Fascinating Read About Seemingly Forgotten History. Let’s face it, these days (and even when this elder Millenial was in school in the late 80s – early 2000s), American schools (at least, perhaps, outside the Southwest) barely even teach World War 1 itself – much less the other actions that were going on as America was trying to stay away from that war. I knew of exactly one story from the Punitive Expeditions before reading this book, and that was the story of George S Patton’s first ever motorized attack – one of the events early in his career that made him truly legendary. Here, Guinn does a truly remarkable job of setting the stage and scope of the entire situation, from its earliest beginnings (even repeatedly referencing when the Spanish first came to central America) through the fates of the key players he has spent the text explaining. If you’ve never heard of this last war on Continental US soil before, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you want to understand more context for a lot of the current simmering tensions along the US/ Mexico border… do yourself a favor and read this book. Yes, the actions themselves were now slightly over a century ago – but if you’re able to read at all, it means that it was in the time of no further from you than your great-great grandparents, and these actions still reverberate to this day in the lands and minds of those whose own great-great grandparents (or more recent) were actively involved here. Very “readable” narrative, never sounds overly “academic”, and well documented to boot. Very much recommended.
This took an aspect of WWI I’d never heard of – the American Women’s Hospital – and showed a fictional version of the life of its people in what seems to be a very realistic manner, never hiding the various horrors of that particular war – be it discussing bodies decomposing in No Man’s Land, the very real threat of chemical weapons, aerial bombardment, or even the Paris Gun. Along the way, we get another all too real tale of how a life can turn in an instant and the social pressures of suddenly finding oneself in dire circumstances. We even get a discussion late in the book of things not usually spoken of in that era, but which were obviously very real.
But there is one particular commentary aspect of the story that I do want to mention, and that is a particular situation involving a discussion of things that should be “given” to the troops.
You see, for this ardent anarchist, such discussions always bring to mind the following Ayn Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged: ““Miss Taggart, we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. So I’ll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word ‘give’.” (Full disclosure: I literally have a version of the title of this particular section of the book, “A is A”, – indeed, not far removed from this very sentence – tattooed on my wrist.)
Without giving anything away, let’s just say that giving the troops the thing in discussion is held as an ideal, and quite frankly it is an ideal this reader for one does not personally share. 🙂
All of that said, this really was an excellent book and is very much recommended if for the other atypical discussions alone. (Though seriously, it is an excellent story even absent the few sporadic instances of social commentary solidly embedded within the overall arc of the story.) So go buy it already. 🙂
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release of the Week: Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel”
Century Old Memory. In this repackaging of a 3 yr old book under a former title, Gillard weaves an excellent pair of mysteries across a century of the English countryside. Both mysteries drag the reader in and compel them to keep reading via well paced clues and ultimately resolutions, though one of the mysteries isn’t resolved until the closing pages of the book. Excellent work, and my first from this author. Very much recommended.
This book opens with a woman trapped in the Philadelphia High Society scene due to the era and her parents’ desire to try to break into it. Her problem is that she doesn’t want that life – she wants to be a fully independent woman, and has even taken part in the suffrage movement while in college. She already works as a switchboard operator, and when the call comes that the Army needs just such ladies for the war effort in Europe, she leaves the social pages and heads to the front lines.
This was an excellent historical fiction book that got most of the details I remember from my not overly detailed studies of the era correct and weaves a great story of people trying to find their way during the social turmoil of life in the 1910s. While historical fiction isn’t normally my thing, Runyan’s work here proves that I may need to explore opening myself even more. Yet another stand out work from Lake Union Publishing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from Runyan in particular.
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Girls On The Line by Aimie K Runyan”