Category Archives: History

All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris Book Review

A building is more than the materials used to build it. It is a place of action and memories.

The center of the new novel, All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris is the Ritz Paris Hotel. Co-written by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, the book is set in three different times and places in France: an aristocratic country house during World War I, Paris during World War II and Paris in the 1960’s.

During World War I, heiress Aurelie is trapped in her family’s ancestral home with her father. The Germans have taken over and are slowly sapping the land and the people of their resources. During World War II, Daisy was raised by her American grandmother. Married to a Frenchman who has joined the Nazi cause, she secretly joins the resistance. In the 1960’s, Barbara is a recent widow. She has come to France to seek out the lover her late husband never got over.

When three authors work together on one story, there is either the potential to create an amazing story or a mess of a novel with three separate voices that never quite merge together. This book is somewhere in the middle. It is far from the worst book I have ever read. However, it does not quite reach the potential that it promises.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Thoughts On the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

This coming Monday is a somber day. It is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Earlier in the week, PBS aired an episode of Secrets of the Dead that focused on the fact that though the Allies knew about the death camp and were urged to bomb it, they chose not to.

What makes me angry is that the purpose of this war was to fight for democracy and human rights. And yet, when the Allies had an opportunity to make a statement about the very thing that they were fighting for, they chose not to.

I can’t help but think of the time, energy, resources, and the lives that were wasted in the Holocaust. We will never know what the victims and their forebears might have given to the world. We will also never know what those who worked in the camps might have done with their lives if they had not given into the hate and believed the lies of the Nazis.

We talk about “Never Again” and how we will never let a specific people be ostracized, traumatized and murdered. And yet, in our modern world, with all of the hate that has started to once more consume us, the message feels as important as ever.

May the memories of those who were killed within Auschwitz be a blessing and a reminder of how inhuman we can be to our fellow humans.

Z”l.

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The Daughter's Tale: A Novel Book Review

As parents, we will do almost anything to ensure that our children will grow up to be happy, healthy and productive members of society. But during wartime, a parent’s main concern is that they, their children and their family survives the war.

Armando Lucas Correa’s latest book, The Daughter’s Tale: A Novel starts in modern-day New York City. Elise Duval is in her golden years. Born in France and raised as a Catholic, her formative years were during World War II. After the war, Elise moved to the United States, where she was raised by her uncle. Then a stranger brings Elise a box that opens the door to her past.

In 1939 in Berlin, Amanda Sternberg and her husband live a comfortable life with their two young daughters. But Amanda and her family are Jewish and the noose around Europe’s Jews is tightening. Making the ultimate parental sacrifice, Amanda puts her older daughter on a boat to the Americas before fleeing to France with her younger daughter.

Amanda hopes that living in France will provide the respite that she and daughter desperately need. But the Nazis are not too far behind. When Amanda is forced into a labor camp, she knows that the only way to save her daughter is to send her away.

This book is fantastic. What drew me in was the force of Amanda’s love for her children and how she knew instinctively that in order to save her children’s lives, she had to send them away. Regardless of faith, family background or cultural history, it is a message that I believe speak to all of us, especially those of us who have children.

I recommend it.

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American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power Book Review

One of the beautiful things about American culture, is that one’s status within the society is not static. There are opportunities to grow beyond the circumstances of one’s birth. Unfortunately, with those opportunities, comes the risk that not every business venture is on the up and up.

Journalist and Trump, Inc. host Andrea Bernstein recently published her new book, American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. In the book, she starts with the immigrant roots of both families and ends with the current economic and political state of her subjects. Utilizing interviews, hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, Bernstein draws a picture of two families who would do anything (and I mean anything) to get a powerful place and stay in power.

This book is an eye-opener. Those of us who are news junkies are fully aware of the current press that surrounds both families, but the past press is often overlooked. The thing is about this book, is that it can be seen as partisan, depending on your perspective. As a Democrat who is more than ready to see you know who out of office, this book confirms everything that I believe about the current administration.

I recommend it.

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Anne Brontë is 200!

bardessdmdenton - author- artist

If she were more perfect, she would be less interesting

Finally

it’s Anne’s own Brontë200:

Today is the 200th Anniversary
of Anne Brontë’s birth, January 17, 1820!

A very special day as

she is subject of my novel …

Above all, through the well-measured words of Denton, a young Anne emerges more and more. She frees from the web of religiosity with which she traditionally is painted, [and] tries to leave something good in the world through her measured but deliberately targeted writing. A different Anne at the beginning of the book, timidly in love; then resigned to accept her own death with dignity and fortitude. A meaningful homage to the memory of Anne Brontë.

~ Maddalena De Leo, Italian Representative of The Bronte Society

STC98097 Portrait of Anne Bronte (1820-49) from a drawing in the possession of the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, engraved by Walker and Boutall (engraving) by Bronte, Charlotte (1816-55) (after) engraving Private Collection The Stapleton Collection English, out of copyright STC98097 Portrait of Anne Bronte (1820-49) from a drawing in the possession of the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, engraved by Walker and Boutall (engraving)…

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Thoughts on MLK Day and the Spike in Antisemitism

For many Americans, Martin Luther King Jr. is an icon. More than fifty years after his death, he is the image of the Civil Rights Movement.

