Wendy Lower's Hitler's Furies attempts to provide information on the often-ignored topic of female participation in the Holocaust. The inner flap of tWendy Lower's Hitler's Furies attempts to provide information on the often-ignored topic of female participation in the Holocaust. The inner flap of the cover states: "The long-held picture of German women holding down the home front, as loyal wives and as cheerleaders for the Fuhrer, pales in comparison to Lower's incisive case for the massive complicity, and worse, of the 500,000 young women she places, for the first time, directly in the killing fields of the expanding Reich." Furthermore, it says this book "will challenge our deepest beliefs: genocide is women's business too..." Does the book deliver this? Not really.
I think the topic itself is important. I also agree with Lower that women's role in the Holocaust (however removed they were) tends to be overlooked, even though it really should be obvious that they played a part. Lower claims there is much more to this than women as bystanders. She begins by giving broad information about why and how women became involved in working for the Nazis. This was mainly due to the fact that it offered them better career opportunities or a way out of a life they were unhappy with. And she repeats this multiple times. That was one issue I had with her writing, that it could be quite repetitive. She does do a good job at showing how all-encompassing the Nazi Party was over German society, but I'd imagine that most people already know that anyways. I also found there to be too much general context about the Holocaust. Context is usually always good, but again, this is the kind of stuff that I can't imagine the reader not already knowing. Nonetheless, the beginning of the book flowed well.
To prove her claim that women had an active role in the Holocaust, she focuses on 13 women whose occupations mainly were nurses and secretaries, but also a couple women who joined their husbands in the Nazi-occupied East. I don't think having a limited number of specific examples is necessarily a bad thing, but these women are just not great examples. Only a few of these women were actually directly involved in any killings; for the most part they were removed from the killing sites by varying degrees. At the end of the "Perpetrators" chapter, Lower can only estimate the number of women who actively killed, and while her numbers are not outrageous by any means, it's not exactly very convincing, especially since she only had a few direct examples to use.
My issue with the book, as others have pointed out, is that Lower's evidence does not exactly meet her claims as I took them. If you take the title for what it is, that of women's involvement in the Holocaust (but not necessarily implying them as direct killers), I think it's fine. It's the claims she makes that I interpreted as a more personal, direct involvement from women that do not work. Using a few examples of this is not substantial enough and estimations that more women actually killed than she provides examples for is also not enough. More work definitely needs to be done in integrating women's role in the Holocaust because it really is an overlooked topic. However, it should not be overstated. Based on the evidence Lower provides, these women were not cold-blooded killers, but were largely removed from doing any direct killing themselves, although the book seems to state otherwise.
Did the book "challenge my deepest beliefs"? No. Not at all. You could probably tell me anything about the Holocaust and I'd think 'yeah, probably.' Is anything really shocking when it comes to this topic? We know how brutal the Germans were, and even if women had been more participatory I wouldn't have exactly been surprised. I think a lot can be taken away from Lower's account and used as a basis for further research on German women's roles in the Nazi state. The book is also extremely accessible - it's only 200 pages with plenty of context and clear writing. It just doesn't accomplish what I think Lower intended to do....more
I had actually picked this up just to use as a source for a paper, but it looked interesting so I decided to read through it. In this book, Ellis giveI had actually picked this up just to use as a source for a paper, but it looked interesting so I decided to read through it. In this book, Ellis gives readers a look at life in the trenches on the Western Front. Even though the title doesn't specify the west, and while trenches existed elsewhere, no other front was really comparable in terms of its trench systems and their usage.
Although the book is only about 205 pages to actually read, I was impressed with how detailed Ellis could be and how vividly he created a picture for readers. His own writing is aided by plenty of first-hand accounts and a ton of pictures - most of which I had never seen. Ellis touches on all the main topics you would expect to find, but it's the way he writes and the exact primary sources he uses that really make the book. You get an idea of the soldiers' fear, frustrations, camaraderie, boredom and their thoughts on the war, along with a sense of how disconnected the home front was from reality. I also appreciated that he didn't spare much detail when describing life in the trenches, so you really do get a good understanding of what the men went through.
