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