These days, the news is unfortunately full of stories of attacks against Jewish residents in the New York City area by African-Americans.

When asked about the Jews and antisemitism, Dr. King said the following:

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

What many forget is that American Jews were on the forefront of the Civil Rights moment.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was not only a good friend of Dr. King, he was an ally. He was on the front lines with Dr. King, fighting for the rights of African-Americans.

In 1964, three young men were murdered because they believed that all Americans, regardless of race, were equal. James Chaney was the son of a African-American family from Mississippi. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were raised Jewish in the New York City area. They came together and were murdered together because of what they believed and what they were fighting for.

When I think about Martin Luther King Jr., I think of a man of courage, honor and conviction. He knew that the journey and others were about embark upon was dangerous. But he also knew that it was right. I take that as a lesson not just in my personal life, but in every aspect of my life. What is right is not always easy. But in that lack of ease comes the knowledge that though the journey is difficult, it is the only way forward.

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Thoughts On the Impeachment & You Know Who's Sea Wall Comment

Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, I think it’s safe to say that this current President has, if nothing else, rocked the political boat.

You know who’s recent comment about the proposal to build a seawall to protect New York City from another Hurricane Sandy is both arrogant and ignorant. I don’t know where he was during the hurricane, but I know where I was. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and a kick in the pants that climate change is real and destructive.

The ironic thing is that while he mocks the effort to protect the residents of New York City from another massive hurricane, he continues to believe that building a wall is the solution to resolve the issue of immigration reform. Building the wall and maintaining on the Southern border is a waste of money, time and the human resources. If he truly wanted to reform our immigration issues, he would be doing everything in his power to work with Congress. Instead he makes up lies and spouts false promises that will never become reality.

Speaking of, last week, he became the third President in American history to be impeached.

To be fair, this does not mean (at least at this point in time), that he will be even found guilty or removed from office. Only time can tell us that. But, the message is clear. No one, not even the President of the United States is above the law. He or she is as bound to follow the rules as any of us are.

As Senator Nancy Pelosi (D-California) stated on Real Time with Bill Maher,

“If I knew that the president is listening, I would want him to know that he is impeached forever, and he is impeached forever because he used the office of the president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit. In doing so, he undermined our national security, he was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our election,” she added later. “He gave us no choice.”

As of now, we don’t know how this will all turn out. Regardless of what happens, it is a stark reminder of how important it is to what has to be done to keep our democracy alive. If we don’t, I am seriously afraid of what the consequences will be.

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Will the Equal Rights Amendment Be Ratified in My Time?

In 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress. It is designed to level to playing field for all Americans, regardless of sex. For nearly 100 years, this amendment has been bouncing around the halls of power and throughout the public consciousness.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. In the century since American women were given the right to vote, our achievements are nothing short of mind blowing. But those achievements only came by way of the hard work of generations of women.

As of this week, it appears that the ERA is one step closer to becoming the law of the land.

We live in a country and a world in which women are still second class citizens. For all of our achievements, there is still a long way to go until we are truly equal. Ratifying the ERA and writing it into the Constitution would go a long way to ensure that American women are truly and completely equal in the eyes of the law.

The question is, will our lawmakers have the balls to finally stand up and do what is right? Or will they put their put their heads in the sand and pretend that its still 1950?

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The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel Book Review

It’s hard to be the younger sibling. Especially when your older sibling(s) are beloved.

The late Princess Margaret, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was quite the wild child back in the day.

Her story is told in the new novel, The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel, by Georgie Blalock. Through the eyes of Vera Strathmore, the daughter of an impoverished aristocratic family, the viewer is swept into the world of Princess Margaret. At the beginning of the novel, Margaret is young, spoiled, passionate and tempestuous. Vera, still hurting from the death of fiance during World War II, is a writer who dreams of moving to New York.

A chance encounter with Margaret changes Vera’s life and her priorities. Drawn into Margaret’s inner circle, Vera watches as she falls madly in love with Peter Townsend. Peter works for the royal household, is older and married. Despite the criticism, Margaret is determined to have her man.

While Margaret is cordoned into royal responsibilities, Vera begins to wish to be untied from a life tied to the Princess. Soon another scandal envelopes Margaret and Vera must choose how she wants to spend the rest of her life.

This book is brilliant. There is a perception when it comes to royalty, that living that life is akin to a fairy tale. But the reality of that is life far from the fairy tale that it is perceived to be. In telling Princess Margaret’s story through the eyes of Vera, the viewer is taken to a world that is essentially a golden cage. It is a cage that when perceived from within, can be unappealing.

I recommend it.

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With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace Book Review

To be a woman in a man’s world requires one to have a backbone. To be a woman of color in a white man’s world requires one to have much than a backbone.

Nikki Haley was formerly both the Governor of South Carolina and a state legislator. She was also the US Ambassador to the United Nations. In her new book, With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace, Governor Haley writes about her perspective on politics, national events, and international events.

Though I don’t agree with her on everything in regards to politics, I admire her ability to be who she is and stand up for what she believes in. She is thriving in a professional world in white men still dominate. Women, especially women of color are still too much in the minority.

My problem, however, is with the book. The first third of the book is too slow for my taste. There were moments when I was ready to throw in the towel. It was in the second third of the book when it finally picked up.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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