He sat for about two minutes, then he got up again to show what he was saying to the captain, and was just opening his mouth when he got shot. I caught him as he was falling and jumped into a shell hole with him. I held his head against my breast till it was all over. Madam, I cried till my heart was liking to burst.
The book is definitely centred on the British. There are quite a number of French accounts used throughout, but less so from the Germans. I do like the attempt to make it sort of even or provide even coverage, but for my personal interests, I would have loved more from the German point of view. There's also no bibliography. This is the second book I've read in the last two months without one. Why would someone not include one? There were a couple times I wanted to check his sources, but alas... There are credits for the images and a suggested reading list, but that's it.
Eye-Deep in Hell is quite an easy, quick read, but one that certainly makes an impression. Ellis creates an incredibly detailed and vivid look a life in the trenches during the First World War. And what you come away with after reading is that life on the Western Front really was hell, to say the least. World War I is always getting the shaft because of World War II, but it's important to remember what these men had to endure....more
Even though I study the First World War, there's plenty of stuff I don't know about it, or don't know well enough. I understand the general outline ofEven though I study the First World War, there's plenty of stuff I don't know about it, or don't know well enough. I understand the general outline of it and, also generally, about certain battles. But I find this war pretty daunting to try and read about. This really hit me when I tried reading - for like the third time - Jack Sheldon's The German Army at Ypres 1914 and I had no idea what I was even reading. Not only because it was so detailed, but because I really didn't know enough about Ypres at all. So, I wanted something much more general.
And that is exactly what this book is. It covers the entire war - including all fronts, both war at sea and in the air, and bits of the home front - in broad terms. So you get a quick overview of battles and their outcomes without anything being too in-depth or complicated. And I really appreciated that. This isn't something you are going to use for a research paper or finish reading and think you're an expert on the First World War. It's simply a basic, but well done overview of a huge, and hugely complicated, war. While I did enjoy it, there's nothing that's exactly going to wow you either. It's just a good read for those looking for something along these lines before getting into more detailed books about the war....more
Reading reviews of some books can get your hopes up for something to be much better than it actually is once you've finished reading it. It's disappoiReading reviews of some books can get your hopes up for something to be much better than it actually is once you've finished reading it. It's disappointing and it's happened to me more than once. I'm not going to lie, I was expecting the opposite with this book; I was going into it expecting it to be bad. While American Sniper has received tons and tons of positive reviews, I felt like the negative ones were probably more telling. In my mind, most of those positive reviews had to come from a blind support for the American military, and therefore were not critical enough, or the reviewers were afraid to be critical. Of course, the only way I was going to know for myself was to read it.
Starting off, I didn't think it was that bad, although I felt an almost fake humility at the beginning: "The Navy credits me with more kills as a sniper than any other American service member, past or present. I guess that's true." Like, just own it. You're writing your own biography for that exact reason. I also didn't love the whole 'just a simple, southern, god-fearing American'-type he portrayed himself as. I figured that also wouldn't translate well into being deployed. He gives a bit of his background growing up, which was a bit dull but allows you to get to know him better. I actually enjoyed reading about his training and his mindset throughout it. Definitely didn't like reading about the hazing and all the bar fights, though.
I've seen some complaints about Kyle's writing. There really isn't anything pretty about it - it's simple and direct, almost as if someone was telling you a story face to face. I guess maybe people think it should have been better considering he had two co-authors? It doesn't really matter to me; it's his book and he's not a writer. My issue with the book started to appear once he began describing his deployments. It always felt very jumpy. Like all of a sudden he would be somewhere doing something and you're in the middle of it and then it's over. There's never much description and never any build up. This means that there's really no feeling that goes along with it for the reader because the excitement isn't there; it's over as soon as it starts.
