This is the stunning story of a Japanese woman, wife of an American college professor, whose world is turned inside out by the bombing of Pearl Harbor...moreThis is the stunning story of a Japanese woman, wife of an American college professor, whose world is turned inside out by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of War with Japan in December 1941. A professional artist, Masako Fumi has at last secured a showing at a prestigious Manhattan gallery. But the timing is terrible. The opening party is disrupted by picketers and some of the guests make their disapproval known with obvious slights. Her husband, a great supporter, is unable to attend as he is home bound with pneumonia and attended by round the clock nurses.
Almost immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor Japanese residents of New York City are rounded up and detained irrespective of their personal circumstances. Masako's situation is worsened when the owner of the gallery housing her work is found murdered. As New York City police and federal agents swirl around her with accusations and conspiracy theories, Masako finds herself nearly friendless with an American husband too sick to help maneuver her out of harm's way. The ensuing investigations and investigators see only her ethnicity. Needless to say, they view her artwork with suspicion and contempt. Her hopes lie with a police detective interested more in the crime than politics and one of the nurses who is outraged by the way the authorities have handled the situation and its detrimental effect on her patient. Coincidentally, the nurse's roommate is a reporter trying to break out of women's assignments and into real news despite great opposition from her editor.
The author uses the intersection of the lives of these three very different women to explore the assumptions, morays, prejudices,racism and sexism of 1941 urban America. It is through this threesome and one honest cop that the truth of the murder is revealed and the lives of Masako and her husband Robert Oakley are redeemed. It is left to the reader to decide whose is "The Face of the Enemy" in this enlightening tale. (less)
This memoir is the story of a Dutch religious family whose faith compelled them to help hide Jews during the Nazi occupation. Betrayed by one of their...moreThis memoir is the story of a Dutch religious family whose faith compelled them to help hide Jews during the Nazi occupation. Betrayed by one of their neighbors, the family and all those they are hiding are arrested. Corrie ten Blooms family winds up in prison at first. When released they were sent to a concentration camp.
The story of their incarceration and the inhumanity of their jailers is evident in every action taken to punish the family. The story of their survival is one of hope and faith and the certainty of their beliefs. This is one side of the holocaust story not heralded enough.(less)
I picked this book up after listening to a glowing review, I think on NPR. Part of the review spoke to the process of writing the book; how Laura Hill...moreI picked this book up after listening to a glowing review, I think on NPR. Part of the review spoke to the process of writing the book; how Laura Hillenbrand's physical limitations so moved Louie Zamperini, the subject of the story, that he sent her one of his purple hearts. An incredible gesture from a remarkable man with a remarkable life.
Louie Zamperini was a man famous in his time but I dare say relatively unknown today until the publication of this book. His life touched on many of the major events leading up to and following WW11. A wild youth, Louie learned to focus his energy by running track in school. His gift took him to Hitler's Olympics in Germany, a medal and a brush with the brown shirts. His running led him to college and then the military where he became a gunner in the war in the Pacific.
Always high spirited his resolve helped keep him alive when shot down and set adrift in a raft in the middle of the Pacific. Along with the surviving members of the crew he drifted several thousand miles with only his wits and few resources. Captured by the Japanese and subjected to torture and starvation, he persevered and lived to tell the story. Refusing to be used as propaganda for the Japanese he was subjected to additional abuse. After the war, suffering from post traumatic stress in a time when it was neither understood or acknowledged,he became an alcoholic but through AA overcame this becoming a functioning productive member of society.
But you have to read the book to really get an emotional perspective on the life Louie Zamperini lived. Almost always the underdog, it was through sheer force of will that he accomplished anything. Despite his athletic ability, others deliberately injured him (think Tanya Harding but with no publicity or recourse). His Olympic prowess angered Hitler, made his army superiors jealous and infuriated a psychotic Japanese guard who made it his mission to destroy Louis. Time and again Zamperini found the will to survive hanging on by the most ephemeral of threads.
Louie Zamperini was a hero's hero in a time when heroism was expected as part of daily existence. He is certainly someone to think about in a world where the least difficulty often turns into rant on the unfairness of life or the "system". The passages of the story that describe his harrowing journey aboard the raft with his mates are among the most vivid I have ever read.(less)