Book Review: The Perfect Nazi by Martin Davidson
4 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / April 27, 2011

I got this book for free. Article first published as Book Review: The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My Grandfather’s Secret Past by Martin Davidson on Blogcritics. My rating for The Perfect Nazi – 4 About: “The Perfect Nazi:Uncovering My Grandfather’s Secret Past” by Martin Davidson, a non-fiction book which follows the authors research about his grandfather, an SS officer. Mr. Davidson hit it on the nose when he wrote that this book “is a cautionary tale, a living example of the harm even little men can achieve in times of historical madness”. 384 pages Publisher: Putnam Adult ISBN: 9780399157011 Pur­chase “The Perfect Nazi” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: I have been working on the genealogy of my family for many years now.  I boast about 2,500 in my family tree going back to around 1,550. I have discovered lost cousins, opera singers, concert musicians but never, to my knowledge, anyone as notorious as Martin Davidson discovered in “The Perfect Nazi”. Mr. Davidson is a television producer for the BBC but as a child growing up in Scotland he thought his grandfather was simply a retired German dentist. However, Bruno Langbehn was no…

Book Review: The Rising Tide-A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara

I bought this book. My rating for The Rising Tide – 3 About: “The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II” by Jeff Shaara (website) is a historical fiction book which blends historical characters, fact and fiction into a readable story. The book is the first of a series about World War II. 608 pages Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 9780345461377 Pur­chase “The Rising Tide” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II” by Jeff Shaara is the first book of a series about WWII. The book explores the lesser known African campaign(s) which began in late1942. Mr. Shaara goes into the minds of such military greats as Eisenhower, Montgomery and Rommel as well as other generals and even the men in the field. The story moves chronologically to the shores of Italy and beyond following the day-to-day events through different minds, as is the Shaara style. Even though I did not think this is Mr. Shaara’s best work, I still enjoyed this book. This is an entertaining book but I think Mr. Shaara did not do justice to some of the character development…

Book Review: Heart of Deception by M.L. Malcolm
3 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / April 25, 2011

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion. My rating for Heart of Deception – 3 About: “Heart of Deception” by M.L. Malcolm (website | Facebook) is the fictional sequel to “Heart of Lies” (book review) picking up with the same cast of characters after World War II. 352 pages Publisher: Harper Paperbacks ISBN: 0061962196 Pur­chase “Heart of Deception” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Heart of Deception” by M.L. Malcolm is a followup to her first book. Unlike the first book, this is not a character study but it does move in the same fast pace. What disappointed me about the book is that most of it does not take place during World War II as was insinuated. The parts that do take place around that time, which I found interesting, were almost glossed over. There are so many promising premises which could have been expended, Leo’s Jewish heritage, his plight to get home etc. None were explored and if they were – vaguely. While Leo is touted as the main protagonist, the books is actually about Maddy, Leo’s daughter. That might explain why Leo’s…

Book Review: Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / April 24, 2011

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion. My rating for Heart of Lies – 4 About: “Heart of Lies” by M.L. Malcolm (website | Facebook) is the fictional tale of a family, inspired by the author’s husband, which takes place after World War I until the early days of World War II. 336 pages Publisher: Harper Paperbacks ISBN: 9780061962189 Pur­chase “Heart of Lies” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Heart of Lies” by M.L. Malcolm is a well written novel, with interesting characters and a fast read. Ms. Malcolm certainly knows how to write exotic scenery and move a story forward.  The international setting is exquisite, taking place mostly in Shanghai, the reader travels to Hungary, France and New York. While I did enjoy the book I felt that the mystery was one of the weakest points, as it is more a character study of a man trying to run away from his past. World War I and World War II are mentioned only in passing, but that’s understandable as the book starts in the aftermath of the first war and end in the beginning…

Factual Friday: Washington – A Life
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / April 22, 2011

It was announced this week that Ron Chernow’s most excellent biography of George Washington, aptly named “Washington: A Life” (book review) won the Pulitzer Prize. I think the prize is well deserved, Mr. Chernow has the ability to bring historical figures to life and his books read like novels. Here are a few interesting facts I learned from “Washington: A Life” and from our family trip to Washington’s estate in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. 1)      In the French and Indian War, while fighting in the British Army, Washington got hit with four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from underneath him. Washington remained unscathed which started his bullet proof reputation. 2)      George Washington always regretted not having a college education. 3)      Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon may look like it’s build out of stone, but it’s actually wood with sand thrown on the white paint. 4)      George Washington loved animals. Over his life he had over 30 dogs and when the Revolutionary War was over, he retired his horse Nelson and forbade anyone from using him for farm work. 5)      Martha Washington spent half of the Revolutionary War with her husband and used her time to fixed…

Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / April 20, 2011

I bought this book. My rating for Water for Elephants –4 About: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen is a boy meet girl story. However the setting is unique and the descriptions of early American circus scenes are well worth the admission price. 464 pages Pub­lisher: Algonquin Books ISBN: 9781616200718 Pur­chase “Water for Elephants” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Yes, I am jumping on the bandwagon and posting this entry just because the movie is coming out. Thoughts: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen is simple to read, an interesting story with engaging characters. Even though this novel is not perfect and a standard “boy meets girl” story it does have a charming setting, the descriptions are colorful and the characters are a variety of misfits; but somehow it all works and comes together very nicely for an entertaining read. While the book has its ups and downs, the narrative seems hurried at some points, the plot contains drama galore (stampedes, murders and many fights) Ms. Gruen’s managed to take an outrageous premise, combined with romanticism and make it enjoyable. There are pictures of real American circus scenes from the first half…

Book Review: Gated Grief by Leila Levinson
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / April 18, 2011

I got this book for free as a winner in a giveaway from Knitting and Sundries My rating for Gated Grief – 5 “I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world.” General Eisenhowser About: “Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma” by Leila Levinson who started the charity Veteran’s Children (website | Facebook | Twitter)  is a non-fiction book about the author’s five year research to understand her father’s trauma from liberating a concentration camp in World War II. The book is filled with graphic pictures which will stay with you for a long time. 272 pages Pub­lisher: Cable Publishing ISBN: 1934980544 Pur­chase “Gated Grief” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Gated Grief” by Leila Levinson is a powerful book which follows the author’s search  to find the truth about her father’s World War II experience, particularly the trauma he has suffered from witnessing the human cruelty while helping liberate Nordhausen concentration camp. Mrs. Levinson travels all over the world and the US in order to get firsthand accounts from other surviving liberators of Nazi camps. Throughout…

Factual Friday: Libraries
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / April 15, 2011

By Matl (own work (photography)) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons This week is National Library Week (April 10 – 16, 2011) sponsored by the American Library Association (website | Twitter | Facebook). Pub­lic libraries are some of the few pub­lic build­ings the pub­lic actu­ally uses. Whether you are rich or poor, edu­cated or not and no mat­ter to which polit­i­cal party you donated to, you are always wel­come at your local library – they are the great equal­izer of our society. Probably due to that fact, libraries have been bombarded with budget cuts all over the world (but that’s OK as long as the politicians get a raise for the mass they created). National Library Week has been around since 1958 and some schools make it National Library Month. If you haven’t been to the library recently I encourage you to do so. A day at the library is a “fun day” in our house – the library provides games, the kids can play, read some books, flutz around on the kids’ computer and all for free. The librarians are always very helpful, even I, who has been in the IT industry for over 20 years, acknowledge their superiority over…

Book Review: A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion. The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (1) copy of “A Fierce Radiance” to be given out– enter at the end of the post. My rating for A Fierce Radiance – 5 About: “A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer (website) is a historical fiction book about the search for penicillin. The push came during World War II when the need for this miracle drug became as important as any weapon. 532 pages Publisher: Harper ISBN: 0061252514 Pur­chase “A Fierce Radiance” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “A Fierce Radiance” by Lauren Belfer is a well written book which is compelling and interesting. There are spies, sex, big money, scrupulous industrialists, incorruptible scientist as well as corruptible ones. The book is suppose to me a mystery, but the real mystery is how Ms. Belfer succeeded in making a book about penicillin so interesting. Ms. Belfer tells us that on “D-Day, in June 1944, every medic going ashore in France carried penicillin in his pack”. That is an amazing achievement if you think about it. Before the ability to tame penicillin one…

Classic Lit for Kids – Getting Started
Latest Posts , Opinion / April 13, 2011

As a big proponent of public education (and a critic) I realize the tough jobs teachers face and, as a former part-time instructor, I know the difficult job at hand. However, schools no longer teach a comprehensive, deeper understanding of literature due to the pressure on teachers to teach for standardize tests at the expense of critical thinking abilities. Six years ago, that became my job. Last weekend I took my son (3) to Barnes & Noble for a cup of coffee (daddy), a Batman book (for him but that’s often disputed in our household) and a creme puff which he generously split with his old man. While at the store I was looking for a book for my daughter (6), because as you know, a parent cannot buy for one child without the other getting anything. The fact that mother and daughter went $hopping for a $ummer wardrobe the day before is, seemingly, inconsequential when it comes to bestowing Bat-gifts upon her younger brother. Due to my spectacular failures of intro-to-classics in the past (“Charlotte’s Web” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) when she was younger I had to be extra careful. My beloved wife also had a few…

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