Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

*** Today is the 233rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps. As they say, Semper Fi, Mac.

*** Generosity, ignorance or something more sinister? It seems that UK charity Oxfam found something quite unusual in its deposit bin, a set of 18th century books on the English Civil War, bound in leather and tooled in gold. Who put them there and why? You would think a charity would not look a gift horse in the mouth. But Oxfam, it would seem, has some cheek about them. It seems there are only 4 books and the set should have six. They want the rest.

That’s right, they are looking for the original owner so they can possibly get the missing volumes and get more money for the set. This seems a bit risky, if you ask me. What if the owner has giver’s remorse, claims they were stolen and wants them back? Or perhaps someone who was angry with them donated them without permission. Maybe the owner died and his heirs donated them not knowing they had value. We here a will follow this story closely and report any updates.

*** Some people would be sad to see a school sell of its treasures to fund repairs to its infrastructure. It seems that New Zealand’s Nelson College is selling off part of a massive collection of rare works on New Zealand and the area to fund upkeep. That’s too bad, of course, it really is. At the same time, it does seem sort of Circle-of-Life, doesn’t it?

*** Quite by accident I popped onto Ebay yesterday, having clicked the wrong bookmark. What a surprise! The site looks awful, junked up with harsh colors hurting my eyes. I left quickly, so glad I no longer do business there. What a mess.

*** The purpose of this blog is not to promote movies or TV shows. However, since I’m the blogger, I can if I want to. And this promo for an upcoming BBC documentary even has a book to follow, so I can justify it even on those grounds.

Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust have long been considered the most evil regime of the 20th Century. One reason, frankly, is because they are such an easy target. Not only were they truly evil, but they were also quite memorable. The uniforms, the pageantry, the figures themselves. Who doesn’t know the names of Himmler or Goebbels? And the numbers of deaths they are responsible for are staggering.

But by any measure you can think of, either numbers or just sheer wasteful brutality, Stalin and the Soviets are equally as bad and quite possibly even worse. Which is why the above linked article is so welcome to this friendly neighborhood bookseller. Despite the postwar hype about Hitler’s plans for the West, the fact is that he never really had any concrete concepts about destroying the USA; his understanding of America was really quite poor. Stalin, on the other hand, knew America much better and was a far greater threat. And during the war FDR knew it, as did Churchill. But while Churchill viewed Stalin as an evil necessity, FDR cozied up to him and gave away half of Europe at Yalta, based strictly on the idea that he alone could control Stalin.

History, it seems, is finally beginning to deal with the truth.

How many people did Stalin murder before the war even began?

*** It should come as no surprise that, despite the countless books already written on Churchill, major historians such as Carlo D’Este are still writing new biographies on the English Lion. Focusing on Churchill the soldier, the book looks fascinating, and I can think of at least one person for whom it would make an ideal Christmas gift.

*** Father Andrew Greeley is in critical condition at a Chicago hospital after falling and fracturing his skull. Author of more than fifty books, I’m betting a lot of people weren’t even aware that he was a Catholic priest.