Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ten top eyewitness accounts of 20th-century history

Charles Emmerson is an Australian-born writer and historian. He studied modern history at Oxford University and international relations in Paris. He is the author of The Future History of the Arctic and 1913: The World Before the Great War.

Emmerson's latest book is Crucible: The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World 1917-24.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top eyewitness accounts of 20th-century history, including:
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Alexievich is the meta-witness to the Soviet experience, eyewitness to the eyewitnesses. She turns memories into folk epics and gives human scale to the awful hugeness of the “Great Patriotic War”. Here are the stories of women often drowned by what the war had become in the 1980s USSR, the stale trumpet-blare of Communist legitimacy. Then she did the same for Chernobyl, the starting point of the Soviet Union’s unravelling, as important to the century’s end as its foundation was to its start. Literature is “news that stays news”, wrote Ezra Pound. This is what Alexievich has done for her eyewitnesses: imbuing their testimony with the power of literature, thus ensuring it remains relevant for all time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue