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Category: Adolf Hitler Page 1 of 2

Non-fiction World War 2 book coming in 2019!

It is with incredible pride (and more than a little astonishment) that I announce having signed with Helion Books to write a book on a long-ignored campaign of World War 2! The book is due for the market in 2019.

More details will be coming later, but for now here’s a link to their website: http://www.helion.co.uk/

But be careful! They have so many amazing books you’ll end up buying something!



“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer. Unabridged audiobook, read by Grover Gardner.

46 cds and more than 50 hours of listening time and the best I can say for this history is that for 1959 it was probably pretty good. It is rare that the reader of an audiobook actually makes the book better, but such is the case here. The reader is brilliant. The book…not so much.

How can I take this seriously?

Good morning bookies. Sorry for the absence once again, life gets a bit wacky sometimes. West Tennessee is supposed to get something like 10″ of rain this weekend. Oh boy, where are my floaties?

Today is April 30th, 65 years to the day since Adolf Hitler committed suicide in Berlin. I mention this because today’s BBC article focuses on this event with reviews of two books written by Germans who fought for the English in WW2. The article would probably be quite interesting, except it is so riddled with factual errors that it’s hard to take it seriously. I had heard that the BBC’s journalistic integrity was shot, this seems to confirm this.

Two errors off the top that even cursory students of the war would know: first this sentence, “He had written them on 29 April earlier that year, then committed suicide, probably on 30 April – the exact date remains uncertain.”

It does? Where and who, exactly, are debating that he killed himself on April 30th? Every known and credible historian or witness verifies this, there is and never had been debate about this, unless you think aliens whisked him off to Argentina. I have no idea what this guy is talking about. Then, second, there is the well known photo from a brief newsreel of Hitler decorating some Hitler Youth on April 20th, his birthday, in the garden of the New Reichs Chancellery. What’s more, we even have the names of some of the boys. This was ten days before he killed himself. Yet the photo bears the caption: “Hitler made his wills and died some two months after this image was taken.” Not two months, ten days. Any student of World War II would know that. And if you didn’t know that, it’s worse, because you would believe this nonsense.

The tipoff should have come at the beginning of the article with the very poorly colorized photo at top. It looks like a 5 year old took crayons to somebody’s photo of Hitler on a street.

Well, anyway, for those interested in the books, and they sound fascinating, don’t be put off by the remarkably bad article.

Two new books on Hitler by German anti-Nazis

Secret Mussolini

Good morning bookies!

I realize this blog has become heavy with the historical reviews and such and I am working diligently to correct that for my crime fiction and SFF aficionados. Still, non-fiction books tend to get more in-depth reviews and so are easier to link to for this type of thing, plus the fact that it’s my blog and I can do what I want within the rules established by the google gods.

Ahem. Well, today’s entry concerns the publication of the diaries of Clara Petacci, mistress of Benito Mussolini. In and of herself Clara is not someone whose musings and scribblings would be published to world-wide acclaim some 60+ years after she was killed by Italian partisans and hung from a meat hook. Indeed, if she had not been the mistress of Il Duce there is very little chance she would have wound up hanging upsdie down in that Milano gas station. But she was and she did, and from 1932-1938 she kept a diary that now interests the world. Not only do they have interest for what they tell us about Mussolini, but also what she had to say about Hitler, Pope Pius and the world in general.

So we should all forgive Clara for being in love with the wrong man. Thanks, Clara, for keeping the diary. Sorry about the whole shooting you thing.

Secret Mussolini

A little of this, a dash of that

Good morning bookies! It’s bright and cool here in West Tennessee, most unusual for late August. We should be baking and we’re not.

So, Friday I was at the local Memphis Public Library book sale. I spent all morning there. I bought two books. It was dreadful. The library is now skimming off what they consider their best books and selling them on ebay. So, who is determining what books are what? ‘Why, we are!’ one befuddled woman told me. ‘We even sold a first edition the other day!”

