Somehow I was blessed not to have known the conclusion of this story before I set out reading it with my sister, completely innocent of its meanings aSomehow I was blessed not to have known the conclusion of this story before I set out reading it with my sister, completely innocent of its meanings and greatness. Now, of course, I know how transcending it is in skill and theme.
It is a social commentary on the French Revolution. We see the slow and roiling growth of a oppressed people, bursting into a wave of Terror, where our heroes and heroines find themselves hopelessly captured. The analysis of the complexity of the morality of the French Revolution is fair and enlightening: Dickens sees the inevitability of the uprising, knows it is a judgement on the wicked crimes of the aristocracy, yet he will also denounce the base, unjust and animal result of that same Revolution. He warns against a repeat of this performance – a heartless upper class that sees no humanity in the peasants; and the harvested violence of the Revolution that was sown by those gold-plated hands. It is historical analysis and social commentary at its best.
Dickens has a way with words, a delicious skill in humor and dialogue, and a stunning store of unique and engaging characters: the complex, melancholy Sydney Carton; the cold, calculating wickedness of Madame Defarge; the quiet, sympathetic Doctor Manette; the beautiful, pure Miss Manette; the sharp, spunky Miss Pross; the “flopping” wife of crude Jerry Cruncher. And how Dickens weaves these people into each other – masterwork itself!
But what endures is the humanity, humility, and incredible selflessness of many of these people. And how can I miss the wonderful message of resurrection and hope? “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
The powerful redemption at the end is worth the slow buildup of tension in the early pages of the story. It will shock you with the cold-blooded thirst of fallen humanity, open your eyes to love and true self-sacrifice, and move you to the highest ideals of the soul. It’s a story that escapes its historical setting and offers a pertinent depth for all of us....more
What an inspiring book! So many little personal stories sprinkled among the general flow of a historical overview. I loved the balance they struck witWhat an inspiring book! So many little personal stories sprinkled among the general flow of a historical overview. I loved the balance they struck with it. The scenery of the book itself is beautiful: Large photographs and spacious text are paced with colored blocks of personal stories. The organization was good; I like how they had a writeup on the production aspect of the home front. It was also nice to read of the Pacific theater from the Japanese viewpoint as well. I appreciate the fairness and honesty they had in explaining all aspects of the war: how they honestly realized the mixed morality of war and the horrible brutality it inflicts upon humankind, yet also the rightness of fighting for what is right. And even in the section on women in war, they showed women’s growth from and gratitude to the men alongside them. Different things inspired me from this book, though I suppose it is not the book specifically, as the stories it chose to include, the quotes it shared, and the highlight of life it revealed. To me, it was a subtle splash of many of the lessons I could and have learned from World War II – the pain of separation, the beauty of sacrifice, and the incredible simplicity of the goal of victory for a whole nation....more
A very interesting, revelatory book! The mingling of the three biographies was a nice mix, and I felt good about myself for having learned about threeA very interesting, revelatory book! The mingling of the three biographies was a nice mix, and I felt good about myself for having learned about three important figures in WWII in one book. It taught me more about the general timeline of the European theater than any history textbook or article I'd read. A personal perspective, such as those found in biographies like these, always aids in the learning of the big picture....more
This book was a real eye-opener to me. It changed my perspective on war and sacrifice and on what soldiers die for, namely, their families and their nThis book was a real eye-opener to me. It changed my perspective on war and sacrifice and on what soldiers die for, namely, their families and their nation, not necessarily their leader at that time. The numerous examples of nobility was so beautiful to see. Imagine a German submariner saving a British pilot that his own sub had downed? Or victorious Allies giving U-Boat prisoners their (loaded) weapons so that the latter could show them German parade formations? Or the people of the German countryside tuning in to BBC when such an act was penalized by death? Not everyone of a regime is represented by the leader of that organization. Many may be fooled, but there are still some good people who have a heart and can be trusted. This book showed me that I cannot generalize the other side as one-dimensional enemies; they are people, like you and me; have a heart, like you and me; and sometimes didn't like the people on top, yet still loved the land which was inherently theirs - much like you and me....more
A very clear and entertaining look at the significance of the feasts of Israel for the future. It's very enlightening to see that God's purpose for thA very clear and entertaining look at the significance of the feasts of Israel for the future. It's very enlightening to see that God's purpose for the feasts was to illustrate and anticipate the coming events of the first and second comings of Christ. Definitely a must-read if you want to know more about the symbolism and significance of the feasts of Israel for history, the church, Israel's future, and the end of the age. The colorful and richly illustrated interior makes this doctrinal book very entertaining and readable for even the casual reader....more
