Tag Archives: World War I

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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The Royal Nanny: A Novel Book Review

Any working parent will tell you that finding quality childcare is hard to find. Especially if you are royalty and at least one of your children will one day wear the crown that lies on your head.

In 2016, Karen Harper published The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The book is based on the true story of Charlotte Bill, who was the nanny to the children of King George V and Queen Mary from the late 1890’s to the end of World War I. While Charlotte was responsible for all of the children(who referred to her as Lala), she took extra responsibility for Prince John, the youngest of the King and Queen’s six children. The young prince needed extra love and attention, a task that Lala took on with everything she had.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because it was written and it shows that despite wealth and power, those who bear the title of King or Queen are still human beings. Their children still face the same obstacles that we all face as children, regardless where their family is placed on the social scale.

I recommend it.

 

 

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He Can Play Golf Every Weekend, But He Cannot Go Out In The Rain To Honor The Heroes of World War I

When one joins the military, there is the expectation that he or she may give up their life at some point to protect their country.

Today is Veterans Day. We remember the millions who served, regardless of whether they came home or gave their lives to protect everything that they hold dear.

This year is the 100th anniversary of ending of World War I. In addition to remembering all of the American veterans, we remember those who fought and died in World War I.

You know who promised to support veterans, but not surprisingly, there were no actions behind his words.

During the election, he chastised President Obama for golfing, but he has golfed every weekend since taking office. Yesterday was the international gathering of world leaders to remember those who gave their lives during World War I.  He used the excuse that it was raining not to attend. Was he afraid of getting his precious hair wet? If so, this another example, at least to my mind that he is unfit to lead the country.

To give your life during war to protect and support your country is the most heroic act anyone can do. By using a flimsy excuse to not attend the memorial ceremony, he is once more showing his true colors. It is those colors that continue to prove that he should be holding any political office, especially the highest political office in the land.

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House of Gold Book Review

There is an old Chinese proverb:

“May you live in interesting times”

Natasha Solomons’s new book, House of Gold starts a few years before World War I. The Goldbaum family is one of the wealthiest and most powerful Jewish families in Europe. Everyone within the family knows their place and their responsibilities. The men go into the family business. The women marry their cousins and produce the next generation of Goldbaums. The main character in House of Gold is Greta Goldbaum. A member of the Austrian branch of the family, Greta is independent and intelligent. She would love to live by her own rules, but she also knows that she is going to do her duty, one way or another.

She marries Albert, a distant cousin from English branch of the family. Like many arranged marriages, their relationship is slow to take off. When Greta is made mistress of the family garden, she begins to see that things are not so bad. She may even start to get to know her husband in the process.

Then war breaks out. World War I consumes all of the Europe. There is no amount of influence or money that can shield the Goldbaums from the horrors of war. As the war rages on, the family is torn apart and Greta must make a decision. She must choose the family she left in Austria or the new family she has come to love in England.

This book is amazing. While the beginning of the narrative is a little slow, it takes off about a third of the way in and does not let go until the very end. What hooked me most is the main character. While Greta is certainly a woman of her time, she is not one to automatically submit to her husband. She is intelligent, a little defiant when she needs to be, and has a backbone.

Another reviewer compared House of Gold to Downton Abbey. The comparison is spot on and this book is amazing.

I absolutely recommend it.

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