God only knows what that book was they sold, whether it was first edition or a 20th. I can assure you this woman would not have known. But obviously whatever they had, if was not at the sale. Nothing but crap, beat up ex-library copies that have been around that sale for years now. A complete waste of time. If you’re thinking about going to a Memphis sale in the future, I wouldn’t bother. Unless, of course, you’re just looking for something to read and don’t mind the copy being a bit beat up, in which case you’ll probably find something.

*** Technically speaking, ancient tablets were the books of their time and so are germane to this blog about books. Right? Right. And it’s right in the wheelhouse of my imagination’s strike zone that the linked article describes archaeologists finding Turkish tablets more than 2700 years old, tablets that don’t just list the day to day activities of a temple, but also might verify facts concerning the Persian Empire’s expansionist tendencies in those days. Amazing people, amazing stuff. To put this in a time context, these tablets were contemporary to the founding of Rome.

Ancient Persian tablets found

*** A signed copy of Mein Kampf was recently sold at auction and, I must say, it went for less than I would have thought, 21,000 pounds, or roughly $38,000. Not only that, this copy was inscribed by Hitler to a fellow inmate at Landsberg Prison. Inscriptions from Hitler are quite rare. On the other hand, the book is more or less unreadable, the passages are so tangled and dense and rambling that one can look quite a while for coherence, without finding it. Not that anyone buying such a book would actually read it, mind you.

Signed Mein Kampf under the gavel

*** During World War II Germany created, or came close to creating, or at least thought about creating, a whole series of extraordinary, far-ahead-of-their-time weapons. The first stealth aircraft, the first operational jet fighter, the first operational rocket fighter, the first jet bomber, smart bombs with TV sets built into their nose, (and those were actually used in the war, too)…and, of course, the famed V2 rocket, the first ballistic missile, still the basis for most so-called SCUD missiles in use throughout the world. And for that particular little bit of worrisome hardware we can thank one Werner Von Braun.

Of course, after the war von Braun came to America and helped put us on the moon, so before we go getting all indignant let’s remember that while Braun might have been a Nazi scientist, he was our Nazi scientist.

That, at least, seems to be the general thought behind Dark side of the Moon: Wehrner von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race by Wayne Biddle. Von Braun was a rocket scientist, he designed and built the much feared V2 for Hitler, a weapon that killed thousands in London and Antwerp. But he was also a German and his country was at war. Like fellow scientists in the USSR, saying ‘no’ to research that could be used for weapons was not an option. If you weren’t useful, then you were taking up valuable resources.

Von Braun was a fascinating man and this might be one book I seek out to read.

A needed biography of Werner von Braun

*** The subject of the Italian resistance during World War II, the roving bands of guerillas who made life so miserable for the Germans and Fascist Italians after Italy’s surrender in 1943, is a subject almost begging for a good book to detail all of its many aspects. And, based on this review below, it still needs one. Or maybe the book that has been written just needs a better reviewer.

The headline of this book review mentions the book being biased; it’s hard to imagine the book is more biased than the reviewer. I mean, come on! How am I supposed to take you seriously when you’re using the subject of a review to launch your own political spin about modern Italian politics? This guy is obviously a leftist outraged that Italy was not allowed to become a communist country. Give me a break.

However, given the paucity of information available on this particular topic, the book does fill an important need. Now it just needs a better reader.

World War II behind the lines in Italy

Just one of those Sundays

Good day bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

Okay, first, I know that I said this blog would be more frequent now that personal stuff was out of the way, but that was premature. More personal stuff came up. Sorry about that. I’ll do my best, but ailing relatives need attention and I’m the only one who can give it.

*** The list of authors for The Southern Festival of Books is finally out, and the first name on the list is the most exciting. Buzz Aldrin will be there. That’s right, the original Moonwalker will be on hand to sign autographs and hold a seminar. Not sure what the agenda will be yet but I’m sure it will be special. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller might be there this year.

