Tag Archives: World War I

World on Fire Character Review: Lois Bennett

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Love and loss often compels us to act in ways that we would otherwise act. On World on Fire, Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) is initially introduced to the audience as an idealistic young woman living in England at the start of World War II. Though she has a day job, her true passion is singing. At night, she performs at night clubs with her friend, Connie Wright (Yrsa Daley-Ward). She is also happily in love with Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King), in spite of his upper class mother Robina’s (Lesley Manville) misgivings.

But life is not all sunshine and roses. Lois lives with her hot-headed brother Tom (Ewan Mitchell) and their widowed father Douglas (Sean Bean). Douglas is a veteran of World War I. Still dealing with PTSD decades after returning home, he is against Britain getting involved in another war.

After she and Harry break up, Lois joins the ENSA and the war effort. When she finds out that he has returned to England with a young boy who is his brother-in-law, she is furious. When they meet, one thing leads to another and they sleep together.

Upon finding out that she is pregnant, Lois decides to keep the baby. But, she does not tell Harry and rejects financial help from Robina. At a local army base, Lois meets Vernon Hunter (Arthur Darvill). She initially rejects him but eventually agrees to marry him.

Starts at 3:43

To sum it up: There are two ways to deal with loss, especially loss that is associated with romantic love. We can wallow in self-pity. Or, we can find a way to move on from that loss, even if it is difficult. What I like about Lois is that she does not let the breakup with Harry stop her from living. That strength I find to be inspiring and powerful.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, History, Television

Insulting the Military is Not The Way to Win a Presidential Election

An election, especially a Presidential Election is a unique time in the political history of the United States. It is a time in which we, the people, can hire and/or fire those who we choose to represent our interests.

The 2020 Presidential election is two months away. At this point in time, the pressure on both sides of the campaign is only beginning to ramp up. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are doing everything in their power to win the election. However, there is one way to lose voters. The way is to insult them.

Yesterday, you know who called American soldiers who were captured and/or killed in battle “losers” and “suckers”.

This, from the guy who got out of serving in Vietnam because of “bone spurs”. This man is a coward and a bully. He talks a big game, but is never able to follow up with action. While our military and their families serve and protect our country, he insults them.

When the late Senator John McCain was still alive, he was not shy in verbally attacking the Senator because he was a POW.

I come from military veterans. My grandfathers and uncles fought in World War II. One of my great-uncles on my mother’s paternal line was a veteran of World War I. Having their memories and their years of service spit upon by a man who did everything he could to avoid serving crosses a line that I take personally. It is just another reminder of who this person truly is and why he is unfit for office.

Obviously, his goal is to be President for another four years. Referring to those who gave their lives for the United States as “losers” and “suckers” is not the way to win a Presidential election.

#BidenHarris2020

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The Last Winter of the Weimar Republic: The Rise of the Third Reich Book Review

History has a way of teaching the current generation as only history can. But, we must be willing to listen.

The Last Winter of the Weimar Republic: The Rise of the Third Reich was released earlier this year. Written by R diger Barth and Hauke Friederichs with a translation by Caroline Waight, the book tells the story of the short time in which democracy turned into fascism in the 1930’s.

The book starts in November of 1932. The Weimar Republic is Germany’s version of democracy between World War I and World War II. The country is in shambles. The economy is crumbling as multiple political parties vie for power. President Paul von Hindenburg is presiding over a country in which democracy is on the verge of disappearing.

As political intrigue over takes the German political system, the Nazis slowly begin to take hold of power. Germany and the rest of the world will never be the same.

Two things struck me. The first thing was that this book is that it reads like a political thriller. Instead of being a fictional story with the fictional ending, it is a real story with an ending that resulted in war and the loss of millions of lives. The second thing is that the events in the book are a lesson that some political leaders in 2020 desperately need to learn.

I recommend it.

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When Should We Re-Open the Country?

With most of the country closed due to Covid-19, many have been asking when we can re-open the country?

I’m not a doctor, nor am I a scientist. But logic tells me that when we re-open, we cannot go back to where we were in early March as if nothing has happened. Depending on how hard the disease has it a certain area, re-opening must be done in stages. If history has taught us anything about epidemics, it is not to underestimate a virus.

In 1918, as World War I raged and the Spanish Flu killed millions, officials in Philadelphia bowed to pressure and chose not to cancel a parade. The result of this decision was the filling of the city’s hospitals and the death of thousands of people.

Across the country, there have been protests in regards to the stay at home orders. Three states across the South will soon be re-opening their economies.

I get it, I really do. It’s fine to stay home for a day or two to take a break from the daily grind. But staying home for a month or more without knowing when you can return to normalcy is frustrating. Especially when millions are out of work and not every employee has the opportunity to work from home.

