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Stalingrad snipers were legends in their time. Their patience, keen eyes, and ruthlessness helped win the Battle of Stalingrad and turn the tide of the Second World War. James Riordan visited Stalingrad in 1959 and several times later.

In 2006 he met Tania Chernova, whose story was so fascinating that Riordan made her the heroine of this compelling novel. The year is 1942. Legendary sniper Vasily Zaitsev, who killed a record 242 Nazis, recruits Tania to seek out and shoot German officers. At first, she finds it almost impossible to kill. But when she discovers that her beloved grandparents, along with many of her friends, have been brutally murdered by invading Nazis, she vows to “break them like sticks.” Following her capture and daredevil escape, she leads a handpicked unit on what seems like a suicide mission — to seize Field Marshall Paulus, the Commander-in-Chief of the invading army. But Tania is no ordinary marksman. Author Riordan’s dramatic narrative and wealth of period detail make this story of one of the lesser-known episodes in World War II history a gripping one.