Wings, Women and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat
University Press of Kansas Modern War Studies 2001
312 pages, 60 photographs, 6 maps
List Price: $29.95


"Pennington conveys wholly fresh, vivid, often unique and revealing insights drawn from a formidable and fascinating array of evidence. Much of her book is deeply moving. It is impossible not to be stirred, even appalled, by the fate of some of these women." --John Erickson, author of
The Road to Stalingrad

"Pennington's meticulous research, dogged investigative skills, and clear writing make this book an instant classic in its field and a virtual model for future authors who write on the subject of women in war."--David M. Glantz, coauthor of
The Battle of Kursk

“Pennington offers a rich tapestry woven with first class research. Throughout the book this research, primarily undertaken in Russia, utilizes manuscripts, letters, official publications, unit histories, newspapers, speeches, published memoirs and diaries, but also many interviews with male and female WWII veteran aviators. This adds significantly to the value of the book and to our understanding of the experiences of these women aviators. The interviews also permit us a rare intimacy with heroes....Pennington’s Wings, Women, & War triumphs because it is a great read. Good primary research reproduced in an entertaining style with an underpinning theoretical framework offers incontrovertible proof that the barriers that deny women equal responsibility in the defense of their nations have little to do with human ability or psychological and physiological competence, and everything to do with cultural constraints.” (Kathryn Spurling, Australian Defence Force Academy, for History Net/H-Minerva, 2002) read the full review

“Of all the work done on Soviet women aviators in World War II, Pennington’s is the most comprehensive, combining extensive research, interviews, and critical analysis. This work will be greatly valuable to and appreciated by the professional historian of World War II, women in war, and Soviet social history, and by the general reader interested in detailed explanation and human-interest stories of people at war. This is an enjoyable read and a noteworthy addition to Soviet and World War II history.” (Roger Reese, Texas A&M University,
American Historical Review, February 2003) read more

“Pennington also unearthed some interesting information about the political intrigues of the Stalin era....this book provides an exciting new window into an area of Soviet military history that has received very little attention in the west. Pennington’s portrayals of these committed, competent, and courageous female aviators really transcends gender and says more about hard work and love of the motherland.” (
Sally W. Stoecker, Johns Hopkins University, Slavic Review, Spring 2003)

“In the author’s own words, this book lies ‘at the intersection of Russian history, military history and women’s history.’ In truth, this remarkable work transcends all three genres....Whatever one’s beliefs regarding the role of women in aerial combat, this book offers food for thought.” (Dr. Richard R. Muller, Maxwell AFB, Alabama,
Air & Space Power Journal, Winter 2003) read the full review

“The women who fought for their motherland in the Great Patriotic War have waited a long time for a scholarly history of their experiences. Reina Pennington's thorough and meticulously researched account of Soviet airwomen in combat, based on extensive interviews with veterans and painstaking archival research, is the first monograph on the subject, joining Kazimiera J. Cottam's pioneering reference works . . . But Pennington's book is much more than a tribute to heroines . . . Equally interesting arc Pennington's accounts of the many men who successfully adjusted their views on women in combat based on their experiences with their female comrades . . . In sum,
Wings, Women, & War is a significant contribution to the history of women in combat. There is no doubt that it will become a standard in the field—and the starting point for future studies of the role of Soviet women in World War II. ” (Denise J. Youngblood, University of Vermont, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 66, No. 3, July 2002)

“Your book is priceless I think. It is one of the few books I have read on the reading list at Norwich that I simply could not put down. You gave a face to and personified the warriors, something which is often lost with theoreticians. I have had the greatest time telling my wife and friends about the antics of the Russian women pilots. I laughed my fool head off with the story about Evgeniia Prokhorova and the mice in her plane. The accounts of Liliia Litviak; who could not admire that diminutive lady and her courage and fortitude! I felt like I was there with them. Your book is the type of academic endeavor that is important for our political and military leadership to examine because it exposes the human side of the warrior experience. I hope it is. I am glad I have read it.” (Thomas W. Keyser, Flourtown, PA, personal email)