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Set in Russia in the year 1916, In the Trenches is based on the true story of the author’s life during WWI. Fifteen-year-old Zina runs away from home to serve on the Eastern Front as a soldier in the Russian army. Tatiana L. Dubinskaya was a schoolgirl who ran away from home and served on the Eastern Front from 1916 17 as a soldier in the Russian army during World War I. She later became a writer and in 1930 recounted her personal experiences as a soldier in an autobiographical novel, called In the Trenches, published in Moscow. In 1936 she revised and republished a shorter version of her story under a new title, Machine Gunner. Both versions of her novel had much in common. Most of the characters and much of the storyline remained essentially the same, but there were a few notable exceptions, which included the addition of more revolutionary zeal to the main characters in Machine Gunner, which likely gave it greater appeal in Stalinist Russia. This revised edition of In the Trenches has been edited using select portions from Machine Gunner to provide greater clarity and context to Dubinskaya’s original story. In the Trenches received critical acclaim when first published, being favourably compared with Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 classic World War I novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which portrayed the stark realism of life in the trenches through the eyes of a young German soldier. Dubinskaya’s character, Zinaida “Zina” Kramskaya, had similar experiences. In the Trenches was significant as it marked the first major account of a female soldier from World War I to be published in Russia. In April 1930 the United Press International reported that an American publisher had acquired the rights for an English edition of In the Trenches, but it never went into print. Russian censorship may have stopped the English edition. AUTHOR: Tatiana L. Dubinskaya (1902-90) served in the Russian army until 1917, then became a soldier and a nurse for the Red Army during the Russian Civil War (1917-22). After the civil war, she worked as a typist for the Red Army in Moscow and later became a writer. The Communist Party sent her to Tajikistan in 1931, and on her return to Moscow, she became active with the Union of Soviet Writers, earning a reputation as a Communist Party informant.
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