The woman rolled slightly to lift the weight from her left side, slid her right hand into her jacket and tugged the bra strap to free her breast from the cleft between her upper arm and chest. Withdrawing her hand, she then squirmed into a more comfortable prone position and took up the slack of the weapon’s sling against her forearm, by repositioning her left elbow.
Aiming down at a target could cause a careless sharpshooter to underestimate the distance. However, she knew the exact range to each point in her arc of fire, stretching from the corner of Stilovic Street, formed by two sides of the high-rise apartment block, and at the other extreme, bounded by the arched doorway of the play centre.
On her first day on this sector of Sarajevo, the initial shot to test the range had bisected the head of a stray dog scavenging close to the roundabout. Four hours later, her assessment of the range was confirmed when she made the first kill of her assignment. The old woman was the beginning of a chain that included two other women, a middle-aged man and a French Legionnaire wearing a flak jacket. She brought him down with a headshot.
Not all of her shots killed instantaneously; she had seen movement after some strikes, but she was confident that the wounded would not get up. A hit with the Dragunov was invariably fatal. The tearing effect of the slug was horrendous, and the resultant haemorrhaging was massive, to say nothing of the shock caused by a strike anywhere on the human body. Read the rest of this entry »
(an article by Greta Van der Rol)
I recently read a post in M.M Bennetts’s excellent and recommended blog entitled No, tell me what really happened. She points out that historians have so often tended to build upon the opinions of others, believed the official written records without subjecting them to empirical scrutiny.
MM Bennetts specialises in the Napoleonic period and in her blog she has several times mentioned pioneering work done recently in finding out the truth about Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign. Napoleon, it seems, was as much a master of spin as the Nazis and the Soviets. Going back to the source, especially when dealing with totalitarian regimes, is a good thing to do.Admittedly, it takes a certain dedication to work through births, deaths and marriages or the records of exhumed mass burial sites. This is, of course, why we read historical fiction – the facts interpreted as literature, without the boring, mucky bits.
Sometimes, though, we can have both – a well-written eye-witness account of an event which is both a ‘source’ document and a compelling read. One such is The Ring of Nine, a diary written by a man who survived the siege of Leningrad in WW2. Everybody has heard of the siege of Stalingrad but I confess even though I specialised in Nazi Germany at university, I knew very little about the siege of Leningrad, which has now reverted to its pre-Soviet name, St Petersburg. The people of Leningrad defended their city for twenty-nine months from surrounding German forces, suffering daily bombardment, starvation rations and the exceptionally bitter winter of 1941/42. Throughout the ordeal, Maria Kuroshchepova‘s grandfather recorded events and his feelings in a diary. Read the rest of this entry »