I have been listening to The Teaching Company lectures by Vejas G. Liulevicius on WWI and Diplomatic history from 1500 to 2000. Fascinating listening,I have been listening to The Teaching Company lectures by Vejas G. Liulevicius on WWI and Diplomatic history from 1500 to 2000. Fascinating listening, and he recommends Kissinger's "Diplomacy" for additional reading. The book overlaps most significantly with Liulevicius' course on diplomatic history.
Recommended. Interesting to see how the world has developed diplomatically based on countries and their geographies, their alliances for protection, their alliances against the strength of others, and their philosophies of what is deemed acceptable (but not right), or inconvenient (but not wrong)....more
This was a very hard book for me to read, as I have family who served in WWII in the Pacific, some of whom were POW's, starved and tortured by the JapThis was a very hard book for me to read, as I have family who served in WWII in the Pacific, some of whom were POW's, starved and tortured by the Japanese. Regardless of the difficulty of reading the book, I recommend it highly. We should not forget.
The dedication explains the entire book:
"The following is dedicated to Dr. Henri Hekking, Den Hague, Netherlands, who loved and respected his Texan friends, risking his life repeatedly to save them, although he had never seen the United States of America.
It is dedicated to those whom the Japanese held captive in Burma during World War II, forcing thousands to face acts of ultimate human indignity -- death by starvation, sicknesses, firing squads, beheadings, bayonetting, beatings, and torture. It is unconscionable to allow future generations to forget what happened on the Burma railroad, just as it is to turn our backs on the holocaust in Europe.
If there is any reason to recall what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki each August 6 and 9, then at the same time let us remember Burma and the Death Railroad, where an estimated 100,000 prisoners died in fourteen months at the hands of the Japanese."...more
This was a very sweet book, and worthwhile reading. It chronicles the life of Mary Churchill Soames, the youngest of Winston and Clementine Churchill'This was a very sweet book, and worthwhile reading. It chronicles the life of Mary Churchill Soames, the youngest of Winston and Clementine Churchill's 5 children. Mary Soames died in 2014 at the age of 91. She was 17 years old when WWII broke out in 1939 and an eyewitness to many of the epic events of WWII.
Her interview made me more interested in her as a person and also her relationship with her very famous father.
The death of the Churchill's 4th child, Marigold, in 1921 at the age of only 2 1/2 years old changed many things about how Clementine ran their home. Before Marigold's death, the children had been largely taken care of by hired French governesses and nurses. Marigold's death was never blamed on the French governess who took care of her, but the fact that Clementine and Winston were not called for sooner when the child developed a very sore throat made medical help harder to make use of.
As a result, Clementine hired her first cousin, Madeline Whyte "Nana" to take charge when Mary was born in 1922. Madeline had trained as a Norland nurse, so was perfectly suited to the job. Plus she was related to the family, and as a result loved and cared for the children and especially Mary as though they were her own. Mary was never sent away to boarding school, and was raised largely at Chartwell, the Churchill estate. Living at home instead of away, she also enjoyed an unusually regular time with her parents. Mary credits Nana's presence in providing the stability and Christian faith that helped her become the faithful and joyful Christian she is today. Mary is the only one of the Churchill children whose life has not come to an end after a major tragedy or great sadness.
Mary served in the women's branch of the British army, the Auxillary Territorial Service (ATS) responsible for the home front defense of Britain. She rose to the role of Junior Commander (Captain). At one point she had over 300 young women working under her in an anti-aircraft batteries. In 1945 Mary served as an aide-de-camp to her father at the Postdam Conference.
All through her writing, Mary is even and cheerful while never glossing over the difficulties of growing up a Churchill.
I have been learning more about Winston Churchill and his family, especially his youngest daughter Mary Soames. This book is delightful, showing pictuI have been learning more about Winston Churchill and his family, especially his youngest daughter Mary Soames. This book is delightful, showing pictures of the family back to Winston's parents and Clementine's parents all the way to the death of Winston. Each picture is accompanied by explanations from Mary Soames.
A most excellent and very lengthy overview of the many different fronts of WWII. Areas that I found I was not as aware of included the Russian front (A most excellent and very lengthy overview of the many different fronts of WWII. Areas that I found I was not as aware of included the Russian front (battles against Moscow and Stalingrad) as well as the battles in Burma. For 6 German soldiers killed in actual battle, 4 of them died fighting the Russians.
I was amazed yet again at the sheer scope of WWII. I did not realize the lack of coordination between the Axis powers. If they had indeed worked together, the outcome might have been very very different.
