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review 2017-06-20 01:03
Academic but interesting group that does not get much coverage.
The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 - Rober... The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 - Robert Chao Romero

In light of immigration remaining a hot topic, I finally decided to purchase this book that talks about what it says on the tin: the Chinese in Mexico. A few years ago I read a couple of articles (on the Huffington Post and NPR I think) about the presence of Chinese people in Mexico and how that group came to be. I've heard of Chinese people coming to the US but what drew them to Mexico?


Turns out the immigration laws and the Chinese Exclusion Act in the US led to "collateral damage" of sorts, where Chinese people (mostly men) settled in Mexico instead. The book looks at how and why these Chinese immigrants came to Mexico, some intentionally, others because they could not get into the US. How they built businesses, how they managed movement between Mexico, the US and China, how they dealt with Sinophobia, how they integrated with the locals, etc.


Overall it was fascinating. A mostly unintended consequence (perhaps) of the US immigration laws led to the creation of this community that was interesting to learn about. It was also sad to see that the same experiences of immigrants happen to the Chinese there: some were resented for their business success, their children were considered not Mexican, eventually a group of them would be driven out of one part of Mexico. It's a story that we have seen happening before and it happens again.



I also wish the author had brought up the book to more "modern" times. As the cover says, it's from about 1882-1940. The book was published in 2011 so I was disappointed not to see more about present day or at least a little closer to it. He does have some thoughts on how to integrate discussing a group like these Chinese-Mexicans into college courses and so I hope there will be more work/articles about them.


That said, the book is dry. The topic kept me interested because I really wanted to learn more after reading those articles but this book would very much be a text for a college program. I wish I could have picked it up at the library or found it as a bargain buy but even the used versions that I could find were not all that much cheaper. But I wanted to know and so I'm glad I had a chance to read it. 

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review 2016-11-14 14:23
An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore
An Address in Amsterdam: A Novel - Mary Dingee Fillmore
I have read quite a few stories about World War II, but most were about events that took place in Germany or England. This was a very different one for me, taking place in Amsterdam. A place where the Jewish population was almost wiped out by the end of WWII. The people of Amsterdam never thought the war would come to them. They had lived peacefully for years and hadn't gotten involved in WWII. They thought it was pass them by.
But as we know, it did not just pass them by. Rachel Klein, a young Jewish woman, finds herself caught up in all of it. As she watches the Nazi's take over her city and country, she knows she can't stand by and watch it happen. When her friends and neighbors are hauled away to placed unknown to never be heard from again, she turns from an innocent girl without many cares, into one of the best messengers with the resistance. 
Putting her life on the line countless times to help fellow Jews and those that support them, the time comes where it's too dangerous for her to continue and she goes into hiding with her family.
This was an incredibly uplifting story of how one person can make a difference in other's lives. But it was also an incredibly sad tale of one of the worst times in human history. Well written, and from what I can tell, well researched, An Address in Amsterdam was a chilling look into human nature and history that we should never forget.
Source: www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/11/an-address-in-amsterdam-by-mary-dingee.html
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text 2016-06-19 00:55
I've read 22 pages....
Night and Day - Virginia Woolf,Julia Briggs

I remember few years ago when I've just started to read English literature. I was an undergraduate student and I had modern literature as a subject. I was never impressed by the "great authors," and no matter how many times our teachers praised Woolf, Joyce or T.S Eliot, I was unimpressed, partly because it is in my skeptical nature to doubt, and partly because I was not open to worldwide literature so I didn’t think that there could be anything great in a woman called Woolf. I read Mrs Dalloway mostly to attempt understanding what the whole fuss is is about. I didn’t like it. It was nonsense even though the previous week we learnt about stream of consciousness and that it was part of the novel. I rejected it as “meh” and read Twilight instead. (Don’t judge me, I was but a foolish gal). Anyway I didn’t read after that anything by Woolf. I always kept her within a great distance and refused to go there. The other day, last week, I was bored and decided to watch the Hours, a movie semibiographical that promises to tell us more about Woolf and her person… I just decided that it was time to confront her again out of curiosity if anything. I tried finding Mrs. Dalloway to reread it, as the movie is centered on that novel as well, but I couldn’t find it. And instead opted for Night and Day.

