The Lessons of History

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, READ HISTORY (Part One)

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: FURY
Word of the Day prompt: SUSTAIN
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: EULOGY

Fury, Rage, and Free Press

Sue over at Crooked Creek has done reports on the new books about Donald Trump: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH written by his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the other, RAGE, by Bob Woodward. I think Sue has done a great job of introducing the books lightly and fairly, without getting into personal opinions about the contents.

Stickler for accuracy that I am, I do object to the subtitle “…the world’s most dangerous man.” It sounds so sensational. No doubt he is one of the most powerful men on the planet but when I think of some dictators, money men, heads of organized crime and drug lords, I’m not so sure who should receive that title. But I’ll leave that where it is.

When I read these book reviews, my thought was: at least we live in a world of free speech. People have compared Donald Trump to Hitler, but there’s so much difference. Read about that history! If any writer wrote a news story calling Hitler a megalomaniac or tried to publish a book about Adolf Hitler, the most dangerous man on the planet (which he was, in his day) the journalist or author would have disappeared in the night and never been heard from again.

I have a book here written by a woman who was a girl in Nazi Germany. Her father, a loyal army officer who had serious misgivings about the whole regime, quietly got involved in a “Schindler’s List” type arrangement with a factory owner. When this was discovered he was arrested and secretly executed. Trump may not respond well to criticism but I’m not hearing anything about vocal Democrats being rounded up and quietly disposed of.

“The Worst Ever” Usually Means “I Haven’t Heard of Anything Else”

We live in a world of sensational superlatives. The media delights in them. “The worst pandemic in history”; “the biggest, the worse, the most devastating storm” ever. Climatic conditions like fires, droughts, hurricanes, are “the most calamitous,” “unsurvivable” and “portents of much worse to come.” Political races may be called “the most contentious” or “the most fateful decision ever.”

It’s rather thrilling to believe we actually live in an era of the worst ever. These days we seem to be surrounded by news and Facebook and Twitter working to sustain panic and fury. Many people are chanting some eulogy for the West — or America. I can’t predict whether things will get worse or better, but I do believe it would be great if more people were studying history.

Speaking of which, I’ve just started reading PROHIBITION: Thirteen Years that Changed America, by Edward Behr. Fascinating era!

Image by MabelAmber — Pixabay

“IF” We Were Conquered

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was WHAT IF
Sue’s Jibber Jabber prompt word is WIN
The Word of the Day challenge is THEME
Fandango’s writing challenge for today is APROPOS, a word which means “something both relevant and opportune” or “in an opportune time”

Putting these together, I have come up with…

“IF” Day in Winnipeg

As World War Two is raging across Europe, town counselors in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, asked the question, “WHAT IF the enemy conquers Europe, and proceeds to conquer Canada?”

Deciding to do something dramatic to demonstrate this APROPOS question, the city arranged for a takeover, calling it “IF Day.” This THEME had a two-fold purpose: it would give the citizens a small but realistic picture of what European cities were enduring — and what we’d be in for if the Axis powers would WIN the war — and it would prompt the sale of more war bonds.

Importing German army uniforms from Hollywood, and hiring actors for key roles, the city staged a takeover On Feb 19, 1942. The morning started with a mock battle involving more than 3,500 Canadian troops and reservists who battled it out realistically with weapons, tanks, smoke and gunshots. (This was, in fact, the largest military mobilization ever yet seen in the province.)

Citizens heard gunfire in the city’s outskirts; artillery smoke drifted over; routed Canadian forces fled through the downtown. Then came lines of “enemy” troops and armored personnel carriers, conducting their victory parade down Portage Avenue, which was renamed Adolfhitlerstrasse. Nazi soldiers marched into City hall; the Mayor and City counselors were arrested and led away to “an unknown fate.” The Nazi flag was hoisted over the city center.

A mock newspaper was printed up, the first section announcing the “victory” at Winnipeg and filled with Nazi propaganda. Among other proclamations, the Boy Scout troops were ordered to disband. The city’s Jews had to wear Star of David armbands. The latter part of the paper, however, contained serious accounts written by a number of the city’s immigrants, detailing what the Nazis had already done to their homelands.

