This book contains a series of anecdotally-presented portraits of Soviet sacrifice and courage during the four years of War. When the immensely powerful German forces invaded on 22-June 1941, neither the Allies nor the Nazis believed that Russia could long endure. Hitler had stated at a conference of his generals that Russia was to be "annihilated", her cities and everyone within to be destroyed. No one expected the resolve of the people to resist and defend their land. Noted historian Albert Axell compiled many of these portraits of ordinary Soviet soldiers and their often extraordinary heroism from his personal interviews with veterans and/or their surviving families. Others derive from Western eye-witness sources and German military records. The end result is an apolitical collection, free from Soviet wartime hagiographics -- for the most part, that is. Included, notwithstanding, are the romanticized legends from frontline propaganda: teenaged partisan Zoya Kosmodem'yanskaya's patriotic exhortations following her unspeakable torture, and sniper Vasiliy Zaitsev's duel with the German master-shooter. But the majority of the narratives are straight-forward, unembellished recollections. Also featured are biographies of less famous but no less proficient snipers Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Fyodor Okhlopkov, and Nina Lobkovskaya. Here, too, are accounts of the defense of the Fortress of Brest, and anecdotes of civilian valor during the battle of Stalingrad and the blockade of Leningrad. Here are interviews with Nadya Popova, a pilot from an all-female bomber regiment; Alexei Mares'yev, a pilot who lost his legs but returned to fly with artificial limbs; and a few desperate aviators who survived "taran" (ramming) Luftwaffe planes. And here is the fate of Yakov Dzhugashvili, a POW disowned by his father, Josef Stalin. Among "Russia's Heroes" are representatives of a wide spectrum of Soviet citizens: Ukrainians, Georgians, Siberians, Eastern Asians, Cossack cavalrymen, and Jewish generals. As a daughter of a seaCaptain of the North Atlantic Convoys, I'm especially proud that Allied merchant mariners had been honored as Soviet heroes and are included in this book! In recent years many of the specific topics of Axell's research have been presented in greater depth, but "Russia's Heroes" provides a fast-paced and fascinating overall view of the human dimension on the Eastern Front.