Authors scheduled for the Southern Festival of Books

*** A round-up of book reviews, starting with three Texas mysteries including the new one from David Morrell.

Texas Times Three

*** Sometimes, the causes of the politically correct are so convoluted that it’s hard to disentangle where one perceived insult stops and another one starts. Such is the case with a new book on the diaspora of the Jewish intelligentsia from Germany during the time of the Third Reich. Flight From the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 by Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt does not sound like the sort of books that Jewish scholars would get all mad about, does it? Except that those involved in the Holocaust, either as survivors or their families, or as scholars, want that piece of history all to themselves. The authors of Flight recall that at a presentation they were once asked “what does the history of Jewish refugees have to do with the Holocaust?”

Since when is victimization by the Nazis a zero sum game? Are those who were able to flee before becoming caught up in the Nazi death machinery somehow unworthy of being included in its victims? It’s very strange.

This book does, however, appear to be a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on one major cause of Germany’s failure in World War II, namely, its brain drain. It has long been one of my beliefs that aside from the Holocaust’s insanity, in and of itself, on sheer practical terms the loss of all of that technical expertise in fields the Nazis found themselves critically short of once war came, everything from nuclear science to factory management, was deadly stupidity.

The Jewish diaspora from Nazi Germany

*** And so Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, has died from cancer. I never had the chance to meet Mr. McCourt, but by all accounts he was a fine man and I’m sorry that he’s gone.

*** As something of a companion volume to the above comes another new book about why Hitler lost the war, contained in a one volume history. One of the recurring themes is that Hitler lost the war because he put Nazi rhetoric into practice, something I have believed for a long while now, so I may read this one myself. The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War. By Andrew Roberts. Allen Lane: 712 pages. 25 pounds. (Yikes!) To be published in the US by HarperCollins in 2011.

This seems to be a trend among historians, focusing on the economic causes of the war and their impact on the battlefield. This is all to the good, if the historian is good enough to make it interesting.

Hitler lost because he was Hitler

*** In addition to the above link, another reviewer weighs in with what they felt was new about the book, the rather old discovery that the German Wehrmacht was ill-prepared for winter war in Russia in 1941. Apparently Roberts’ one-volume history is interesting enough to excite the reviewers, which is good. But come on, writing a whole article about the Germans shivering in the snows of Russia?



Who knew? Or, rather, who didn’t know? Frankly, I expect better than this from the Telegraph.

Another look at Roberts’ new book.

*** And now, because the fascination with Nazism and Hitler seems matched only by the revulsion for same, there is yet another book another yet another lower level Nazi functionary that uses the premise to bash both the UK and the USA for their post-war use of former enemies to stave off future enemies.

Hunting Evil by Guy Walters is about Nazis used by MI6 and the CIA just after World War II at the beginning of the Cold War. The author is outraged that this happened. Which is understandable. But he wrote this article in English, not in Russian, so it isn’t all bad. And it’s not like the Russians didn’t also use former Nazis that fell into their hands against the West.

If there’s one thing I hate, really despise, it’s second-guessing decades after the event has occurred. Unless, of course, it’s me that’s doing it.

More Nazis used by the West

Catching Up

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

Your friendly neighborhood bookseller is stiff and sore and jet-lagged beyond belief, but dedicated to bringing you the best book blog possible, thus he finds himself clacking away on a hot, sunny morning in Memphis. Heat warnings are out again, 98 for a high, all is right with the world.

At least, it would be if I hadn’t dragged a cold back with me from Europe. Gack.

*** West Virginia University Library has a rare book room that would make bibliophiles of any caliber envious. Donated long ago by an alumnus, the collection includes Four Shakespeare First Folios. Wowser! It’s included here because, lets’ face it, bookies can’t get enough of reading about other people’s collections.

A collection to drool over

*** Who says books are for nerds and wimps? Certainly not Captain Nathan Harlan. Many moons ago the Indiana National Guard officer bought a copy of The Federalist, aka The Federalist Papers, at a flea market, without knowing exactly what he had bought. He found out last week, however, when the exceedingly rare book netted $80,000 just before he shipped out for another tour of duty in Iraq. Heritage Galleries even waived their 20% fee for his service to the country.