The author also dispels the myth that the Germans just "didn't know about all the atrocities committed" and were "just following orders". The huge number of soldiers required to shoot all the Polish and Slav people one at a time by a bullet in the head, the sheer number of camp guards and soldiers required to coordinate capture and transport of Jews, the extensive number of nurses and doctors who participated in the starvation or medical death of the mentally ill or physically frail, belies the excuse that "we just didn't know". While the German press was certainly controlled by Hitler, there were enough people who participated in these events to make it impossible not to know.
Captured German generals and high ranking German soldiers were taken to Trent House in England. There they were treated respectfully, provided with perks like cigars and alcohol, and allowed to mingle and speak freely. What they did not realize is that all of their conversations were recorded, transcribed, translated, and read and used by the British government. In these conversations, made freely with their fellow officers, they fully admitted their knowledge of what was really happening and even discussed how and why the war came to happen. The book "Tapping Hitler's Generals: Transcripts of Secret Conversations 1942-45" on this very topic, is one I plan to look up soon.
[Quote from the "Tapping Hitler's Generals" from the WWII documentary "The Wehrmacht"..... In the episode The Crimes, General Dietrich von Choltitz is quoted as saying in October 1944: "We all share the guilt. We went along with everything, and we half-took the Nazis seriously, instead of saying "to hell with you and your stupid nonsense". I misled my soldiers into believing this rubbish. I feel utterly ashamed of myself. Perhaps we bear even more guilt than these uneducated animals." (This in apparent reference to Hitler and his supporting Nazi Party members.) ]
The two most staggeringly amazing things that stood out for me were the Enigma machines, and the development of the atomic bomb.
Churchill stated flatly that "It was thanks to Ultra (the codename of the intelligence gleaned from the Enigma deciphering) that we won the war."
When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese resolved to continue fighting. What a blessing it was to have the 2nd bomb, because it was only after the second bomb was dropped that the Japanese government and military acknowledged that they should cease fighting and surrender.
The author makes several interesting statements too about the need for both Germany and Japan to be utterly crushingly defeated. If those countries had not been defeated as they had, it is unlikely we would have the current very pacific Germany we have of today that participates in and is trusted in world affairs. Likewise the defeat of the Japanese empire was necessary to be as complete and harsh as it was, if for no other reason to allow the current world to have an ally in the Japanese instead of a festering nationalistic wound ready to erupt again.
Very well written and fascinating biography. Many things I had never known about John Ford:
He was actually on Midway and filming the attack himself. WVery well written and fascinating biography. Many things I had never known about John Ford:
He was actually on Midway and filming the attack himself. When John Wayne was directing and acting in "The Alamo", John Ford was bored and decided to visit the set. Ford began directing various scenes and inviting himself to do things that no one wanted. Wayne, anxious to not anger Ford, gave Ford a 2nd unit to film with to keep him out of the way while Wayne himself directed the rest of the movie. Ford and Henry Fonda got into a fistfight over how Ford was directing "Mr. Roberts". Fonda had played Mr. Roberts in the Broadway play to great success. Ford was becoming more interested in what Jack Lemmon was doing (who plays Ensign Pulver) and was making many slap-stick scenes to accommodate Lemmon's comic timing. Ford and Fonda finished the movie, but were estranged afterwards. Because Ford could no longer call Fonda to act in his movies, Ford relied more and more on John Wayne as his actor of choice. Because of that, the direction his later films went was in the type of movies Wayne was successful in making, i.e. Westerns. It is interesting to think what different trajectory Ford's latter movies would have made if he had not estranged Fonda. Ford's son, Pat, is quoted as saying that his father was a genius in the film industry but a lousy father. Ford created a small economy for decades for the Navajos living in Monument Valley. Ford probably had an affair with Kathryn Hepburn. He and Spencer Tracey whom she later lived with, were very similar men -- both Irish, both alcoholics, and both in the film industry.
This biography carefully places the genius that Ford had in "seeing" what he wanted to film beforehand with the darker side of Ford's personality. All men are complex, and Ford was no exception. What is interesting to me is the juxtaposition of Ford's cruel side with the fact that he was a father-figure to so many Hollywood actors. Ford was never above pushing an actor or actress into an emotional state against him to get a better scene. For instance, Victor McLagen was a long time friend of Ford's and had appeared in most of Ford's early films. When filming "The Quiet Man", Ford gave McLagen very specific acting directions in the scene when McLagen's character refuses to give his sister her dowry. McLagen did exactly what Ford asked five times. Each time he would do it, Ford would tell him to do exactly the same thing, and they would take the scene again. Ford stopped filming for the day, leaving McLagen seething in anger. The next morning, they filmed the scene again and McLagen was so angry that he sweeps the money off the table so hard it almost hits the opposite wall. Ford smiled, and then told McLagen that was exactly what he was looking for.
