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.
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.
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.
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.
To be the second or third generation family of Holocaust survivor(s) is to carry a sadly unique perspective on life. Your family may look “normal”, but the wartime experiences of those who lived forever changed their outlook on everything.
Esther Safran Foer is a second-generation Holocaust survivor. Both of her parents are the only members of their families to have survived the war. Her father came from Trochenbrod and her mother came from Kolki. They met and married after the war, had their daughter, and moved to America.
Though Esther grew up in the comfort and safety of the United States, there as a part of her that was curious about her parent’s experiences during the war. Her memoir, I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir, was published earlier this year. The story starts when her mother (who has since passed), casually mentions that her husband had a family before the war. This out of nowhere disclosure leads Esther on a journey to answer the burning questions that up that point, had never been answered.
I have to admit that my feelings are mixed about this book. The subject itself is an emotionally difficult one, but that goes without saying. Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve read and reviewed many books on this particular topic. The mixed feelings do not come from the subject, but from the book itself.
The problem is that by the time the reader gets to the middle of the book, the narrative slows down. I was almost at the point of putting it down and walking away, but I somehow finished it.
For most of the world, Auschwitz is the most well known of the Nazi death camps. Millions of people were starved, tortured, and murdered simply because of who they were.
But the residents this unfortunately infamous town know it as Oswiecim.
Recently, Israeli Ice Hockey star Eliezer Sherbatov signed on to play for Unia Oswiecim. Unia Oswiecim is the local hockey team for Osweicim. The reaction to his decision was both positive and negative, depending upon who one spoke to.
Defending his choice, Sherbatov stated the following:
“I tell them, what happened 80 years ago will never be forgotten. That’s why, 80 years later, I want to show young people that they should be proud of their heritage and that now anything is possible.”
I agree with him. Though I fully understand the criticism, I feel like this is a sign of hope and the ability to triumph over tragedy. While the we must never forget what happened with the borders of the death camp, we must also live. The fact that the Jews and Judaism is alive and thriving nearly 100 years later is sweet revenge on it’s own.
While we cannot go back in time and change history, we can remember those who were taken from us. Eliezer Sherbatov joining Unia Oswiecim is in itself a memorial to those who were murdered and a reminder that love and humanity still exist.
The new characters I will be reviewing are from…All in the Family.
*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 All in the Family. 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.
From a writer’s perspective, it would be too easy to create a one note character that is entirely predictable. It is much harder to create a fully rounded character who the audience can relate to in-spite of that person’s flaws and imperfect humanity.
Archie Bunker (the late Carroll O’Connor) is very much an every man. A veteran of World War II and a blue collar worker, Archie lives in Queens with his wife Edith (the late Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his son-in-law Mike “Meathead” Stivic (Rob Reiner).
The world around Archie is changing. When change happens, there are two ways to respond. You can either accept it or entirely reject it. Archie is not shy in admitting that he would prefer that life went back to the way it was. He also is not shy about using not so politically correct terms that some might refer to as racist or sexist.
Archie is a dyed in the wool supporter of the Republican Party and then President Richard Nixon. Which often leads to clashes with Mike and Gloria, who politics are on the more liberal spectrum. He also refers to Edith as “dingbat” and loves to sit in his favorite chair while sharing his opinions about the world around him.
But underneath that gruff and bravado is a man who loves his family and at the end of the day, would do anything for them.
To sum it up: No one is just all good or all bad. It is that in between of good and bad that makes us human. Though Archie Bunker may appear to be a racist and sexist hard-ass, he is in reality a man trying to process the transformation of everything that is in front of him.
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.
When we are hurt by someone, the question of whether we are able to forgive and forget often comes up once everything calms dawn.
In Hamburg, former Concentration Camp guard Bruno Dey was brought to trial as one of those responsible for the murders of innocents at the Stutthof concentration camp. His fate will be decided on Thursday.
Some might argue that he has age in his favor. At the age of 93, even if he is sent to jail, Mr. Dey’s proposed three prison sentence will be short. He was also a young man during World War II, perhaps unable to fully comprehend his assignment.
However, that does not give him a free pass to live out whatever years he has left on Earth. He is still, in his own small way responsible for the murders of the innocent people who died in front of him.
I have often spoken on this blog of my immigrant ancestors and their loved ones who were murdered just for being Jewish. As much as I would love to say that this case is black and white, it isn’t. There are too many factors involved to declare it to be easily won either way.
But there is one bright spot. If he can say “never again”, then perhaps the world has a chance of finally learning from the past.
Wearing a mask, whether voluntarily or because of a mandate, is not the same as being murdered by the Nazis. Wearing a mask can save lives during this pandemic that is not a deep state Soros plot to steal your soul if you have one.
There are two ways to tell a story. The first is in a dry academic style that informs, but does not teach in a way that is memorable. The second is in a vibrant manner in which the audience learns something long the way.
Back in 2012, Red Tails hit theaters. Starring Terrence Howard and David Oyelowo, the film told the story about the Tuskegee Airmen that fought in World War II.
I have to agree with the critics about this movie. Though the film does an admirable job of introducing or re-introducing audiences to the true story of unsung American heroes, it is not as good as it could be.