Captain sells a treasure to support his family while he is away

*** Being a southerner brings with it certain conflicting feelings regarding the US Civil War (aka The Second Revolution, The War of Northern Aggression and, what I feel is the most accurate, The War For Southern Independence). On the one hand, nobody in their right mind can think of slavery as anything other than a barbaric practice, an example of Man’s inhumanity to Man at its worst. On the other hand, however, many southerners inherently feel that the South had a right to govern itself if that’s what it wanted. After all, there is really very little difference between the feelings of southerners who fought for independence and Americans who fought against the British in 1776. Many Southerners believe the South had the right to do what it did, and yet are glad the south lost because it ended slavery. Quite a schism for the mind.

And now Auburn University has received one of the most poignant documents of that awful war, the letter that Robert E. Lee sent to US Grant requesting terms of surrender. Holy cow! It’s hard to imagine a more important document emerging from that war. And value? Cut signatures of Lee are worth thousands, so how much is a letter with unique historical content worth? At least 6 figures, I’m sure. Anyone in the Auburn area should try to see this letter once it goes on display.

Rare Lee letter acquired by Auburn

*** It’s hard to imagine a more despicable person than a book vandal, but a book thief would qualify. The University of Kansas library has been afflicted with both recently. If you want to stop this from happening, let me deal with them. I can assure you that would end it.

Evil is as evil does

And now some book reviews that have piled up since I’ve been gone.

*** One of the enduring mysteries of world history is Why did Adolf Hitler hate Jews so much? The answer would explain much about the history of the 20th century, and yet with Hitler himself long since dead (or, at least, locked away in a UFO circling Mercury and therefore unavailable) the answer to that question will forever be a matter of conjecture. A new book, Hitler’s Jewish Hatred: Cliche and Reality by Ralf-George Reuth, takes a different tack from most historians, who date Hitler’s bigotry to a number of different causes, most commonly his life on the streets of Vienna before World War One. Reuth takes a different approach, claiming that it was his experiences after the war that spawned his obsessive anti-semitism. It’s an interesting theory but hard for me to buy.

Now, maybe his feelings that the Jews betrayed Germany during WW1 solidified an existing hatred, that’s certainly possible if not probable, but I find it hard to buy that the post-war experiences alone caused the Holocaust to form in Hitler’s mind. Still, it’s good to have new scholarship on this ultra-important topic.

Another answer to what caused the Holocaust

*** Speaking of atrocities committed during World War Two, one of the most brutal was the Bataan Death March. When the US forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese in April of 1942, no one suspected the horrors to come. Starving and sick, the Americans and their Philippine allies were forced to march 66 miles without food or water, those who fell out were shot or stabbed, the beginning of more than 3 years of hell and torture at the hands of the Japanese. A new book on the topic, Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman, brings a fresh perspective to this sometimes forgotten chapter of the war.

The brutalities of Nazi Germany have been well represented, but those of the Japanese are sometimes overlooked. They shouldn’t be. In some respects the Japanese were even worse than the Nazis, not only to the civilian populations they conquered but to the foreign soldiers they captured. Stories of beheaded Americans are not uncommon.

Remembering the horrors of the Japanese

*** When America entered the Second World War, their British allies viewed American generals with nearly open contempt. They, the British, were considered the professionals, the Americans as little more than amateurs. For their part, the Americans considered the British as plodding dinosaurs. Both were right. Neither country supplied the fighting troops with the upper leadership it deserved. A good example for the British is Archibald Wavell, the commander in North Africa early in the war who could have swamped the Italians in Libya and forestalled the Germans from deploying Rommel and the Afrika Korps. Like Montgomery, however, Wavell suffered from an excess of caution and the chance was lost.

A new biography of this important general seems destined to fill a gap in the literature of the war. Wavell wasn’t the worst of generals, he had his good moments, but good or bad he played an pivotal role throughout the war and deserves to be studied. By all accounts The Empire’s Soldier by Adrian Fort is a pleasure to read, despite its length, and so is included here because Wavell really is a man who needs to be known.

