Category Archives: History

The World That We Knew: A Novel Book Review

It has been said that desperate times call for desperate measures. During war, to say that desperate measures are taken is an understatement.

Alice Hoffman’s novel, The World That We Knew: A Novel, was published last fall. Set during World War II, Hanni Kohn makes a choice that no mother should ever have to make. Sensing that the danger has grown tenfold for Europe’s Jews, she asks Ettie, a Rabbi’s daughter for help. Ettie bring a golem to life, it’s job is to protect Hanni’s twelve year old daughter Lea.

As both Ettie and Lea try to survive in a world that wishes them dead, they have no idea that their lives will be forever entwined.

I wanted to like this book. I was so drawn in by Hanni’s last action as a mother that I thought it would carry me throughout the novel. It didn’t. I was not completely bored, but I was also not drawn in. When it comes to stories of this ilk, I want to be completely sucked in, waiting on baited breath to know the character’s fate.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life Love, Liberty, and Law Book Review

When our heroes die, we are reminded of the reasons why we adored and respected them.

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law, by Jeffrey Rosen, was released last fall. Over the course of more than twenty years, the author, who is also a long time journalist, sat down to interview the late Supreme Court Judge. While the conversations mainly focused on the law, they also revealed the women behind the icon.

I read this book in a very short amount of time and loved it. Well written and very easy to read, the reader is introduced to RBG in a personable and down to earth manner. When I finished this book, I felt like I had gone beyond the standard biographies and bylines. It was like I was able to have a private conversation with her that I will remember and treasure forever.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Rest in Revolution, RBG

Activism is not always done standing on a soapbox with a microphone in one’s hand. It can be done working quietly behind the scenes.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday. Born and raised in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, she came of age in an era when most women quietly settled in marriage and motherhood. She could have followed the pack, but chose another life. That life led her to become only the second women to join the United States Supreme Court. Serving nearly three decades, she was a feminist and icon in every sense of the word.

I can’t think of any other Supreme Court Justice who has deified on Saturday Night Live. Kate McKinnon is perfection.

Her passing represents more than her physical death. The question comes up of who should replace her. If precedent has anything to say, whomever fills her seat will not be named until after November. But, given the current state of American politics, I would not be surprised if there was already a list of potential replacements waiting in the wings.

In the words of our mutual ancestors, may her memory be a blessing and an inspiration to fight for equality.

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Filed under Feminism, New York City, National News, Television, History, Politics

Flashback Friday: The 80’s: The Decade That Made Us (2013)

History is an interesting thing. We might not be aware of it in the moment. But upon looking back, we are able to develop a clear picture of what has happened.

The six part miniseries The 80’s: The Decade That Made Us premiered on the National Geographic channel in 2013. Hosted and narrated by actor Rob Lowe, the program looks back at how the years of 1980-1990 changed America. Utilizing news clips, interviews, and other media, the audience is presented with a complete perspective of the decade.

I enjoyed this series. Encompassing every aspect of the era, it is an entertaining and captivating tale of how those ten years forever affected how we live today.

I recommend it.

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It’s 19 Years Since 9/11

Time goes faster than we think it goes.

Today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11. I can’t believe that it is 19 years.

There is a whole generation of kids who were very young or not yet born when the towers fell. Looking back, the years leading up to September 11th, 2001 feels like a pleasant dream in which we were violently waken up from.

Though it is nearly a full generation, the pain and the grief feel as fresh as if it was September 12th, 2001. My heart still breaks for those who died that day and their surviving loved ones. Time can do many things, including heal old wounds. But it can never erase the memory of what happened that day.

May the memories of those were killed that day and those first responders who have died in the years since forever be a blessing to us all.

Z”l.

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Throwback Thursday: The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)

There are television shows and there are television shows. The first is watchable and entertaining, but ultimately, fades from memory. The second lives on and continues to reach audiences across the generations.

The Dick Van Dyke Show originally ran for five years, from 1961-1966. Created by the late Carl Reiner, the show starred Dick Van Dyke and the late Mary Tyler Moore. Van Dyke played Rob Petrie, a TV writer who lived in the suburbs and worked in the city. Tyler Moore played Laura Petrie, Rob’s wife who was a homemaker.

There is a reason why sixty years on, this program is as revered and beloved as it was during its original run. Though it has the flavor of the family sitcoms of the era (e.g. Father Knows Best), it is a bridge to the modern family sitcoms that we watch today. Unlike their predecessors, the characters are imperfect humans who like the rest of us, are trying to get by.

The program was also revolutionary because Laura wore pants. Up to that point, the mothers in this genre all wore dresses or skirts. Though it is not a huge moment in the march for equality, it was a step that looked upon today is ground breaking.

I recommend it.

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Outlander Review

The narrative of a stranger in a strange land is one of humanities oldest stories.

Outlander (based on the books of the same name by Diana Gabaldon) premiered on Starz back in 2014. In post World War II Scotland, former British military nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is enjoying a second honeymoon with husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). Then somehow, she is sent back two hundred years in the past. In order to survive, she marries Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Can she return to her own time and if she can’t, what changes must she make to adapt?

I am presently about 2/3rds of the way though the first season. Though I never read the books and cannot make any comparisons to the series, I am enjoying it. It has elements of the different genres that play well together to create a story that is engaging and very entertaining.

I absolutely recommend it.

Outlander is now streaming on Netflix.

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Flashback Friday: The Plague (2005)

In the collective mind of humanity, we tend to believe that we are above Mother Nature. We forget that not only are we not above Mother Nature, but we are also still under her control.

The Plague was a documentary that premiered on the History Channel in 2005. It told the story of the Black Plague. Between the years of 1346 & 1353, millions were killed and Europe as it was back then was forever changed.

Watching this in 2020, it strikes me how relevant it is. Though Covid-19 does not have the same power over us that the Black Plague had in the 14th century, the repercussions have not changed. In spite of the science that has saved lives, human beings have not changed. There are still some among us who disbelieve the news and others who think that it is a punishment from the eternal parent upstairs.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday: Nostradamus Effect (2009)

We would all love to be able to predict the future. It is human to wonder and ask what is to come.

In the 16th century, Nostradamus was known as an astrologer, a doctor, and a reputed seer. The quatrains he wrote are said to have predicted the future. In 2009, Nostradamus Effect premiered on the History Channel. This “documentary” series promised to explain how his prophecies have come or will come to pass.

This is one of those history programs that tries to sound legit, but it is questionable at best. The information presented sounds good. But watching it, I have to wonder how much of it is real and how much is embellished to add to the drama.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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RIP Chadwick Boseman

To say that cancer is cruel is an understatement. It steals lives when one is otherwise perfectly healthy, taking away what should be years, if not decades of life, love, and experiences.

Actor Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer earlier today. He was 43.

He was best known for playing real life heroes (Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013) and James Brown in Get on Up (2014)) and fictional superheroes (T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Avengers franchise).

My heart hurts. Tears are welling up in my eyes. He was one of the actors who could jump from genre to genre, from character to character. The transition was seamless. His future as an performer was full of possibilities.

But cancer had other plans.

May his memory be a blessing and may he live forever on the silver screen.

Z”L

P.S. The fact that he was constantly working throughout the four years of his battle with cancer tells me at least everything I need to know about who the man was.

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