Book Review: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / April 28, 2011

Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea was a strategic area during World War II, General McArthur made it his headquarters before the Philippines invasion. However, life was rough in Hollandia and the soldiers worked hard. To raise moral Colonel Peter Prossen gave the soldiers a treat – a sightseeing tour, from the air, of a lost valley unknown to cartographers complete with natives.
The valley was nicknamed Shangri-La

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

The day to day lives of the fighting men in the unforgiving Libyan dessert were tough. Not only fighting heat and exhaustion, but the British Army Dessert Rats, the Australians and New Zealanders were battling the Dessert Fox (Rommel). Rommel used what he knew about other generals to his advantage and the results were German victories.

The story moves on to 1943 where the Allies believe that Italy will be a piece of cake and they could move on the Germany. Italy did surrender but the Nazis kept on fighting. The book ends after the battles in Naples and Salerno where the Allies paid a high price for the victory and the beginning of the plan to attack the French coast.

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…

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