There were also certain statements I really didn't enjoy, along with further details of hazing. A couple of these included: "At one point, I told the Army colonel, 'I don't shoot people with Korans - I'd like to but I don't'" and "On the front of my arm, I had a crusader cross inked in. I wanted everyone to know I was a Christian. I had it put in red, for blood." Come on. However, I have read complaints about how Kyle refers to the Iraqis, calling them savages and similar names. From my understanding, he only does this when talking about the actual insurgents, not the unarmed civilians. And then there's plenty more descriptions of bar fights, where him and his fellow SEALs easily get off the hook, which is total BS.
Upon finishing it, I can honestly say it was not as bad as I was expecting it to be. For the most part, he really didn't seem like a bad guy and some of the negative reviews I read of the book I think were reaching. However, the book is not without problems. While I don't mind his writing style (after all, he's not a writer), I think the two co-authors could've been put to much better use in how the story was told. As I said, there's no build-up to anything and therefore no excitement. Because of that the book is severely lacking. When I read a war memoir, I want to be there with the author and feel things as I read. This book doesn't provide that at all. But it is a very easy read; you can take down 100 pages in no time.
All in all, I'm sure there are better books on the conflict or by SEALs and their experiences if you're interested in that. I gave it 2 stars mostly for the fact that the book really didn't deliver. Perhaps it'll make a better movie....more
The author, Herbert Sulzbach, lived an interesting life to say the least. Born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main in 1894, he volunteered for wThe author, Herbert Sulzbach, lived an interesting life to say the least. Born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main in 1894, he volunteered for war service and spent a full four years fighting in the German army, almost entirely in the Western Front save for a very short stint in the east. Regardless of having served his country during the war, he fled Germany in the 1930s when the Nazis came to power. After struggling to make a living in England, he eventually joined the British Army during the Second World War. After this he essentially spent the rest of his life trying to make good in German-British relations. All in all, he seemed like a very good man. With the German Guns: Four Years on the Western Front is his account of his time with the artillery during the First World War.
The book is written diary-style, meaning it's basically small/small-ish paragraphs broken up by date. I don't really think I enjoy this style very much. To me, it breaks up the flow of the story. I do enjoy it in some instances, as, for example, we get to see what occurred in a day for someone on the front. However, I think it takes away from the excitement a bit too. This guy was in some of the most major battles on the Western Front and yet none of that really comes through in the book. Most of the time, of course, he wasn't on the front line, so it is partly understandable. As far as a war memoir goes, to me this one was a bit lacking. I never felt much excitement or fear or sadness - it was simply relaying what occurred. I did really like his friendship with Kurt and there are some great passages in here, such as:
We stand beside the guns with the horses. A dreadful night comes down on us. We have seen too many horrible things all at once, and the smell of the smoking ruins, the lowing of the deserted cattle and the rattle of machine-gun fire make a very strong impression on us, barely twenty years old as we are, but these things also harden us up for what is going to come.
I think, overall, this type of writing doesn't really characterize the book. I mostly felt detached from what the author was experiencing. He says a few times that it's difficult to put into words exactly what he's seen and gone through. I have no doubt, but as a reader I still felt the book was lacking.
In the end, I wasn't super thrilled by this book. It's not bad by any means and I did like the insight given into daily life for someone on the Western Front. If you are looking for a gripping war story, however, you will not find that with this book. I wouldn't say to skip this, but I would not recommend it as a first choice for German First World War memoirs. All in all, Sulzbach seemed like a very good man, his positivity is definitely something to be admired, and it's incredible that he managed to not only survive the war, but make it out unwounded....more
Even though I took a few Canadian history classes in undergrad, the profs never seemed to devote much time to Canada's military exploits, not even ourEven though I took a few Canadian history classes in undergrad, the profs never seemed to devote much time to Canada's military exploits, not even our involvement in the two World Wars. With Gwynne Dyer's Canada in the Great Power Game, 1914-2014, I was hoping to get a sort of overview of our military history fighting wars abroad which I had never really gotten in school. This book, however, is not just a listing of what Canada has involved itself in militarily since 1914. Rather, Dyer attempts "to make sense of our country's century of involvement in big and little wars, all of them far from home and none of them threatening what strategists like to call our 'vital interests.' Not just to recount the wars, but to account for them." That's the premise of the book in two short sentences. And what an interesting premise it is. Were we/are we really out there fighting for 'the greater good' and self-defense, or are we dragged into these wars because of our relations with other countries and international power plays?