This cruel streak is balanced by the thoughtful care he took of those friends who had worked with him for decades. Many of the actors in his silent films were always cast in his newer films, giving them an opportunity to make a living when otherwise many of them would have not had jobs. ...more
This is a very lengthy tome, and I had to return it to the library before I was totally finished with it. Depressing, discouraging, and dark. But withThis is a very lengthy tome, and I had to return it to the library before I was totally finished with it. Depressing, discouraging, and dark. But with moments of light and redemption among certain individuals. How people could survive and continue to deal with others of the human race by whom they have been betrayed and sacrificed is totally amazing....more
I got interested in this book because the author, S. Payne Best, was the person that Dietrich Bonhoeffer relayed his last message to. Best, when he waI got interested in this book because the author, S. Payne Best, was the person that Dietrich Bonhoeffer relayed his last message to. Best, when he was released after the war, delivered that message to Bishop George Bell, Bonhoeffer's friend.
This book also got my interest because of the reluctance of Churchill to support Germans who were trying to overthrow Hitler (like Bonhoeffer). The reason for Churchill's reluctance to do that is described in detail in "The Venlo Incident".
This book documents the most famous and humiliating of the British intelligence failures during the 2nd World War. Two of the British intelligence officers, Captain Sigismund Payne Best and Richard Stevens thought they were meeting with some Germans who opposed Hitler. But instead they were kidnapped from a cafe in Venlo, Holland and then taken to Germany where they remained throughout WWII, kept as VIP prisoners and tortured for information that damaged the war efforts of England. Stevens at his time of capture, even had a plain list of agents on him. Churchill, not wanting to step into another trap, never believed any of the attempts by Germans to solicit help in overthrowing Hitler.
The most interesting parts of the book have to do with the chaos at the end of the war, when the Germans moved around prisoners to keep them out of the hands of the Soviets, and then later to keep them away from the Allies. ...more
Sept 2014 As excellent on the 3rd reading as it was on the first 2. Highly highly recommended.
What struck me at this reading was how Bonhoeffer's familSept 2014 As excellent on the 3rd reading as it was on the first 2. Highly highly recommended.
What struck me at this reading was how Bonhoeffer's family was privy to so much that was happening in the German government so far ahead of when the average German seemed to find out. I am reading "The Storm of War" now, and it is fascinating to see the military issues set in contrast to this much more personal view of history in Germany at the time.
******************************************************* Feb 2011 Review -- I am reading the library copy of this book, and it is due tomorrow. I have not finished it, but am about 1/2 of the way through. I have read many books on Bonhoeffer in the past, and have read a substantial number of books written by Bonhoeffer himself. He has always fascinated me. A Christian, a pastor, a German, living in the time when Hitler came to power. What did those Christians in Germany see, or not see, about what was coming? If they saw, what did they do? Or not do?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as the author has aptly written in the title of his book, was indeed a "prophet". Only two days after Hitler was democratically elected chancellor of Germany (Jan. 30, 1933), Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave a radio address on February 1, 1933 called "The Younger Generation's Altered Concept of Leadership" where he examined and dissected the fundamental problems with leadership by a Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer saw, and he acted to inform Christians as he preached and taught. He also was led to act to remove Hitler from power. His courage in speaking as a prophet and in acting led to his arrest and eventual execution in the waning days of WWII. Hitler himself ordered Bonhoeffer's execution, a mere three weeks before Hitler himself committed suicide.
While not finished with the book, I have already ordered it from amazon. This is one book that will be worthwhile to have and read and study. A fascinating book to read in conjunction with Viktor Frankl's books.
I recommend this book with 10 stars.... or more! I wonder how many more stars I'll add when I get to finish it?! I'll update the review when I do.
Some fascinating things about the Bonhoeffer family: Christel Bonhoeffer, Dietrich's older sister, married Hans von Dohnanyi. Their son Christoph von Dohnanyi was born in 1929 and is a well known German conductor. He was for over 20 years the music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Hans von Dohnanyi was a schoolmate and friend of Klaus Bonhoeffer, Dietrich's older brother.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging using piano wire on April 9, 1945. Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi (husband of Christel) was executed by gunshot on April 8th (or 9th), 1945. Klaus Bonhoeffer was executed by gunshot on April 25, 1945. Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law Rudiger Schleicheter (husband of Ursula Bonhoeffer) was executed by gunshot April 25, 1945.
Of the 8 children that Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer had, three of their 4 sons died in war. Walter, the 2nd oldest, was killed in WWI. Karl and Dietrich were executed by the Nazis in WWII. Only their oldest son, Karl Friedrich, outlived them. Of their 4 sons-in-laws, two were executed by the Nazis in WWII. Only the daughters Sabine and Susanne had husbands who died natural deaths. ...more