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5.14.2010

Crazy about books

Have I mentioned that I love to read? And love history? Hmmm. Maybe not the history part, but I'm sure I've mentioned my love for a good read :) Anyway...In social studies we have been learning about World War II and in language arts we are also doing WWII/Holocaust stuff. And you know what? It's really cool. I mean, obviously Auschwitz (the largest concentration camp) and Hitler are like the epitome of un-cool horrors, but the records that people have left and written afterward are just fascinating! These books are really able to show what was happening during that time period and I (being the geek that I am) have taken this opportunity to read as many good WWII/Holocaust books as possible, because the truth is that I'm learning so much, and we have to be aware of what happened back then so that we can prevent it in the future. I wish I could get cover pictures but I can't upload any pics for some reason :'(

(reviews are from amazon.com)

The first book I read was:

Jackdaws by Ken Follett

I picked up this book in my math teachers little library when I had nothing to read for SSR. It was a nice thick book and looked pretty interesting, so i sat down to read and was hooked. I finished it last Tuesday. Here are the reviews:

"Each book by Ken Follett, one of the most successful suspense writers of our time, is a welcome event. With Jackdaws, he returns to his most successful era, the darkest days of World War II.
It is 1944 and the Allies are preparing for the invasion of Europe. In the occupied town of Sainte-Cecile, the French Resistance is preparing to blow up the chateau that now houses the crucial telephone exchange connecting the French telephone system to that of Germany. Bombers have been unable to inflict enough damage on the chateau to disrupt communications for more than a few hours at a time, but the Allies need to make sure that communications is down for longer so that there will be as little warning of the invasion as possible.
Felicity Clariet, known as Flick, is a British secret agent patrolling the streets around the chateau waiting for the first explosions that will give the signal for the attack to begin. She is married to Michel, a Resistance fighter. When the operation goes horribly wrong, they barely escape with their lives and Flick returns to her home in London--but not for long. When Flick returns to France it will be as part of an audacious, quickly assembled plan to put female spies in the chateau as telephone operators and cleaners, enabling the Allies to destroy the ability of the Exchange to warn Germany in advance of the landing on the beaches of Normandy. The twists and turns of the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Follett tells us that Jackdaws is based on a true story. The Special Operations Executive sent 50 women into France as secret agents. Thirty-six survived."
"Time is running out. With D-Day rapidly approaching, the Nazis are actively trying to quash the French resistance. Meanwhile, Britain's Special Operations branch is working hard to supply the resistance with intelligence, supplies and agents. Felicity "Flick" Clairet is one of England's most effective operatives in northern France. Having failed in an assault on the Nazis' main European telephone exchange, she regroups in England for another attempt, this time with an all-female team that will infiltrate the exchange under the guise of a French cleaning staff. Unfortunately, finding female agents fluent in French proves impossible and Flick resorts to crash-training nonprofessionals for the task. Imagine Charlie's Angels (minus the campiness) in The Guns of Navarone. Written in Follett's (Pillars of the Earth, etc.) riveting style and with his penchant for historical detail, the Jackdaws (the codename of the all-girl team) are given a heightened air of authenticity with Kate Reading's performance. She flavors her confident delivery with a wry cynicism that is inherent to Flick's character, and her use of international as well as regional accents keeps the rapid narrative flowing flawlessly."
10 out of 10 stars is my rating!!!
The second book I read (and finished yesterday) was:

Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer with Helen Waterford and Alfrons Heck

This was the book I read for my language arts class.
"Grade 7 and up? This is a book to make your blood run cold. Through Ayer's narrative and excerpts from Heck's memoirs, A Child of Hitler and The Burden of Hitler's Legacy, readers learn how Alfons changed from a loving, wholesome boy to a "Nazi devil" (even the Germans called the elite Hitler Youth by that name). It is frightening to see how easily young people can be swayed, and readers learn just how it happened. Alternating chapters reveal Helen Waterford's story through excerpts from her book, Commitment to the Dead, and Ayer's background material. Fleeing with her fiancee to Amsterdam after Kristallnacht, Helen was again caught in the Nazi noose and struggled to survive. As her plight grew more desperate, Alfons rose higher and higher in the Hitler Youth. Eventually, when he and his ragged corps faced annihilation by the Russians, he realized how Hitler had sacrificed his "children." When Alfons and Helen met in the U.S. 40 years after the war, they found that they shared a common purpose: to help young people understand that peace and compassion are possible between individuals, and on a larger scale as well. Their first-person accounts are interwoven with Ayer's words so seamlessly that readers are unaware of the intrusion of a third person. She is an excellent biographer, capturing nuances of her subjects' characters and personality traits. A fascinating work."
My rating? 9.5 out of 10

