Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty may be the most fascinating book I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s the rare book where you think about the subject and have a hard time believing you are so involved with it.
On the surface, Red Plenty is, for lack of a better term, a literary history of [...]
I grew up in an era when people still wrote letters. In fact, I remember my mother sitting down at least once a week writing to friends and relatives out of town, many on a weekly or biweekly basis. Today, though, letters are more rare. We tend to rely on email or text messaging to [...]
War crimes trials are a 20th Century invention. Although a vehicle for punishment and, perhaps, the reestablishment of the rule of law, one has to wonder the extent to which individual defendants truly acknowledge any real guilt.
This is seen in the autobiography written by Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Hoess while in prison following [...]
Although I’ve only read three books this year, my early effort at spontaneity over planning in my reading selections means two of those books were biographies of two women at about the same time. They resulted in impressions as different as the subjects.
On the disappointing end of the spectrum was Eva Braun: Life with [...]
Early into reading Anna Funder’s Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, I came across a passage that made me think, “That is truly Kafkaesque.” For some reason, that sent my mind on a digression into the difference between something being Kafkaesque and something being Orwellian. While I eventually sorted it out in my own [...]
The main ramifications of historic events are frequently easy to see. Often, though, we overlook the ripples that produce unexpected, or even untended, effects. Take 9/11, for example. It didn’t take a great deal of thought to realize it would bring the U.S. into direct armed conflict with al-Qaeda. And it was barely six weeks [...]
World War II is often seen as the last “good war,” a clear-cut conflict between good and evil. And there was plenty of evil to go around, not just in the Axis forces. Take, for example, the case of Marcel Petiot.
Petiot, a French physician, was convicted of murdering 26 people in Paris during World [...]