So it’s that wonderful time of the year. Time to clean things off the back burner, so here are a few lingering book reviews:
Bomber County by Daniel Swift–I kind of loved this book. Most of the WW2 books I have will get recycled in some way, either by giving them to friends or reselling to local bookstores. But I’m keeping this one. I’d give it 10 out of 5 stars, if that is even possible. This book is a personal journey that uses archive material and poetry to follow the path of the author’s grandfather, who was a bomber pilot and died near the end of the war. Now don’t get thrown off by the poetry part. Poetry isn’t always about rhyming couplets and star-crossed youths; it is very often a cultural snapshot of the time and of great significance to researchers. The archive materials chart the path of the grandfather; the poems chart the path of the time and place, and this creates a most readable and thoughtful narrative. 5/5 stars. Amazon linkage.
The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War by Phil Nordyke–This book is pretty cool in its own way. Critics might say that the 1 or so page introduction to each chapter isn’t enough to adequately describe a given subject or time frame. But hey, this is only partially about the words. You need those to introduce all the content that follows in each chapter. Many of the pictures are well known and published in many places over the years. Others are darkish and hazy offerings and I get that. This is a book with lots of pictures and not every one of them is going to be great. Still, I’d give this a 4/5 stars. Amazon linkage.
To D-Day and Back by Bob Beardon–I liked it. Beardon is no Webster or Sledge, but he did manage to carve out an easy going, laid-back narrative style. At times it was Ernie Pyle-eske (with some descriptions bordering on cliche). The strength of the book is Beardon’s descriptions after his capture in Normandy and his ordeal from there. There are prison camp tales, and moving and disturbing tales of life while moving behind Russian lines after his liberation. Truly for Beardon, it was a long, strange trip back to Texas. 3/5 stars. Amazon linkage.
On Writing by Stephen King–Okay this one isn’t WW2-themed but if you are a writer, get this book. I found my copy on a table at work under the sign FREE, so I count myself lucky. King takes his readers on a very personal journey here, from his early experiences sneaking in writing during breaks at a sweaty, awful sounding laundry company, to the struggles of overcoming physical hardship in in later years, and how writing has been there through it all. The second half of the book is mostly practical active for writers of any genre. The key? Find a place to write and shut the door. Go there everyday and write. No exceptions. Sounds easy, right? Were it so there would be millions of SKs. More advice? You gotta read, man. Read everything you can get your hands on as a way to figure out your style. More, you say? You gotta find your muse. In writing circles, this is a familiar trope, especially for poets, but I found King’s muse interesting. It is an old, fat, cigar chomping lout that keeps yelling at him (and writing…). Not exactly one of the 9 daughters of Zeus but a guiding spirit nonetheless. As far as audience goes, King argues that you are writing for one person. For him it is it his wife Tabitha. If you can make that one person “get you” and your “moves,” then you are on to something. 5/5 stars. Amazon linkage here.