It is true that I’m only 22 pages in the novel, but there is something that already strikes me as captivating. The first pages are always decisive for me. I either continue the work or drop it right away, and I am positive that I will not be disappointed. Earlier, I was trying to wonder why suddenly, I’m started to like Woolf’s prose, and it seems that for 3 years that I’ve been studying about various things, I realize that words of wisdom, that took me weeks to absorb are here… in the first 22 pages of Night and Day….


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review 2015-06-07 17:01
One of the darkest moments in the history of the "City of Lights."
Nazi Paris: The History of an Occupation, 1940-1944 - Allan Mitchell

Though often attacked and frequently the center of social and political turmoil, Paris has rarely been subject to occupying powers. In this respect, the four-year German occupation of Paris during World War II represents an unusual episode in the history of the metropolis, one that remains controversial to this day. Though numerous books have been written dealing aspects of this time, Alan Mitchell's book is the first to take advantage of French archival collections heretofore inaccessible due to their sensitive nature. This forms the great strength of the book and also its great weakness, as Mitchell provides not a comprehensive examination of Paris during the Nazi years but a narrower study of the German administration of Paris.

This is a history that is more complicated than it might seem, as the Germans established a regime of overlapping jurisdictions that often worked at cross-purposes with each other. One of the greatest strengths of Mitchell's account is his effort to disentangle this to show how it worked. His method of doing so is to divide the Occupation years into three periods, roughly corresponding to the establishment of the Occupation, the tightening of German control, and the effort to hold on as it was increasingly evident that Germany would lose the war. Within this approach Mitchell divides Occupation policy into descriptions of official administration and security efforts, propaganda, economic policy, and the harassment and discrimination of the Jews. Through it all Mitchell shows that the Germans' "model occupation," was anything but, with policy often riven by political infighting and the competing demands of governance and winning the ongoing war. Occasionally Mitchell loses focus, as his study of Paris can blur into a larger study of occupation policy in France itself. This is a minor complaint, however, given the perhaps inevitable intertwining of the two, and it does nothing to detract from the value of Mitchell's study of one of the darkest moments in the history of the "City of Lights." 

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review 2015-04-18 20:16
When Britain Saved the West
When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940 - Robin Prior

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley
in exchange for an honest review. 


1940 - Dunkirk, then the Battle of Britain. When the year opened, Chamberlain was still PM, by the time it closed Churchill had replaced him and appeasement was a dirty word.


This book is not of course aimed at the professional historian, but for the ordinary person who considers herself something of an expert on WW2 (as a result of her grandmother's stories and, more recently, all the novels she has read set in that period!) it is an eye-opener.


I had never realised just how close Britain came to following France, "appeasing" Hitler, and allowing the invasion to take place uncontested. If Churchill had not taken the reins, that is exactly what would have happened. Throughout most of 1940, the appeasers (Chamberlain until his death in September, Halifax, Butler) kept talking to the Italians (and through them to Hitler) behind Churchill's back. And meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, Roosevelt was showing no interest in helping Britain, merely stipulating that if (and he meant "when") Britain capitulated the British Navy should not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Germans. Churchill's response to this was that no capitulation would ever occur under him, and that the appeasers who replaced him if things got too desperate would be seeking the best possible terms from the Germans so presumably the Navy would of course be handed over intact. In the end, it was Hitler who declared war on the US, not the other way about. (I never knew that!) If Hitler had limited himself to incorporating the whole of Europe, including the UK but excluding the USSR, into the Third Reich - which is what appeared to be his aim in 1940 when Britain, with the support of Canada and other countries of the British Empire, stood up to him and the Battle of Britain was fought, he might well have achieved this objective. But when the island nation of Britain with its powerful navy and its ring of radar stations proved almost impossible to either invade or bomb into submission, he turned his attention to the USSR. And the USA. Quite mad, of course. Worse than Napoleon, who lost half a million men in Russia before facing the inevitable (slow-but-sure!) response from across the Channel. At least the Germans don't consider Hitler a national hero, as the French do Napoleon!


There are chapters, like the one recounting the sequence of events at Dunkirk, where the amount of detail seems unnecessary and I found myself skipping pages, but all in all, this was a very enjoyable and very memorable read.

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