I felt this was an important book to read now, as we feel a rise of nationalism, bigotry, xenophobia, and scapegoating in our current politics. I'm prI felt this was an important book to read now, as we feel a rise of nationalism, bigotry, xenophobia, and scapegoating in our current politics. I'm probably not the only one who has wondered what I would have done if I'd been a German citizen in the 1930s. It's so easy to look back in judgment, but what was it like then? Here's an account of someone who DID stand up to this evil, and did it on the basis of his faith. Most of the Christian church in Germany & Italy did not follow this example. Was that out of fear, ignorance, or something else? Again, what would I have done?
Put another way, how does one recognize when the normal disagreements of the political process have crossed the line into something that requires moral opposition, including all of the consequences? I think that's difficult. It was amazing to read how early Bonhoeffer and others in the Confessing Church figured out they needed to speak up, however. They did this in 1933, in response to the infamous Aryan Paragraph. That was inspiring.
Now, I think they made a mistake of their time in insisting (and failing) that their church displace the official German Church that had failed to oppose Nazism. That set the bar too high, and I think they could've potentially done more with a more measured response that allowed wider participation in an alternate church within Germany. But that's easier to see now, after-the-fact.
It was painful to read how slow the internal German resistance was to act. Though there was both practical military/political opposition to what Hitler was doing to the country, along with moral opposition, there was no significant action for many years. In the book, Churchill is criticized for failing to offer assistance to this resistance, but I don't buy it. We've heard more stories of active resistance in France, Denmark, the Ukraine, and other places. The German resistance movement was too little, too late. It took all the way to July '44 for anything to happen, and that was through the dynamic action of von Stauffenberg. He was the man of action needed earlier.
I don't agree with all of Bonhoeffer's conservative theology, being a liberal Christian myself. (In fact, it was very useful to me to read a list of other liberal Christian theologians that Bonhoeffer disagreed with--more for me to read in my own explorations of faith.) But we agree on so much more than we disagree on. He's someone I might have enjoyed to have challenging theological discussions with. Perhaps that's something I'll some day be able to do. Regardless, he is someone to be admired as a person, and as a Christian.
(He was ultimately arrested, held in prison for two years, and executed just a week before Hitler's suicide, and two weeks before the liberating troops got to his position. Though for his role in Canaris' internal resistance movement, and his distant relationship to the July 1944 assassination attempt, I'm certain he would not have lived in any case.)
Very good. I'm sure I'd heard the author before on This American Life, or something, but I'd never read any of her books. Actually, listening on audioVery good. I'm sure I'd heard the author before on This American Life, or something, but I'd never read any of her books. Actually, listening on audiobook is better, since you get her unusual voice, which adds to the charm (along with a lot of guest voices).
What surprised me was how much this was a straight history of events of our Revolutionary War. It's sprinkled with humor, sure, but history is the main part. Along with some editorial commentary by Vowell. Her point seems to be that strong disagreement is nothing new in our democracy. Though it can be frustrating to live through in the present day, it is reassuring to see how we've made it through dark periods before.
At the same time, the passage that will stick with me is this one, about political compromise, civility, and perhaps even friendship among patriots with differing opinions.
“I wish that the founders had had the foresight to hang on to and enshrine another one of Independence Hall’s chairs, the one that Benjamin Rush mentioned in a letter to John Adams about how Thomas Jefferson objected when his colleagues in the Continental Congress considered a fast day, which Jefferson pooh-poohed as too religious. Rush reminded Adams, ‘You rose and defended the motion, and in reply to Mr. Jefferson’s objections to Christianity you said you were sorry to hear such sentiments …. You suspected, you told me, that you had offended him, but that he soon convinced you to the contrary by crossing the room and taking a seat in the chair next to you.’
Who knows what happened to that particular chair. … But it might have been a more helpful, sobering symbolic object than that chair with the rising sun. Then perhaps citizens making pilgrimages to Independence Hall could file past the chair Jefferson walked across an aisle to sit in, and we could all ponder the amount of respect, affection, and wishy-washy give-and-take needed to keep a house divided in reasonable repair.” ― Sarah Vowell, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States...more
It was ok. My expectations were high, because I'm so entertained by Amy Poehler. Not just entertained, but I like her feminism. However, perhaps I likIt was ok. My expectations were high, because I'm so entertained by Amy Poehler. Not just entertained, but I like her feminism. However, perhaps I like her onscreen character Leslie Knope more than the actress who plays her. I'd previously commented that Parks & Rec was better than 30 Rock because P&R has heart where 30R has sharp edges. That's true for the shoes, but as a performer, Amy Poehler has her own sharp edges. No real fault in that, just not my favorite. The book has a lot of name-dropping, inside-comedy stories. People who love that (for instance, fans of Marc Maron's WTF podcast) should love this. I, on the other hand, preferred the personal memoir of Mindy Kaling in her book....more
Until recently I didn't understand all of Imperial Japan's closely coordinated attacks that happened nearly simultaneously to the Pearl Harbor raid. TUntil recently I didn't understand all of Imperial Japan's closely coordinated attacks that happened nearly simultaneously to the Pearl Harbor raid. The attack on the Philippines is of special interest because a friend lost a relative there, a young soldier who'd enlisted only months before, and was deployed as a radio operator with a Philippines squadron of pursuit planes (P-40s). He'd only arrived weeks before the attack, and died in the initial bombing. That led me to learn about this entire campaign, which ended in a heroic defense of the Bataan peninsula but started with grave strategic errors by American high command (i.e. MacArthur). They had 9-hours warning after Pearl Harbor, and yet suffered a similar fate with planes parked together, and largely destroyed on the ground. Japan gained air superiority very easily....more
I'm beginning to appreciate most of the Osprey books I get about a particular battle or campaign. More detailed than a Wikipedia article, and sometimeI'm beginning to appreciate most of the Osprey books I get about a particular battle or campaign. More detailed than a Wikipedia article, and sometimes with better maps (always better illustrations/photos)...but far fewer pages than a "real" book about the same subject. This one was no different....more
Part of my research into the period of December 41 in the Pacific. Maps are pretty good, but mostly "pretty" paintings at an oblique angle, sometimesPart of my research into the period of December 41 in the Pacific. Maps are pretty good, but mostly "pretty" paintings at an oblique angle, sometimes 2-page spreads. I'd actually get more out of more basic, top-down traditional military atlas style maps....more
Another I read to learn more about the place I was visiting on vacation. I normally think of these Osprey book as a lot of good illustrations, more thAnother I read to learn more about the place I was visiting on vacation. I normally think of these Osprey book as a lot of good illustrations, more than the text, but this one was really great. Excellent text, data, and illustrations....more
I was visiting Pearl Harbor on vacation while listening to this audiobook. It's not really about Pearl Harbor, but rather all the days in December 194I was visiting Pearl Harbor on vacation while listening to this audiobook. It's not really about Pearl Harbor, but rather all the days in December 1941 from the point of view of the FDR White House. So there is quite about about the famous speech (about Infamy) to Congress, as well as Churchill's immediate diplomatic visit to the US, along with meetings of the military leaders of the US & UK....more