Dyer actually begins the book with the Boer War, which I had no idea any Canadians even fought in. Britain was hoping to send Canadian troops into South Africa to aid the British fighting the Boers in order to take over the natural resources in the territory they held. Whether or not to send troops was an issue. French Canadians were against the idea, but English Canadians felt more obligated. What ended up being decided was that the Canadian government would gather troops, but make them out as volunteers. Then-Prime Minister Laurier stated that this would not set a precedent for further Canadian military involvement, but others new it certainly would. And it was only months after the Boer War ended that Britain attempted to get Canada to place some of its forces in an 'imperial reserve.' Although that did not pan out, what did end up happening was that Britain created a General Staff comprised of men from the Empire, in which troops were trained in a standardized way. This meant that if there were to be a war, forces throughout the Empire could easily fight together.
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, that meant Canada was at war as well. Many Canadians were excited about the war, although numbers of men signing up to go fight fell very short of what was expected. Nonetheless, Canada performed extremely well during the First World War and its men became known for their skills in battle. And if you are Canadian, you know that the First World War, especially Vimy, was Canada's "national awakening," so to speak. From this arose the desire to become more independent and exert sovereignty. With the creation of the League of Nations, Canada fought to have a voice; however, part of the premise of the League was defending member countries from aggressors to preserve peace around the world. Canada, like the United States, was not really in a position to ever be threatened militarily. Why should Canada risk the lives of its men to fight wars abroad that would never pose a threat to its own security?
When the 1930s rolled around and another war looked like it might be in the near future, Canada faced the dilemma of whether or not to get involved. Like any time previously, its geographic location meant it would not be in danger because of a war in Europe. Here Dyer includes a quote from Lester Pearson in 1938: "...But if I am tempted to become completely cynical and isolationist, I think of Hitler screeching into the microphone, Jewish women and children in ditches on the Polish border... and then, whatever the British side may represent, the other does indeed stand for savagery and barbarism." King's goal was to fight a limited war - no conscription, only volunteers and focusing on war in the air and at sea. In fact, conscription was postponed so far into the war that by the time it was introduced there was no serious outrage, as there had been during the First World War.
By the 1950s Canada, as a member of both the UN and NATO, had to deal with the issue of the Korean War. Unlike in the two World Wars, the 'Communist threat' united both French and English Canadians and so there was no major upset when Canadian troops were sent overseas. However, although Canada had sent troops, those involved in the decision making did not agree to how the US chose to conduct the war on the peninsula. Then came America's war with Vietnam, which was unsupported by Canadians. During the Cold War was the whole issue of nuclear armament for the possibility of nuclear war - even though there never was much of a possibility of this actually happening. This was really the one time where Canada's geographic location became problematic, as the fastest way for both the USSR and the US to reach each other was through Canadian airspace.
The book sorta putters out after the Cold War, which I was a little disappointed in. Our peacekeeping role is only briefly touched on maybe two times or so. Dyer does bring up that we had troops in Bosnia and Croatia during the wars there, but I would have liked to read more about that, especially since they did see combat. He also thinks rather highly of the UN and does indeed show where it does good, but doesn't really touch on where it fell (horribly) short - Bosnia, Rwanda (especially considering a Canadian was in charge of the UN mission there). Afghanistan and Iraq both receive some attention, but again, it's pretty short. The more recent the event is, the less I know about it, so I was hoping for more there.
One thing I definitely did not like was the chapter "Would a German Victory Have Been Worse?" It's not that I don't think Dyer was making good points or that I disagreed with him, it's just that I don't like reading 'what would have happened?' theories simply because we can't ever know. He doesn't extend this far enough that things become totally implausible (which he states himself), but with something so complex there's no definitive answer to what the post-war situation would have been like. This same thing comes up again in "What if We had Not Fought Hitler?" For me, this stuff just is not interesting and nothing can be proven.
