Tag Archives: history

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart (2007)

Summer at Tiffany is a delightful portrait of a moment in time. During the summer of 1945, Marjorie and her roommate Marty leave the University of Iowa for New York City. While jobs aren’t quite as easy to procure as promised, they get hired as the first female pages (runners) at Tiffany’s flagship store.

More than 60 years later, Marjorie recounts that special summer: celebrity sightings (Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich – did you know her role in WWII?), saving pennies for a few treats, dancing with soldiers, her own summer romance, and experiencing V-J Day in Times Square.

When I think of 1945, World War II immediately comes to mind. Marjorie’s story is a different slice of that year. As she said, everyone she knew was affected. Yet the story she shares is a 21-year-old small town girl experiencing the big city for the first time.

 

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

Unbroken, read by Edward Hermann, is the bestselling story of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who became a bombardier in World War II, was stranded on a life boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean, and eventually captured by the Japanese. Hillenbrand, author of the bestseller Seabiscuit, is a gifted story teller who meticulously details this almost unbelievable ordeal of pain and suffering. Yes, this is truly a book about resilience, and you will find yourself riveted to your seat as you listen to this well narrated, well told, true tale.

 

Rounding the Horn by Dallas Murphy (2004)

Excellent mixture of a 1990s trip to the southern tip of South America with tales of past voyages, beginning with Magellan through missionary journeys in the early 20th century. The stories bring in current friction between Chile and Argentina as well as conflicts among the English, Spanish, and the Aborigines in Terra de Fuega. These adventurous explorations leave a salty taste for all of us would be sailors.

Start your adventure with Rounding the Horn by Dallas Murphy today!

Rounding the Horn: being a story of williwaws and windjammers, Drake, Darwin, murdered missionaries and naked natives–a deck’s-eye view of Cape Horn by Dallas Murphy (2004)
Excellent mixture of a 1990s trip to the southern tip of South America with tales of past voyages, beginning with Magellan through missionary journeys in the early 20th century. The stories bring in current friction between Chile and Argentina as well as conflicts among the English, Spanish, and the Aborigines in Terra de Fuega. These adventurous explorations leave a salty taste for all of us would be sailors.

Nonfiction, travel, history, adventure

Spotlight: Social History of the Edwardian Age

With the popularity of the series Downton Abbey, you may enjoy books telling the stories life during the Edwardian Age. First, explore these tales of servant life: Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” by Margaret Powell (1968) and The Real Downton Abbey: An Unofficial Guide to the Period which Inspired the Hit TV Show by Jacky Hyams (2011)

Then catch a glimpse into the world of the aristocracy with these titles. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (2011) and Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon (2011)

These books examine the social history of two ways of life during the Edwardian age in England. They examine the difficulties, the behaviors, advantages, of both classes. In the 1800s, large families were the norm. Many children of the lower class were sent into service to earn money to help their struggling families. The labor supply was cheap and plentiful.

With the advent of World War I and the slaughter of millions of men both lower class and aristocracy, more higher paying jobs opened for both men and women. The servant class numbers began to shrink and a way of life unique to the times started on its way to extinction.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011)

In this impressive work, there is one book and 8 CDs, so you can read and listen; I did both. Mostly I read, and then listened to catch a vocal impression of Jacqueline Kennedy.

These first of a kind conversations with Arthur Schlesinger were recorded within a year of President’s Kennedy’s death. Jacqueline Kennedy, with her strong sense of history, documented and preserved her first hand recollections of her husband’s political colleagues, friends, and events as she remembered them. They were sealed and put in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library per her wishes.

Now in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, the Kennedy family has released these insightful and revealing tapes. So much has been written and conjectured about this family; it is refreshing to hear the very human memories of Jacqueline.

Reversely, the life of Jacqueline and her perspective are also illuminated. She reveals so much about herself as she expresses her views of her husband. It’s fascinating.

There so many people that the average reader will often refer to the footnotes. I would also add that these are the thoughts of a young woman, steeped in shock and grief, who bravely tried to preserve her husband’s legacy.

Check here to see if the book is available now.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

 In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson (2011)

A college professor and his family relocate to Berlin to serve as an ambassador in the years leading up to WWII. Hitler is rising. The family’s daughter befriends folk from every side of the coin. The U.S. government wants the professor to make sure Germany repays its debt. The U.S. government does not see Hitler as a threat.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Laura Hillenbrand, the author of this book and the earlier book Seabiscuit, has written another winner. This book hooks you in from page one. It’s a great story of an American POW held by the Japanese during World War II. I learned a lot from this book, too.

By the way, did you know the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was yesterday?

In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson

In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson (2011)
Larson once again skillfully brings history alive. This time Larson tackles Berlin in 1933 as Hitler and the Nazis begin their frightening ascent to power. He uses the American ambassador William E. Dodd and his family—especially his daughter’s—experiences as the lens for viewing Hitler’s Berlin. For those who wonder how the world remained so indifferent to the plight of the German Jews and blind to the Nazis resurgence of Germany’s military power, Larson provides some troubling insights.

For more about the book check out these articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Based on the eight pages of acknowledgments by the author, it can take a village to tell a story. And what a powerful, amazing, awesome story it is…

Born in 1917, Louie Zamperini was a precocious child, a prankster, and later a runner. He smashed California track records as a student at USC and raced at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

During World War II, as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps, he flew combat missions in the Pacific Theater. On May 27, 1943, his B-24 crashed into the ocean. Louie and pilot Alan Phillips survived 47 days at sea, only to be captured by the Japanese.

Unbroken is the unbelievable story of Louie. The detail is amazing yet not overwhelming. Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) has a wonderful storytelling ability that makes 400 pages fly by. And her story is fascinating in its own right. For over half her life, she has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. This Newsweek article provides more about Hillenbrand, her relationship with Louie, and the book.