The third book I began this morning is:

Night by Elie Wiesel

After reading Parallel Journeys my language arts teacher suggested that I read this too.
"The quote from the New York Times on the cover of this book has it exactly right: "a slim volume of terrifying power." Wiesel's retelling of his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp is concise and seemingly artless. But the absence of sentimental pathos only makes the story so much more moving, so much more powerful. I first listened to this novel as an audio book some five or six years ago, and the experience was overwhelming. Since then, I've listened to it again perhaps five times, I've read it in the French original twice, and I've read the English translation by Stella Rodway once. I now know it almost by heart. Certain passages from the book would haunt my imagination for weeks, leaving an indelible imprint on my soul. For instance, I feel I know with certainty that I will remember the fate of Moshe the Beadle -- a human being of flesh and blood who once lived and breathed, and whose story is told here in but a few pages -- until my dying day. 'Never shall I forget that night' -- this is a very, *very* powerful book."
"Elie Wiesel is a survivor of Auschwitz and details his experience in this book. Elie was not only a young man when he was taken to Auschwitz but a young man who lost his innocence and childhood. Elie and his family was Jewish and that was the reason for their imprisonment. True story and the book goes into great detail about his experience, feelings and horror that occurred."
I have not finished it yet, but so far, it's very good!
I'd like to read some others such as The Diary of Anne Frank and others which I will try to get a hold of after I finish this next book:

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Adolf Hitler

This is going to be an interesting one. He wrote it in jail before he came to power but it details all of what he wants the Nazi party to become. I believe that it will be enlightening to see it from his point of view, not that it would make me change my mind on what he did being wrong/right, but I think it will be very interesting.
*please note* This review has spelling errors and such, but it was the best one I could find.

"It's not fashionable to admit that one has read something written by Adolf Hitler. But, I did, in order to obtain balance from the other literature I've read and to better understand the psychological conflicts within the man. First, Hitler was no intellectual lightweight. I found that his analyses of military, political, historical, and economic affairs was quite insightful! Not bad for an artist from Linz (beautiful town by the way). Hitler seems to lose rationality and experiences emotional flooding when he discusses the aristocracy, the marxists, and the jews. odd, in that it was the marxists who were supposed to rise up against the aristocracy. karl marx was jewish i believe, so the source of his hatred against the marxists might have been from that angle. it's amazing how all throughout the book, when it asserts a claim, he backs it up with brilliant logic and cites examples to support it. always, that is, except where the jewish people are concerned. there, the flood gates are opened and the ravages of hatred are unleashed. given the level of hatred for marxists expressed in this book, i'm stunned that a brilliant tyrant like stalin would ever have trusted hitler's promise not to invade russia. i had hoped to find more information on the financial sources that supported hitler's rise but it certainly wasn't to be found here. this is heavy reading and, frankly, i don't know if it is because the man was evil or because i approached the book believing that the author might be evil, but, it wasn't easy to read. Nevertheless, for anyone who wishes to study history, WW1 or WW2, Jewish studies, or political science (and, maybe even psychopathy), this ought to be required reading."
Anyway, I hope some of you may take the time to read some of these books!
(Readers Please Note: Jackdaws and Mein Kampf have extremely high lexiles (especially Mein Kampf) and Jackdaws in particular was violent. (Hey. It IS war) The other two go into detail of the horrors of concentration camps and the Hitler youth. So please make a good choice. I would not recommend the first two books (Jackdaws/Mein Kampf) to anyone who is not in high school (or an accomplished 8th grader like myself) AND has really good reading skills. The other two I would say to wait until 8th grade. Just because of the graphic horrors.)

5 comments:

Eskän Landliff said...

Yeah we did that in december. XD

Bella said...

nerd. :)

•The Cornet Crazie• said...

Eskän- you did a WWII unit? or read those books?

Bella- Yes. I know. Did you catch the 'being the geek that i am...' line? lolz

Izori said...

Wow. World War II is incredibly interesting, though extremely sad.

Did you know that some people are starting to doubt that the Holocaust existed? With all of the eye-witnesses, it would be REALLY hard to doubt that this terrible event happened...but some people do.

•The Cornet Crazie• said...

isn't it crazy, izori? and did you know that some german's, including many hitler youth members, when shown photos of concentration camps such as auschwitz thought that the photos were faked by the allies?