As the day went on, citizens were harassed. One on-site reporter’s papers were seized and torn up; a city bus was stopped and all passengers had to provide ID. According to news accounts, this wasn’t polite questioning, either; they were “rough” searches. At once point Nazi officers stomped into a restaurant to arrogantly harass the staff and force out existing diners. According to an account written by Tristan Hopper, “This wasn’t just a few swastika flags carried through the town; civilians were quite literally being harassed and verbally abused by fake Nazis.”

“If Day” was a great demonstration and a huge success in rallying the citizens against Nazism. The sale of war bonds at that time raised $65 million. Still, “If Day” had to present a sanitized version of what Nazis actually did to captured cities. The year 1942 went down as the deadliest year of the Holocaust, as Nazi death squads used mass shootings and burnings to obliterate whole communities in Ukraine, Poland and other captured territory in Eastern Europe.

Free Book: When Night Comes

When Night Comes: Free on Amazon for one more day.

When I got Dan Walsh’s e-mail on Sunday I wanted to quickly do a write-up and and tell you all about this great book that’s free on Amazon right now. Sadly, the days have slipped by and there’s only day left to get this fast-paced suspense novel.

The story opens with Sergeant Joe Boyd arriving at the scene of a possible homicide. “Check it out, Joe. It’s pretty strange,” patrolman Hank Jensen told him.

Homicide or not, they definitely had a dead body in that bed. There was no mistaking that familiar smell… Boyd guessed the boy probably died late last night, or in the early evening. He walked to the bed and looked down at the body, then at the kid’s face.

Yeah, that’s weird.

As Sgt Boyd was contemplating this mysterious death, Jack Turner was arriving in Culpepper, GA, as a guest lecturer at the invitation of his old history prof and mentor, Thomas Thornton. Jack, with his Master’s in Military History, was planning on giving a series of lectures on WWII.

Within days Jack has several bizarre dreams. It’s like he’s gone back in time to the scenes he’s been describing in his lectures, being part of the action as it unfolds. And Jack isn’t the only one having dreams. Two students are dead after experiencing bizarre hallucinations that seemed to drive them mad.

Forced into this puzzling situation, Jack wants to discover the cause of his strange dreams. He teams up with Rachel, an old acquaintance, now an attractive young teaching assistant at the university. Together they do some investigating — but someone’s determined to stop them.

For me this book is a keeper, one I can read over several times and still shiver with the thrill of the story. And it’s a bonus that Jack returns in a second and third book in the series.

Dan says in his e-mail, “The Kindle version of When Night Comes is absolutely FREE for the next 5 days. If you enjoy reading it, there’s a sample chapter for Book 2 at the end, and an Amazon link.”

And now there’s only one more day! So if this book sounds appealing, here’s the link to Amazon .com. And here’s the LINK to his BLOG.

Thrift Shop Find: A Good Read

Book Review: THREE CAME HOME

When the Japanese army took over Borneo in May 1942, Agnes and Harry Keith and their 18- month-old son were taken prisoner along with others associated with the British colony there.  The men were put in one prison camp; the women and children in another, along with a group of nuns.

This insightful book reconstructs the scene immediately before the invasion, the two years and four months they were interred, and their trip home. If you don’t value your freedom enough, this book is a MUST READ.  With clarity and charity Mrs. Keith details life in the two prison camps, their ways of coping with abuse and starvation rations.  She describes guards, prison commanders and interpreters as well as her fellow prisoners.

In her opening she says,  “The Japanese in this book were as war made them, not as God did, and the same is true of the rest of us…  If there is hate here (in these pages), it is for hateful qualities, not nations.  If there is love, it is because this alone kept me alive and sane.”

Three Came Home, by Agnes Newton Keith © 1946, 1947
Published by Little Brown and Company,  Boston,  MA, USA

Agnes Newton Keith has also written LAND BELOW THE WIND, WHITE MAN RETURNS, and BAREFOOT IN THE PALACE.  Although I haven’t read LAND BELOW THE WIND, I know it describes their life in Borneo (an English colony in the South Pacific) before the war and the reviews were favorable.