Archibald Wavell

*** It has long been my view that among the monsters of the 20th century, it’s really impossible to choose between either Stalin or Hitler as being the worst. Hitler has gotten the most press, but that’s mostly because German records and memoirs have been easier to access than those from the former Soviet Union. Even those not translated into English are somewhat accessible: for example, I read enough German to make out the gist of most things, especially when a dictionary or online translator is available. Language is a barrier, but not an insurmountable one. Russian, however, doesn’t even use the same alphabet, and opponents of Stalin weren’t exactly eager to chronicle their opposition.

But while countless millions of Soviet citizens were killed to satisfy Stalin’s rampant paranoia, there was one man that he feared that he should have feared: Leon Trotsky. Murdered in Mexico in 1940, Trotsky was a seminal figure in early Soviet history and deserves to be studied. Thus a new biography is a welcome addition to the history of the 20th century. Stalin’s Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky by Bertrand Patenaude, helps put this man’s life into context as the USSR teetered on the brink of the Second World War.

A new look at the life of Leon Trotsky

*** Given the almost ultra-left wing slant on today’s college campuses, it’s hard to think that prior to WW2 these same schools were a haven for American Nazis, but a new book makes it clear that this was, in fact, the case. The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses by Stephen H. Norwood. We forget now about how Nazism was viewed before its excesses were known; how many people are familiar with the American Bund? Crowds packed large auditoriums were the US flag flew side by side with the Nazi flag and this was seen as a legitimate political viewpoint. Examining how our schools of higher education responded is a fascinating counter-point to the revisionism that seeks to exonerate those same schools from ever having supported fascism.

Nazi influence on American campuses before World War Two

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

Friday the 13th…anybody going to see the remake of the Jamie Lee Curtis classic that opens today? Boy, I can’t wait to miss it. Slasher pics are my cuppa, but I know otherwise unreasonable people who love this stuff. Ah, well. To each his own.

*** This isn’t exactly book related, but you know how I love nonsense, and you know how I love history, so when an article appears that combines the two I find it irresistible. Did you know that the Nazis fled Germany at the end of the war, using a flying saucer to escape to Antarctica? You did? Oh. Well, you’re one up on me then. Aside from the fact that Antarctica seems a bit chilly for year-round habitation (unless that UFO has one heck of a heating system), why not just flee to a country sympathetic to the Nazi cause that has a more appealing climate? One with a history of aiding Nazis, like, say, Paraguay?

Of course, that’s a reasonable question, which has no place in this new exhibit. Like eating a gooey dessert that’s all sugar and chocolate, this one tasted great but isn’t very filling. New Swabia? Operation Highjump? Man, I like this guy.

One might also note that this article appears in Der Spiegel, a newspaper that one might think akin to the New York Times. That’s a fair comparison, too. Just as the New York Times is billed as ‘All the News That’s Fit to Invent’, Der Spiegel once paid millions of dollars for the Hitler Diaries. Which, of course, were fakes, and bad fakes at that. But while some folk might think that even good journalists can be fooled by a hoax, read the book Selling Hitler to understand just where greed can lead a person. Nazi UFOs are certainly not out of place in Der Spiegel.

History as junk science…tasty!

*** Speaking of Nazis, the German Historical Museum took a massive hit the other day when a German court ordered them to return a collection of some 4,000 rare art posters to the family from which the Nazis took them in 1938. The Museum claims this will gut their holdings. Boo-hoo. The collection is worth some 4.5 million euros.

71 years later a family gets its property back

*** In the category of ‘Well what do you know about that?’, Thomas Pynchon has written his first crime novel, Inherent Vice. Set in LA right after the Manson murders, reportedly with a heavy dose of surfers, sex, drugs and rock and roll, it should be interesting at the very least. It could be horrible or it could be great. Either way, it’s always good when an iconic writer brings out a new book.

Pynchon breaks new ground, for him

*** As many of you know, I consider ebooks, and Amazon’s Kindle, in particular, as grotesque examples of technology ill-used. Horrible, nasty things. And, in the case of the Kindle 2, bad publicity, too. See, Amazon thought how nifty it would be for this device to have an audio feature. You don’t have to just read it from the tiny screen, you can listen, too.