I really enjoyed Dyer's writing. It's simple and straight-forward. I also really like the mostly chronological organisation of the book. I think it's much easier to understand when the information flows naturally by date. Sometimes thematically organised books work really well, but this one would have not. I also liked all the quotes he used; these all came from people he named and had a significant role in whatever was being discussed.
...Well yes, of course. It was the great moment of American imperialism at its height, when they really felt they had the answers to everything in the world, and had dozens of alliances, and were willing to move into any cabbage patch anywhere in the world and fight against Communism or feudalism or anything which didn't go with the American way of life. It was rather overpowering. (Charles Ritchie)
Q. What inspired Sutherland Brown to think that way in the 1920s - I mean, a war with the United States? A. Well, I don't know. I think possibly there wasn't any other war to think about. (laughter) (General E.L.M. Burns)
An issue I had with that book is that there is no bibliography. There are no end notes. There are no footnotes. How I am I supposed to know where Dyer got his information? How much is factual and how much is his own opinion? Considering I have no idea who this guy is, should I be trusting everything he's telling me? After reading his profile online I think it's fair to say he definitely knows what he's talking about and that what he is presenting is factual. Still, when he's saying anywhere from a quarter to a third of all shells used by the British in WWI were Canadian-made, or similar facts, I'd like a source for that. I simply can't understand why there are no sources in this book.
Overall, I really really liked this book. It was thorough, informative and just enjoyable to read. The lack of a bibliography, however, is definitely a problem and I wish there would have been more information about what was going on after the Cold War. I also could have lived without those two 'what-if?' chapters. I think this book works both if you are looking to read more about Canada's military history or if you want to understand more about what pulls us into wars. With all that being said, I for sure recommend this one....more
From what I've gathered, The Great War and Modern Memory is one of THE books on the First World War. Wanting to do more reading on the Great War, I thFrom what I've gathered, The Great War and Modern Memory is one of THE books on the First World War. Wanting to do more reading on the Great War, I thought I'd give it a go. I slugged through this for well over a month and, honestly, I was glad to be done it. If you are interested in the literary aspect of First World War writing, then I'm sure this book is great. If you are hoping to learn more about the soldier experience from the war based on what they wrote, well, you might have to look elsewhere.
Initially, I actually enjoyed the book and I thought it was going to be something I was going to get into. I loved the parts on how British and German soldiers viewed (or, thought of, I should say) each other, their descriptions of what they saw, how close England was and little bits here and there. However, the book was just too literary for me. And I totally understand that that's not really a valid criticism of this book since that's exactly what it focuses on, but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it because of that. I mostly interest myself with the Germans in both World Wars, so I was interested in seeing more from the British side, but I didn't feel like this book really covered the war experience for your average Brit overseas in France or Belgium.
First of all, I really do not like poetry. Never have. Needless to say, there's a lot of poetry in this book. There's also lots of discussion that relates to British literary traditions and the literature that had been published before the war, and some readers, like myself, may not be very well acquainted with any of that. I loathed the parts rambling on about pastoral landscapes and young, blond boys. Fussell also very much focuses on the big names of British First World War writing - namely Blunden, Owens and Sassoon. Of course plenty of other authors make their way into the book, but I'd say these three figures dominate. This is something else I am not acquainted with. I have never read anything by these men and for the time being I don't plan to. But, are these men really representative of the writing from the war? They were educated, higher ranking and outside of the war seemed to have very relaxed, undemanding lives. I understand that they fit quite neatly into what Fussell wants to demonstrate with his book, but I wanted more from the other guys, too.
Overall I was not a fan of this. I don't really care enough to look into criticisms of the book from an academic standpoint, but just as something interesting to read, it rarely captured me. I also thought the end was really disappointing and didn't wrap things up well enough. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely some interesting stuff in here. And, if you are into literature then I'd imagine this book would be quite enjoyable. There wasn't anything wrong with Fussell's writing for my tastes, but it was the content that generally failed to grab me. If you're like me and beginning your trek through books on the First World War, I would suggest saving this one for later....more