1. lots of things I didn't know / was too young, plus more perspective on things I was vaguely aware of. Good modern military survey to present day. 21. lots of things I didn't know / was too young, plus more perspective on things I was vaguely aware of. Good modern military survey to present day. 2. lol Reagan: pathological or irresponsible due to dementia or both? 3. military contractors buying underage sex slaves in Bosnia FOR REAL? wtf 4. unsustainability of military industrial complex 5. interesting follow up to Hitchens's "Hitch-22" perspective on going to war against Saddam, also the bit gleaned from Kristoff's "Women hold up half the sky" (story of girl hurried into arranged marriage rather than fall prey to the dictator). 6. lots about how the founding fathers did not intend for us to have a standing military 7. irresponsible clumsy dropping of nukes all over the place 8. wtf, government, wtf...more
The first six CDs contain a fascinating and well-written narrative detailing amazing episodes in the life of Edwige, her father, and the uncle who raiThe first six CDs contain a fascinating and well-written narrative detailing amazing episodes in the life of Edwige, her father, and the uncle who raised her for much of her childhood. The seventh CD breaks your heart....more
Interesting account of what the 350 US prisoners-of-war (and some European concentration camp prisoners went through) at and after the labor camp of BInteresting account of what the 350 US prisoners-of-war (and some European concentration camp prisoners went through) at and after the labor camp of Berga. I'm not sure how the author chose the (Jewish) Hungarian civilians profiled in this story, which was not woven back in with the story of the American Soldiers until 2/3rds of the way through the book, and even then it was just a mention that they both happened to be at the same camp and did not interact.
We're familiar with the concept of concentration camps and forced labor camps at this point, but the Allies apparently had no idea of what was going on. Although the 350 US soldiers (mostly chosen because German soldiers felt they were Jews, whether or not this was true) were sent to Berga in 1944, when the war was nearly over, they were still worked to death in dramatic numbers. The book includes the story of their conditions in the camp, the labor assignments, their death march and ultimate liberation, and a couple escape attempts. How shocked they were that the German soldiers were not abiding by the Geneva conventions for prisoners of war.
Ultimately, 73 of the 350 died, in addition to the millions of civilians killed in similar ways. It's a tragic story. I'm not sure if there was any intent to make the reader/listener feel MORE compassion towards the American vs. European prisoners, or more shock? There was certainly some effort to show that the German people were at least complicit in much of the proceedings and the blame cannot be shifted wholly on to Hitler and the SS. That there is a lot of residual shame and denial in Germany - but that there are lessons to be learned. That acting as an agent of a government does not absolve one of having a conscience. That modern Germany can honor those who took a stand against the overwhelming current of the time.
I spent a lot of time thinking about modern interrogation, the conditions at Guantanamo, and how the American people are aware that we have been engaging in torture even if our leaders are not willing to call it that. Anyway, politics aside.
I really appreciate that the author took advantage of the 60+ year lag since the unfolding of these events to provide updates, some sense of closure to the story. It's worth explaining why we have not heard a lot about Americans being sent to labor or concentration camps. The survivors were made to sign confidentiality agreements, which is ridiculous enough, because apparently speaking out could have some detrimental impact against POWs in Japan or Allied control of Western Germany (where Berga was located)?? American survivors were ashamed and felt no one could understand their unique and terrible experience, and they were even prevented from testifying at the trials of their abusers, which ridiculously enough resulted in reduced sentences because a burden of proof was not felt to have been met. Some were even denied disability benefits, and little attempt at compensation was made until more than 50 years later.
Ultimately part of surviving seems to be the ability to move beyond past injustices and move forward with one's life in a direction of one's own choosing, rather than letting hate fester inside until the end of your time here on Earth. I do think there is something empowering about that. ...more
I appreciated hearing (the fictionalized approximation of) the story of Valentino Achak Deng. It is a moving story of humanity, hardship, and survivalI appreciated hearing (the fictionalized approximation of) the story of Valentino Achak Deng. It is a moving story of humanity, hardship, and survival.