It seems that audiobooks are already covered by a copyright and this may well be infringement. The Kindle gets partially exposed. What a shame. And, if it turns out not to be an infringement, it has certainly dredged up some ill will with the Author’s Guild. Which raises the question, has Amazon been taking advice from ebay on how to alienate people?

Of course, Amazon isn’t stupid, unlike ebay, and in the end I think they will iron this out so the Kindle may proceed. Thus proving that people will buy just about anything if you market it correctly.

P.T. Barnum would be proud

*** And finally, some scary news. Dan Brown, author of the second worst novel ever written, The Da Vinci Code, has reportedly finished his newest book. It’s hard to imagine there is a wooden character or cliche that wasn’t used the last time, or that any bad research still exists for him to use as an attack on the Catholic Church, but to believe that is to be unreasonably optimistic. Writers like Brown seemingly have an endless supply of gibberish on which to draw and an equally endless supply of people willing to pay to read it.

Nor is this the snotty and condescending view of an arrogant and condescending snot. No. It’s nothing more than the personal view of your friendly neighborhood bookseller that someone who writes a novel and asks people to spend their hard-earned money to buy it might actually write something worth reading.

I know, I know, that’s asking too much.

Are there any cliches left to use?

A $100,000 kind of day

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

Thanksgiving morning dawns bright and clear here in West Tennessee and already the cooking is underway. Is this what you prefer? Is cooking the traditional Thanksgiving meal the way you would choose to spend this time? Or would lasagna be just as good? Personally, I would love a homemade pizza, some of my spinach balls, pasta with meat balls…I think I was a Roman at some point, or Renaissance Italian.

*** $100,000 books are not all that rare. In the auction houses and records you find more than a few of them, but I’m not sure there has ever been a book that cost $100,000 when it was brand new. Not exactly the sort of thing you would find a McB&N, jammed in alongside the bags of Starbucks Christmas blend and the scented bookmarks.

Now, I love the works of Michelangelo as much, if not more, than the next guy, but $100k seems just a bit steep. If you pick one up on your way home, however, you might want to read the next story for the perfect accessory for such a book.

I’ll take a dozen

*** $100,000 bookmarks are probably even more rare than $100,000 books, but that’s the price one man was asking for an 18 gold carat bookmark that once belonged to…you know it, right…who else could it be?…who do these sorts of weird things always seem to belong to?…

…Adolf Hitler.

Of course.

That’s right, a Romanian man was arrested for trying to sell a stolen bookmark that purportedly belonged to Hitler, a gift from his mistress/wife Eva Braun to console him on the loss of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad. (Is that how one forgets the loss of 350,000 of your best soldiers, with a gold bookmark?) The no-doubt shady Romanian was asking $150,000 for the artifact but would settle for $100,000. What a deal.

Stupid Eastern European botches sale of illegal Hitler bookmark

*** Can the shame of the French surrender in World War II ever be fully forgotten or erased? Late night talk show hosts certainly hope not. Where they would be without the French to drag out and bash every time some country meekly surrenders to an enemy, or if one needs a really nasty insult for a politician.

Anyway, during the Nazi occupation a number of Frenchmen (like, 95%) did everything they could to get along with the Nazis without fully cooperating. The grayest of areas and after the war the French have spent decades deciding exactly who crossed the line and who didn’t, and mostly making excuses for those who did. Thus we have the new book, The Shameful Peace: How French Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation written by Frederic Spotts and published by Yale University Press.

So very French of them, and no doubt there will be great interest from the general public in such a cathartic work. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller, however, while reading just about everything he can get his hands on concerning that war, will probably never get around to reading this one. It’s probably a great book, just not my cuppa.


*** Borders has decided to remain an independent, publicly traded company. Now, long-time readers of this blog will note that BBG is not a big fan of chain bookstores such as McB&N, but he does admit to having a soft spot for Borders. Instead of 100 copies of the latest travesty from James Patterson, they will only carry 80 and then pick up 20 interesting titles from smaller publishers with better authors. This is what bookselling on the enormous level should be about and, while local stores do it better, at least they are trying. Now if we could just work $100,000 into the story somehow.

