#BookReview: War By Other Means by Daniel Akst

WWII Like You’ve Never Seen It Before. This is an account primarily of WWII and specifically a few particular people and their associates within the war – and these are people who you may have heard of, but likely never heard of their actions within the WWII period. As the description states, some of these people became quite famous indeed *after* WWII for their actions during the Vietnam / Civil Rights era – but those actions were originated when they were 20 years younger, during the trials and travails that history now knows as World War 2. As an anarchist who strives toward pacifism himself, learning of these people – several of whom I had never heard of before, and the others of whom I had never heard of this side of before – was utterly fascinating, and indeed actually eye opening, as even I had never heard of the philosophy of personalism before reading this book. Now, I intend to research it further.

The *singular* detriment to this book is that while it is clear in the narrative that the book is quite well researched indeed… the Advance Reader Copy of this text I read had barely any bibliography at all, clocking in at just 5% of the overall text when a minimum of around 20% is much more common for even barely-researched-at-all texts.

Still, even if the publisher doesn’t correct this flaw at actual publication, this is absolutely a worthy read and one that anyone who wishes to discuss the events and impacts of WWII needs to study in order to have a more complete picture of that era. Very much recommended.

This review of War By Other Means by Daniel Akst was originally written on October 20, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Last Of The Seven by Steven Hartov

For this blog tour we’re looking at a WWII action tale built more for guys, without the emotional impact of similar works in women’s fiction. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Last Of The Seven by Steven Hartov.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Slow Start Builds To Action-Packed Finish. This book is one that starts with an intriguing mystery – a man shows up at a British post in the northern Africa desert during the Africa Campaign of WWII wearing a German uniform and claiming to be British – and builds a bit slowly and at times seemingly disjointedly – random flashbacks to this soldier’s memories from Jewish persecutions in Berlin – to a bit of a romance middle and then an action packed final mission reminiscent of most any WWII movie. Overall a solid war tale for guys, with a lot of the emotional punch of women’s fiction WWII historical fiction largely removed in favor of showing people actively being blown apart or shredded by machine gun fire. Recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher’s details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Last Of The Seven by Steven Hartov”

#BlogTour: The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tense and visceral spy thriller set in an oft-overlooked area of WWII. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Tense Spy Thriller In Oft-Overlooked Area Of WWII. This tale was exactly what I said in the title of the review – a tense spy thriller based in the OSS days of the CIA during WWII and apparently based on the experiences of a real-life actress-turned-spy. Here, we see theoretically neutral Spain (under dictator Francisco Franco, in the early part of his reign) as a hotbed for spying by both sides and the tense and sometimes deadly stakes that arise from any spy story. But we also get a much more intimate and personal look at issues involving trust and betrayal, and throughout the text the reader is kept wondering as much as the protagonist is: just who *can* you trust? One of the more interesting features of this particular tale was the series of letters the protagonist’s grandmother writes – knowing she’ll never be able to send them – describing her ordeals in Paris as France falls and during the war. Overall an excellent tale well told, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including the book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Secret Keeper by Siobahn Curham”

#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring

For this blog tour we’re looking at a moving portrait of a loving daughter trying to understand her tortured artist father… and a protective sister trying to prevent her artist brother from becoming too haunted by the war they are living through. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring.

Moving Portrait Of Tortured Artist And Loving Daughter. This is an interesting dual timeline historical, one in which a man is at the center of both timelines… and yet his own perspective is never once actually included in the narrative. And yet despite this, the book does *not* come across as misandristic at all, as the two perspectives we *do* get – the man’s older sister in WWII Florence and his daughter in 2019 – are both seeking to understand him in their own ways. Thus, this book actually becomes an interesting look at how the experience of war ultimately shapes lives in so many divergent ways. While little of the horrors are shown “on screen”, some are, including a few murders, torture with a cigarette, general abuse, and a rape attempt (that may or may not be successful). Also discussed is how the Jews of the area are rounded up, gang rapes (alluded to but not directly shown), and how a citizenry can live with themselves not stopping either. So truly a lot of horrific stuff – and even after the Allies “liberate” the city, at least a few pages are devoted to the continued deprivations. Truly a well rounded look at a difficult and trying period – and the modern story of a daughter trying to understand the messages her tortured father left behind are solid as well, without having quite the horrific impact of the WWII scenes. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring”

#BookReview: Driving Back The Nazis by Martin King

Engaging Account Of Oft Overlooked Era. The period between D-Day (and the summer of 1944 generally) and the Battle of the Bulge (again, and winter 1944-45 generally) is one of the more overlooked eras of WWII, particularly in the zeitgeist of at minimum Americans. (I cannot speak to what Europeans think/ know, as I’ve never been closer to that continent than off the coast of the State of New Hampshire.) Here, King sets out to tell the tales of this overlooked period via numerous first hand accounts and other sources, showing through the eyes of the people that were there what was happening and through the other sources of history what was going on around those events. This is one of those books that will serve as a wakeup call to those who romanticize this particular war and these particular soldiers, as King makes the point quite well – and repeatedly – that given the pervasive and frequent abuses from *all* sides, there truly were truly few innocents involved in any angle of this, certainly of the adult (and even teenager/ young adult) variety. Even knowing that both of my grandfathers were there among some of these very events (both would survive the Bulge itself), I find King’s prose and commentary compelling here. He does a tremendous job of truly showing just how horrific this period was on *everyone* involved, not just the soldiers and not just the victims of the Holocaust – though he does indeed cover many of the horrors both of those groups saw in this period as well. Truly an outstanding book, and one anyone interested in WWII needs to read. Very much recommended.

This review of Driving Back The Nazis by Martin King was originally written on April 25, 2021.