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review 2016-12-01 21:07
Out today
Lindell's List: Saving American and British Women at Ravensbrück - Peter Hore

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. People always talk about the need to remember World War II, implying, perhaps correctly, that society is in danger of forgetting the deeds of the greatest generation. Yet, the truth is, that much of what the Greatest Generation did, we didn’t need to forgot because we were never told about the deeds to begin with. This isn’t so much a charge against the various school systems, though it could be. Schools do teach about the Second World War and the Holocaust, if anything the Korean war is more glossed over. Students, however, are not really taught about most aspects of the War. Certain key details get left out. Like, for instance, Ravensbruck prison. Historians are doing their best to remedy that, but there seems to be some issues. Part of this, as always, is Hollywood that portrays any woman who does something during the war as using sex as part of it. While this was true of some women (and some of men), it couldn’t have been true of every woman. The second issue is the question of sources – women not talking about or downplaying what they did because of the time. This is something that several writers, most recently Anne - - - have mentioned in their books. Peter Hore is another in much needed list of writers who his trying to bring the forgotten history to light. Hore’s book details the war time activities of Mary Lindell, who composed a list of British and American prisoners in Ravensbruck and petitioned successfully for their freedom. Lindell has been written about before, perhaps most recently in Helms’ work on Ravensbruck. Part of Hore’s book also seems to be an attempt to present alternate view of Lindell than that which appeared in other works. He does make Lindell into more than a work on player, though to say that he makes her likable would be an overstatement. It should be noted however, that Lindell’s pushy behavior which can make her unlikable was undoubted what saved her and others’ lives. Hore does an excellent job of bring Lindell out of the shadows, and to a degree de-romanticizing her. While Hore does this to a great degree, he does at times seem to be a little overcome by admiration for his subject. At times, he slips and does to other women who worked with Lindell what he accuses other writers of doing to Lindell – repeating of gossip that may or may not be true or simply a comment or two about the woman’s looks. Hore is hardly the only writer to be guilty of this charge, and he does it far less than most. It is also important to note that he does make a clear distinction between rumor and fact. Hore’s book is a welcome addition to the volumes about women and heroes in wartime.

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review 2016-11-09 17:26
Out on the 22
War Diaries, 1939–1945 - Astrid Lindgren,Sarah Death

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


Like most young girls, my introduction to Lindgren was via the Pippi Longstocking books. I have to admit, though, I prefer Ronia the Robber’s Daughter. I’m not sure why. Pippi has the horse after all. Despite my love for Pippi and Ronia, I do not know much about Lindgren’s personal life. The War Diaries, covering the years 1949-1945, go some way to correct that oversight.

The ARC I read notes that the diaries were a combination of newspaper clippings and Lindgren’s own entries. The ARC does not include the clippings, but in some cases, provides summaries, but the clippings are largely absent. This is somewhat understandable considering that they too would have to be translated. Still, the absence is felt in some ways, mostly because at time Lindgren is writing in response to them and the historical context would be a little welcome for the American reader. Even someone who has a good general knowledge of the Second World War will look up a few things that she mentions.

This criticism does not mean that the diaries are not worth reading because they are. It isn’t just because the war diaries cover the period of Lindgren’s work on Pippi Longstocking but because they give another perspective to the war. Lindgren is writing as a Swede whose life is affected by the war, but no way near the way it affected those that lived in the Nazi controlled countries or even in parts of London. There are fears of food shortages, but Lindgren does seem to live in a time, if not quite pretty, then not that of shortage either.

Yet, the diaries do contain a dose of fear of what could come and what is happening. Lindgren reports rumors as they come be they from the European mainland or the British Isles. What also comes across quite clearly is her anger at Hitler and those in power for the destruction of civilization. This almost seems like an over the top statement, but it isn’t, not really.

The diaries are not simply filled with war news, but also with the struggles of surviving during war time and the realities of everyday life. Lindgren writes about the concerns that she has for her husband and her children, in particular how they are doing during their schooling. The diaries are wonderful contrast of the ordinary with the outrage.

Sounds frighteningly timely.

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review 2016-10-09 20:45
Important
Holocaust (RosettaBooks into Film Book 28) - Gerald Green I know that this series was ground breaking in showing the Holocaust in its brutality. Therefore, the book is more important then my review indicates. Reading this book today, I have to wonder, why the women seemed to be blamed for so much in this book. The Nazi is pushed into serving Heydrich by his wife, the Jewish family stays because the wife wants to. When the women are not to blame, they are for the most part weaker than the men - crying and sobbing over the men more than once. I know that the purpose is to show as much as the Holocaust experience as possible, I just wish the female characters had been a bit more varied. The strong women are not given as much space (and one strong woman is blamed for her family staying), and one woman is only mentioned in passing. The book limits the roles of women to supporters of their husbands (and getting raped to save their husbands) to victims of sexual violence. That's it. I wanted more. Still the writing has vigor and is engrossing.
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review 2016-10-05 16:13
Mrs. Tuesday's Departure - Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

This book starts off promising enough. The conflict of a family trying to flee the Nazis, of a mother abandoning her child, and of twin sisters who are rivals is well done. Yet, the second half of the book is almost too melodramatic and relies too much on coincidence for me to fully believe it. At one point, it even feels as if the characters are too radically different, and they even realize this

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review 2016-10-03 17:42
Short but Good
A Ray of Light: Reinhard Heydrich, Lidice, and the North Staffordshire Miners - Russell Phillips,Anthony Howard,Shilka Publishing

Disclaimer: A free copy of this audio book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

                The massacre of the village of Lidice is perhaps one of the most infamous and least known massacres of World War II.  Infamous because Hitler ordered the destruction of village to avenge/punish the Czechs for the death of Heydrich due to Operation Anthropoid, though there was no connection between the men involved in the assassination and the town.  The men of the town were killed, the women and children evicted, some of the children even being placed into Nazi families.  There is a movie, Anthropoid, that deals with the build up to the assassination and the aftermath.   It is hardly surprising that this book is released at the same time.

 

                Phillips book not only details the plot and the immediate aftermath, but also focuses on the connection between Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent and other Stratffordshire.  It seems that after news of the massacre reached Stoke on Trent, the miners decided to help another mining town.

 

                Phillips’ book seems to come out of his discovery of the story along with a desire to make sections of the story more well known.  He includes the basic events leading up to the assassination as well as the massacre at Lidice itself.  Then he looks at what prompted the miners to raise funds to rebuild the town.  He considers the impact of the Cold War on the relationship between the two towns as well as more recent efforts to broaden knowledge of the massacre.

 

                The book is short, but packed with detail, including where to go for more information.  Perhaps the weakest part of the audio is the narrator who at times seems to be lisping, though this could have been a recording issue. 

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