Back in action

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

First, on a personal level, I’m sorry that I haven’t been on top of this blog for the last week or so. My last uncle died Thursday and we have been saying goodbye. He was of that generation that won World War II and served his country for 34 years, was a gourmet cook, grew his own vegetables, fished…well, the Greatest Generation. We’re going to miss men such as he.

*** And now, on to book news! If you own a Brick & Mortar bookstore, beware. Who knew it was such a dangerous occupation? I mean, come on. The British are supposed to be known for their polite reserve, somebody needs to tell this clod.


*** ABEbooks is once again having issues with some of its features that are used by sellers. In particular, sellers are unable to print shipping manifests, making it impossible at the moment to ship their orders. This has happened many times in the past and never lasts long, but is another indication for customers that sometimes a bookseller is dealing with things behind the scenes that cause their orders to ship late.

*** With our never-ending fascination with all things Nazi, in an effort to understand how such a regime could come to power, we have examinations of just about everything that happened before, during and after the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But new topics are still coming to light and intrepid authors are digging up forgotten but important subjects.

In 1931 Hans Litten prosecuted four Brown Shirts (SA men) for assault and attempted murder. The Weimar Republic may have been a weak democracy but it did have the gears and machinery in place to protect all of its citizens, and there were brave men who stood against the rising tide of violence and tried to impose law and order. Few survived the coming years. This book seems to overplay the actual threat that Hans Litten posed to Hitler and the Nazis, a forgiveable stance that many non-fiction authors take.


And, since we’re talking Nazis again, surely fans of films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark (Nazis in 1935 chasing about jungles and looking for artifacts) and The Boys From Brazil (Nazis building an empire in South America) will read this story and understand where the concepts for those movies (and the book of The Boys From Brazil) came from. There really were Nazis mucking about the Amazon basin and promoting its use as a place for expansion.


*** Another bookstore is passing into history, this time in Amherst. Your friendly neighborhood BBG never had the pleasure of visiting the store, but he would have if he could have.


*** Obituaries: Last Thursday, photo-journalist Alex Rivera, famous for his work covering the Civil Rights Movement, died at age 95 in Durham, N.C. Hal Roth, author of 12 books and an avid sailor who circumnavigated the world three times, died in Easton, MD., after a 2 1/2 year battle with lung cancer. He was 81.

*** I find it very encouraging that in this age of aesthetically bereft non-art such as ebooks, there are still people who go about lovingly making books the way that books have been made for centuries, as crafted objects that are not only beautiful but will stand the test of time. That’s just one small part of the 3rd annual New York Art Book Fair, held last weekend, but to me it’s quite an important part. Humans in general are losing our ability to make things, to actually construct something the way it has always been done, something with endurance. I find this whole Art Fair most satisfactory.


*** Remember Joe Eszterhas, screenplay writer for ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Showgirls’ and many other movies? In 2001 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and has been battling the disease ever since. But not alone. His new book, Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, tells of his re-connection with his Catholic faith and subsequent survival. Living now in Ohio, if you see him watching his kids play Little League, don’t be surprised.

*** Yes, like billions of others, I’m a James Bond fan. Not in every shape and form, mind you, Sean Connery has no equal (not even a pretender to the throne) until now, but while I didn’t particularly love Roger Moore or the other Bonds, I didn’t hate them, either. So if I had the time I think I probably would read Sir Roger’s new Bond biography My Word is My Bond. Stuff like this might be thought of as trashy, but then, who cares?


*** And who knew that the next big thing would be business books? Not me, but such appears to be the case in the wake of the credit crisis/Congressional mis-management of their duties/Bailout/recession. Personally, I like it. Somebody makes money no matter what the economy does, might as well be authors.


*** This just in: archaeologists have found the oldest Hebrew text ever unearthed on a pottery shard near the valley where David slew Goliath. preliminary dating puts the age at 3,000 years old and, while it has yet to be fully translated, a few words can be made out.


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