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review 2018-07-28 01:41
Maus I : A Survivor's Tale : My Father Bleeds History - Art Spiegelman
Powerful story told through the eyes of the cartoonist son of his father who tries to survive WWII.  The family is Jewish and the story is of their lives before WWII and the Nazi takeover of Germany to the time the man and his wife are separated at Auschwitz. 
It is a hard story to hear how the survivors made it through and what they did to survive.  Done though graphic novel format does not lessen the horrors or the fear.  Going between the past and today, the story shows the contrast between the generations of survivors and their offspring.  It shows how those experiences continued to influence the present life for those who made it. 
This is not a book that will be left behind.  I will remember it.  I also want to read part 2. 
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review 2017-08-11 18:30
Concentration Camps of Canada
Concentration Camps of Canada: Based on a True Story - Baron Alexander Deschauer,Lucky Deschauer
Migizi is an Indigenous Canadian who is pulled away from his family and sent to a residential school with other Indians as the government attempt to strip away everything 'Indian' about him.  Migizi is now called David, he is not allowed to speak his own language, practice any customs or traditions or talk about his old life.  All of the children must work and if they fall ill, they are sequestered away until they die.  No doctors are called.  The children that survive are often abused by the Brothers and Sisters that run the school.  After school, Migizi is still required to get a permit whenever he would like to leave the reservation.  Migizi works for a living but soon falls into a cycle of alcohol abuse and spousal abuse.  Trying to set himself right, Migizi joins the army and returns a war hero.  Even with this status, in Canada, he is still considered an Indian and has limited rights.
This was a very eye-opening read.  I had no idea that indigenous Canadians were put through injustices for so long.  Through following Migizi from third grade through adulthood I had a good picture of the abuse of the Indigenous Canadians throughout time and how the government practices perpetuated the cycles of addiction and abuse.  I was appalled at the school that Migizi was sent to; how the Brothers and Sisters felt they could beat the Indian culture out of the students and that they received no medical care.  I was even more upset at the fact that this practice continued to happen as Migizi's grandchildren went through the schools.  Migizi's time in the Service seemed to be the only time that he was treated as an equal.  I was impressed with Migizi's skill and dedication to the army and how his missions helped to win WWII.  However, the racism that prevailed when he returned as a war hero quickly erased all of his accomplishments. Overall, this is an overwhelming story that increased my understanding of the struggles and injustices that the Native Canadians have faced and continue to face today.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 


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review 2016-08-26 21:13
Somewhat imbalanced depth but overall intersting
Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly

From the start this novel pulled me in, as I was intrigued by the format of three different points of view of women living during Hitlers reign in the US, Poland and Germany. It shows how these women navigated the trying political times, one as a debutante, one as a surgical doctor, and another as a prisoner at the dreaded Ravensbruck concentration camp. It did deliver, as I was pulled into different directions by these women, however I feel the pov's became imbalanced midway through.


Kasia and Herta's lives are so intrisically linked here, with Herta being an unwilling (at first) surgeon charged with performing medical experiments on Kasia and many other "rabbits" of Ravensbruck. Their pov's are so dependent on one another, and their paths are so dark, that when we jump to Caroline's high-society life in NYC, it became jarring and made me lose sympathy for this character in particular. I couldn't stop thinking "I just watched Kasia experience some true physical and emotional horrors, and I have a hard time feeling bad that your boyfriend is married, ok?" Although I did enjoy the character of Paul, and felt he was good for Caroline throughout, the relationship between them overshadowed a lot of what was so fascinating about this woman, particularly the magnitude of her altruistic work long after the last bomb fell.


One thing this book particularly succeeded in was making me realize how privileged in my life I am, sitting here, reading a book, searching for Pokemon, while genocide occurs in countries all over the world. Syrians are trying to escape their circumstances and being turned away, just like so many I am reading about in this book, and I'm here thinking "oh man I hope someone does something about that!" Which I recognize was exactly what those in Caroline's pov were doing. "Here have a check, a pity about Germany etc, where to for brunch?"