A great, great, great book on the questions raised by the Jesus Seminar and others on whether the traditional view of Jesus coincides with the historiA great, great, great book on the questions raised by the Jesus Seminar and others on whether the traditional view of Jesus coincides with the historical evidence. The chapters cover the common questions and are answered by known scholars in the field. The style is easy to read for the layman, yet comprehensive enough (by its pages of footnotes) for someone who wishes to search further....more
Another personally life-changing book. This was the first book I read on World War II history, and its combination of large-scope summary and interspeAnother personally life-changing book. This was the first book I read on World War II history, and its combination of large-scope summary and interspersed personal narration made for a perfect insight into the solemnity, terror, and inspiration of that time. The best history is told by those who lived in it, and this book further proves that point. It loosely follows the lives of a score of men, from their shipping out to the end of the war. It is a great book, and I highly recommend it....more
There were several great gems in this latest "Case" by Lee Strobel - the refutation of the gospel of Thomas at the beginning, the snappy outline of hoThere were several great gems in this latest "Case" by Lee Strobel - the refutation of the gospel of Thomas at the beginning, the snappy outline of how Christianity didn't copy from other ancient religions. Both keeper pieces.
There were some eye-opening moments, like the Jesus tradition being a "community effort, not an isolated account running private from one person to the next. Or how James was Jesus' brother: "If I had a brother who was perfect... I'd hate him!" The Arabic method of determining inspiration via the beauty of the piece was shockingly subjective, though more ridiculous was the one relativist who actually believed the world was flat when people believed that way.
Unfortunately, some of the interviewed scholars resorted to some level of emotionalism and a sense of my-word-versus-the-skeptic's sort of debate. That should have been amended, even if the chapters must go longer to hold solid evidence. Strobel should have dug deeper.
Overall, though, this was a nice inclusion by Strobel to his popular apologetic series, and I don't regret buying it. There are great points and good arguments - tainted sometimes with a few hasty judgements....more
Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels is a remarkable book indeed: It has been required reading for military schools from the US Army Officer Candidate SMichael Shaara's The Killer Angels is a remarkable book indeed: It has been required reading for military schools from the US Army Officer Candidate School to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and is only one of two novels recommended for Officer Professional Development. Why? For one thing -- detail, detail, detail. Battle maneuvers, decision-making, the pressures and fears involved. Tactics are discussed and charted, emotions carefully developed and expressed, and conflicts delicately and meaningfully explored. It is a historical exposition on how the epic battle at Gettysburg was fought, yet it is also a tender look at the affection, the conflict, the friendship and duty between people such as Lee, Longstreet, Armistead, Garnett, Tom and Joshua Chamberlain. It is rich with character and alive with history. Detailed description of maneuvers are not sacrificed for moving exploration of character.
The writing style is pure and beautiful genius -- so rambling and realistic. The reader is truly in there in the moment of history, which, ironically, doesn't feel like grand history when one is experiencing it (like what would happen in reality). We see Chamberlain learn of the name of the hill on which he fought only after the battle, afterwards when he realizes it is so significant. The battle scenes are true and utter perfection. Realism, deftness, the wash of scene and emotion coupled with individual images that strike in one's mind.
Thematically, Shaara does not easily conclude. There is something hopeful in the end, a beautiful picture indeed, but too many foundations of hope have been broken down in the story itself. The title embodies the conflict of humanity in Shaara's mind: Are we angels, with the "divine spark," or are we killers, animal and insignificant? Setting this philosophical dilemma in the Civil War is apt: a nation divided in identity, a humanity divided in what it identifies itself. Does Shaara support the war, or war in general? He merely shows the characters, what they thought and believed, and offers no at least easy conclusion. War is indeed pointless in many ways, but there are indeed things worth fighting for. But one doesn't picture "the Cause" after a massive bloodshed. It's only after reflection, as Chamberlain embodies in the end.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I was irked by the unresolved disillusionment displayed by Chamberlain and especially Longstreet. But this only spurs me to find the original documents of these men and discover what they really believed, if I can ever tell. After reading this, I feel that I would love to write something similar, a moving treatise on a great battle, a human picture of a textbook fact.
