during the siege of World War II. I thought the author’s use of surviving diaries from the people who lived in the city would give a compressed history of what it was like. Instead, it is a bit of a mishmash of that. Some chapters do focus on the history, but a good portion of the book instead is deep philosophical thinking and literary analysis of the diary entries, including a full chapter focusing on two diaries and the usage of “I,” or the lack thereof. I know Princeton is promoting this book to a more general audience–you can find it at the local Barnes & Noble–but that is a mistake because this is a highly technical book. I thought we would get the average person’s perspective, but instead we get something more technical and hard to follow.

Reviewed By:

Author Alexis Peri
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Harvard University Press
Publish Date 2017-Jan-02
ISBN 9780674971554 Buy this Book
Issue April 2017
Category History


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