Something I found lacking was enough transition from unwilling doctor to what Herta became at the end, someone that saw it as "just doing her job." She eventually doesn't appear to see anything wrong with her actions, choosing her career prospects over her humanity, and I didn't get to follow her on that journey, even having access to her pov for much of the book. I recognize the narrative is fairly long, so adding much more to include greater depth could have made it gargantuan, but having all the pov's almost requires it.


It's a tricky thing, fictional accounts based on real people (Herta and Caroline in particular). You can get so much motivation and things from researching their letters, correspondence, journals, news articles, but how much personality/experiences/emotions can one add before you lose track of the people that lived, instead of what you're creating? This isn't a question I can answer, but I do wish the emotional experiences had balanced out better, as I feel it would have given me a greater connection to all.


As this was an audiobook, I must include how I felt about the narration. I think the right women were chosen to read these roles, as they all embodied Caroline, Herta, and Kasia with excellent grasps of the time period, language, culture, and personality.


Overall, I am glad I read this, even if just to learn something about these women I wasn't aware existed in history. It made me want to learn more about them, which I believe was the goal of the author. On that note, she succeeded. Those interested in similarly fictional accounts of Ravensbruck and women during WWII, be sure to also check out Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

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review 2015-09-11 20:23
An evolutionary history
KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps - Nikolaus Wachsmann

This is an excellent overview of the vast Nazi KL system and its history from the 1930s through the end of World War II.  Wachsmann’s writing is particularly lucid, with a very readable mix of anecdotal and archival/statistical documentation.


The largely chronological organization helps reveal the evolution of the camps.  It’s easy to have just one picture of how the KL worked, but Wachsmann does a fine job showing how the camps not only had different purposes from each other, but that the purposes and methods of operation changed over time.  One example he explores is how the work camps became statistically less deadly in 1943, in response to Himmler’s orders to make prisoners more of a labor resource to outside industry.


Another particular strength is Wachsmann’s showing how Nazi ideology swayed––and sometimes very far––to serve war expedients and the ambitions of commandants and their superiors.  He enlivens his work by illustrating his conclusions with examples of particular individuals, both well-known historical figures and numerous people whose fate was to be swept into the brutal world of the camps.


Wachsmann tackles some of the conventional wisdom about the camps and the prisoners (such as that all kapos were sadists, that prisoners became completely dehumanized, that women formed close bonds but men didn’t), presents his views and reasons for his conclusions.  Wachsmann has a clear-eyed, pragmatic and logical style.  He is no prisoner of ideology in his approach.


Along with another stellar recent work, Sarah Helm’s Ravensbruck, this will be a resource for years to come.

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review 2011-03-22 00:00
Inside America's Concentration Camps: Two Centuries of Internment and Torture - James L. Dickerson I have read about 5 books on the internment camps during WWI and WWII. Hands down, this is the best book I have read, thus far. The indepthness that the author goes into I have not seen in other books. Furthermore, he has "survivors" personal accounts which I have never seen before in books I have read on this subject. I can't wait to read his books Devil's Sanctuary: An Eyewitness History of Mississippi Hate Crimes and Dixie's Dirty Secret: The True Story of How the Government, the Media, and the Mob Conspired to Combat Integration and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. They should be interesting.ETA(03/23/2011): I finished this book 24 hours ago and there are issues that are still bothering me. The book in my opinion is still a 5 star read. In my opinion though, the author demeaned himself with the obvious bias in this book. I don't think he needed to go there and really knocked the excellent research down a peg or two. The author bashes the Bush administration (go figure!), yet gives a pass to the president's responsible for the greatest civil rights abuses in the 20th century...Yes, that would be Progressive presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR...FDR was even trying to figure out a way to give the middle finger to the Supreme Court and go around them when it was presented to them. SPOILER ALERT...SPOILEER ALERT...SPOILER ALERTThird and I must tell you I almost gave the book one star for this alone, the author compares prisoners in Guant.Bay to the concentration camps the Japaneese Americans and German Americans and such had to suffer through...Are you serious??? I could go on, but I would get more and more angry and the stars would disappear!
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