I had not previously studied much about the "Lost Boys" of Sudan (although I was familiar with the term) and did not realize the extent of their marches across the desert and YEARS in refugee camps, or the political circumstances leading to the abandonment of their homes, and I hadn't known much about the trials and tribulations of the Sudanese refugee population in the U.S. I am only a few years younger than Valentino, but I had a pretty narrow world view in the '80s and '90s. This book was really able to bring that time alive for me.
Still I couldn't bring myself to give more than 3.5 stars. I resent the "fictionalization" of his story, not knowing what I can trust. I don't think it was retold by Eggers as well as it could have been. All autobiographies involve some degree of speculation and the possibility of remembering things in ways other than they may have actually happened -- surely his story could be told to someone, edited for clarity, pieced back together, and NOT injected with fiction growth hormones.
There were some clumsy literary devices, some foreshadowing that spoiled later events, and a whole lot of parts that left me utterly confused at how we had gotten to where we were. Major events were introduced with little fanfare, passing me by before I realized they had even begun (and maybe this is a flaw of the audiobook format, not having the visual clue of new paragraphs). There was one occasion in which I inserted the next CD well out of order (#14 instead of #12) and didn't realize until halfway through that I had missed several chapters of action in the camp. I have never read anything else by Eggers and this example did not leave me looking for more. But I appreciate the work he did in bringing this story to light, and I feel it is admirable that he is donating all proceeds to Valentino's foundation.
I enjoyed the synchronicity of reading this book just as news spread of a vote for secession in Southern Sudan, and was glad to hear that Valentino is now back building schools in Marial Bai.
Ultimately, I think it is a fine book and would not discourage anyone from reading it, but I also would not go out of my way to recommend it to anyone, and that's what leaves me unable to bump it up to the next "star" level....more
Very interesting book, grim subject matter. It gave me a much different perspective than the other works I have read about this war, and I felt like iVery interesting book, grim subject matter. It gave me a much different perspective than the other works I have read about this war, and I felt like it helped me get a better understanding of who was fighting whom and why.
As a native to this region, she brings real perspective to the subject matter. After the war, author uprooted herself to go and observe trials in The Hague. I think she raises a lot of profound issues pertaining to justice following the war, the "TV Set Mentality", and how hard it will be to bring people to justice.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the major players, including Mladic, Karadžic, and most famously Milošević, and just wished she'd published after his 'untimely' death near the end of his trial. The book does not just delve into the atrocities they committed, but the sentences handed down to them by the ICTY (the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia), and the conditions of their detention together in Scheveningen....more
I'm giving this book an extra star because it does a decent job recapping the history of the west over the past century or so, something my public schI'm giving this book an extra star because it does a decent job recapping the history of the west over the past century or so, something my public school education failed to do. Good, if shallow, reflection on capitalism, social democracy, communism, and a lack of self-determinism in the banana republics.
A few interesting facts, like that the banana no longer is capable of reproduction and new plants are simply grafted, that this monoculture is precariously close to being wiped out by a disease and instead of planting a variety of strains, fruit corporations have decided to go with the "dump as many chemicals as possible" route to continued production.
The railroad construction, first couple dozen pages of the book, bored me to sleep but got a bit more interesting after that. Amazing to see the way the tentacles of "el pulpo" affected the history of so many countries.
Most of the interviews the author conducted in person took place over 20 years ago. While I'm sure they were a great source of inspiration, he has not really updated much on the subject since then....more
Remind me to write something later about "impartiality" in peace & justice work.
The next to last chapter, p.376-382, is where he finally reveals hRemind me to write something later about "impartiality" in peace & justice work.
The next to last chapter, p.376-382, is where he finally reveals his thesis. It's interesting. And the stuff that comes before does seem to show Mr. Murphy had expert knowledge of what was going on in Bosnia and what was failing in the international community.
This book is frustrating. The first 90% is mostly the UN perspective from one diplomat in Sarajevo... Which is useful for making one realize that she does not want to do that for a living.
The editing is poor: aside from typos, the author has a habit of jumping around in his chronological ordering, telling the same story multiple times, pages apart, leaving the reader with a confused sense that she may have just lost her place. Adjectives, likewise repeat themselves: the angry mourners shook their fists in an angry gesture.
The life experience was fascinating I'm sure, and am glad for the author's sake he has been able to pass this bit of family history down to his children, but it is not exactly the perspective I was hoping for....more