I also get and respect the right to protest when we disagree with our governmental leaders. But I also know that New York City (where I live) is the national epicenter of this crisis. If the city (and the country by extension) were to open too soon, it might trigger a second or even third wave of hospitalizations and deaths.

My humble opinion is that the country as a whole can only open when testing is widely available and the number of cases is as close to zero as we can get. Then and only then, we can even consider opening the country and the economy.

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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 78th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

War is not the ideal state for any nation to be in. But when a nation is attacked, they have no choice to fight back.

Today is the 78th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Up until the day that Japan attacked, many Americans were wary of getting involved in the war. Many still had very active memories from World War I. But the attack changed everything.

A generation of young men died that day, their bodies entombed in the sea. They died fighting for their country. 78 years later, their service and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

May the memories of those who died that day forever be a blessing.

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Hitler and the Habsburgs The Fuhrer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals Book Reviews

As a reader and a history buff, I thought that I had read and/or heard of every story about World War II. But I was wrong.

The first half of the twentieth century is notable for any number of reasons. One of those reasons is the physical deaths and/or dissolutions of most of the major monarchies in Europe. The new book, Hitler and the Habsburgs The Fuhrer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals, by James Longo, tells the story of World War II from a different angle.

As we all learned in high school history class, World War I started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the House of Hapsburg and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. A generation later, a certain German Chancellor (who shall remain nameless on this blog post) controlled all of Europe and was responsible for the massacre of millions. Nursing a decades-long vendetta against the Hapsburgs and their orphaned children, it was the spark that eventually led him to power.

*There would normally be a video here, but there is none to be found.

This book is very interesting. It is obvious that the author thoroughly researched the period and his subjects. The story takes the reader on a journey that I have not experienced in a long time. However, this book is not for the casual reader. It is for one who is well versed and interested in the period and the history of that period.

I recommend it.

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Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II Book Review

When it comes to Hollywood personalities, there are sometimes two people: the real person and the image crafted to sell tickets.

Audrey Hepburn is one of the most recognized and revered celebrities of Hollywood’s golden age. Movies such as Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady have endeared her to generations of film fans.

The new biography, Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, by Robert Matzen, tells the story of a portion of the late Ms. Hepburn’s life that is sometimes overlooked: her childhood during World War II. She was born in 1929 to a British father and an aristocratic Dutch mother. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her father left the family soon after and Audrey was raised by her mother.

When she was a pre-teen, World War II started. The Dutch believed that because their country was neutral during World War I, nothing would change. Little did they know how history would forever change their country and affect the future film icon that is Audrey Hepburn.

I loved this book. I was aware previously that Ms. Hepburn was a child during World War II, but I had no idea of how much the war would have a life long affect on her.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On the Supreme Court World War I Memorial Decision

One of the basic tenets of America is the separation between church and state. While on the surface, this statement seems black and white, there are shades of grey beneath the surface.

This week, the Supreme Court decided that a giant cross in Maryland that memorializes young men from that community who died for their country in World War I can stay on public land.

I have to be honest, I am torn about the decision. Without a shadow of a doubt, the young men who gave their lives for our freedoms deserve to our respect, our thanks and a perpetual memorial. However, those who erected the memorial either forgot or ignored the fact that not every American soldier who died for their country was of the Christian faith.

Is there an easy answer to this question? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that all of our soldiers who gave their lives for their country deserve to be remembered, not just those who practiced Christianity.

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Dumbo Movie Review

Over the past few years, Disney is intend on using our childhood memories to bring us once more to the movie theaters. This weekend, the reboot of Dumbo (1941) was released.

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has just returned home from fighting in World War I, sacrificing one of his arms in the process of fighting for his country. His wife died during the war, leaving his two children Milly (Nico Parker, Thandie Newton‘s daughter) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) motherless. Stuck in the past, Holt is unable to move forward until his boss and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) puts Holt in charge of the elephants. One of the female elephants has just given birth, the newborn elephant has unusually large ears that allow him to fly. After the circus has a bit of success with the new elephant, named Dumbo, V.A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton) takes notice of the little elephant. He wants to add Dumbo to Colette Marchant’s (Eva Green) aerialist act. But Vandervere’s plans are not completely altruistic; he has some plans up his sleeve that are questionable.

First of all, I have to give kudos to the screenwriters. Not only did smartly remove the racist caricatures of the crows, but they used Dreamland as the background for the second half of the movie. Dreamland is not a well-known subject unless one is well versed in the history of New York City or early 20th century amusement parks.

I haven’t seen the original animated film in quite a few years, but I feel like this reboot is close enough in narrative to its predecessor. What is nice about this film is that not only is not the typical slightly out-there Tim Burton film, but it speaks of animal cruelty and gives Milly, as a budding scientist, her due.

I recommend it.

Dumbo is presently in theaters.

 

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