I am grateful I read this book, that I experienced this monumental story in its flowing motion, put another war classic under my belt, and got humanly involved once more in the Civil War. The inspiration of life illustrated in this book is something I will always love fiction for, historical fiction most of all....more
I love Biblical archaeology and I love seeing how the events in the Bible actually took place in real time and space. The little historical previews hI love Biblical archaeology and I love seeing how the events in the Bible actually took place in real time and space. The little historical previews here in this study Bible are a great introduction to the world of historical Biblical reality. I've read through the Bible multiple times now, but the new information in this edition makes me excited to read it once more....more
What a wonderful little book! Although the writing could use some polishing, the sheer adventure, humor, and true-to-life-ness of the tales themselvesWhat a wonderful little book! Although the writing could use some polishing, the sheer adventure, humor, and true-to-life-ness of the tales themselves offset any stylistic lacking. The stories are heart-warming, bittersweet, comforting, saddening, frightening, enlightening, and always struck with the down-to-earth declaration that these things did take place - once upon a time. Personal accounts are always the closest way to history's heart, and this book is no exception. For a real experience of life on the home front, at the USO dances, amid longing and love, letters and leaves, this book is great. Through it, I learned little pieces of history that otherwise would drift past my notice - the doubt that women faced when dating soldiers, the fact that their letters go often to more than one man overseas, the fate of Germans and Italians in America during WWII, the danger experienced by those non-military sailors who faced U-Boats in their transport of supplies to the Allies, the horrors of the Germans against Italian townspeople in the waning days of the war. And of course, the sudden love and lasting commitment of many of the romances peppered out of the field of battle. Yes, some stories were not fantastic, may not have been so surprising or inspiring, but they were real, and they happened to real people who each had something heart-felt and honest to say. I learned many things from this book - little things like how people felt, how they lived, and how individual lives were subtly or abruptly affected by so far-reaching an event as the Second World War. The war may have broken the hearts of mothers who saw the last of their sons, it may have shocked its young soldiers, but it also brought together at least two people who owe to it the chance of their meeting and the far-reaching joy of togetherness that they often afterward enjoyed. This book shows that side of the war. Not the bloodshed and the battle, but the love and the longing, which was just as real and deep....more
Read this book when you’re alone, the wind around you drowning out the world, the sunlight and air isolating your mind so that it will only be you andRead this book when you’re alone, the wind around you drowning out the world, the sunlight and air isolating your mind so that it will only be you and Edith, you and her story. So you can feel who she is and where she went with all the realness of being there.
It will be well worth it. It certainly was for me.
Firstly, I must mention that I love personal stories, that I love experiencing other people’s lives, and that I forgive most failures in storytelling because I know a real person had made it, not necessarily a professional writer, and most certainly not a professional writer creating a fictional tale that can be so easily modified for irony and suspense. That being said, I love Edith’s story. I find her experiences moving, sad, hopeful, and deep. I seem to forever be searching for a word that conveys the depth and danger, interest and didacticism, sadness and optimism that I find in the best stories. I would describe Edith’s memoirs with that word.
Similarly, I cannot say I enjoyed the story, for in it there was much sadness and fear. I cannot say I was fascinated and interested, for there was much more than those shallow, impersonal pleasures. I can say I was moved, but there was also so much more. There was learning, feeling, hoping, and crying.
Edith explains her life from her childhood to her trials during World War II. She lays down the most intimate details of her life, unedited, to give us a whole and perfect image of her personality, her dreams, and her life longings. Through her details, we come to know her as a real person and we come to understand everything she does and to feel those same emotions that she did throughout her ordeal. We can feel both her torture sand her triumphs intimately.
About the writing style: At first, it made me pause. Edith occasionally addresses the reader in the second person. But I think in the end, this is not a factor in the quality of the storytelling. In fact, it can be a great aid in bringing her closer to you, in making her story that much more personal.
Besides this, the narrative style is perfect. The emotions of real life are recreated with as much storytelling devices as real life can maintain. Scenes and dialogue are recreated with a perfect balance of immediacy and summary.
//Potential spoiler// And on its title: Some may wonder why her book is titled the way it is, without her being the wife of a Nazi officer except for a short time in the story. But I think no word could describe a person wholly through life and that something must be used to symbolize the story presented. “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” fulfills this latter reason. In her incredible experience, Edith had to live a life like the rest of the Nazis. She had to pretend to be someone she was not, pretend to be a Nazi. In many ways, she was wedded to this lie, this incredible lie of agreement with monsters. This is how the title symbolizes her struggle. //Potential spoiler//
What an incredible book, an incredible story, an incredible woman....more