[Review] Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Random House. October 29, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Essays.
Pages: 187 printed pages.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Essay readers.
Rating: Very good.

Mary Oliver’s Goodreads‘ author page.

Website for Mary Oliver.

Facebook page for Mary Oliver.

Direct link to the book @ Penguin Random House.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Summary:

Upstream is an assortment of essays with various subjects all propelling the reader to continue Upstream.

Some examples of subjects are Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, birds, owls, and other nature subjects.

I believe most of the essays are pulled from other books she has written to compile this work.

My Thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read written by Mary Oliver. I’ve heard other readers and writers remark about her. I’ve had her on my radar to read for a while.

Some of the essays I love more than others.

  1. I love “Power and Time.” Creativity needs quiet.
  2. I love section three on Ralph Waldo Emerson. I enjoyed reading about her analysis of his writing style, his personal life, and the particular subjects he wrote. She expressed how reading his words felt to her ears.
  3. I love “Some Thoughts on Whitman.” I love her feelings on his message especially in Leaves of Grass.
  4. “Owls.” I’m a lover of owls and enjoyed reading her observations of them.

Upstream is a book to read on a day when you need to relax and be transported to another place where there is life beyond the day’s troubles.

I feel Upstream is a solid introduction to Oliver’s writings.

Advertisement

[Review] D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose

Publisher and Publication Date: Crown Publishing. April 23, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. Resistance in France during World War II. Espionage. Women in literature.
Pages: 394. I counted every written page. From pages 289 to 394 is Acknowledgements, Notes, Bibliography, Index, and About the Author.
Format: Hardcover. Library binding.
Source: Public library.
Audience: World War II history readers, especially those with an interest in the Resistance work in France.
Rating: Very good.

Author page @ Goodreads for Sarah Rose.
Website/ Twitter.

Summary:

A character chart is located before the first chapter. The characters are Andrée Borrel, Lise de Baissac, Odette Sansom, Yvonne Rudellat, Mary Herbert, Francis Suttill, Gilbert Norman, Peter Churchill, Claude de Baissac. In addition, I noted other characters: Hélène Aron, Andre Girard, Major Karl Bömelburg, André Marsac, and Phyllis Latour.

Beginning in 1940, England recruited 39 women to train for various spy work in a new government agency called the Special Operations Executive or SOE. These women were recruited because most young men were busy in military service. These women were from all walks of life. They spoke French. They were all trained with knowledge and abilities to carry out specific spy and espionage work in France. Some examples of the work are radio operators and sabotage efforts.

The inside flap cover of the book mentions Sarah Rose used extensive research for the book, including “recent declassified files.”

Odette Sansom was recruited in 1942. Her story has been written about in other books I’ve read, and she is a defining character in D-Day Girls.

The book begins in 1942, and the climax will be during the D-Day invasion of Normandy beaches in France.

My Thoughts:

I’ve mentioned this before, but World War II history is one of my favorite subjects to read. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonfiction or fiction. I like all of them. I’ve read children to adult books in this subject.

The principal reason I love this genre is my dad was a veteran in World War II. He was a veteran of Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944.

I stood on that beach with dad and other family members in the fall of 1999. Dad reminisced about that event. It was then I realized his story was no longer a story told in bits and pieces at the dinner table. His story was real. Violent. Historical. Memorable.

Several reasons why I love D-Day Girls:

  1. There is no fluffy stuff in the book. What I mean is the book delivers exactly what the inside flap summarized about the book. The women involved in the SOE work in France in the two years before the D-Day invasion. Fluffy is added material in a book that creates a larger and longer work with information not necessarily pertaining to the main topic.
  2. No one character is in the spotlight. The work they all did as a whole is explored and studied and recreated for the reader.
  3. I’m amazed at the courage, bravery, ingenuity and savvy nature of all of them. Even one of the last characters in the book who is suggested as not that bright is a person of determination.
  4. I saw one of the most important traits of a spy, to be one step ahead of the enemy. To think and plan and be one step ahead of them.
  5. A baby is difficult to hide. In one person’s case it is a double blessing for them.
  6. D-Day Girls is a concise, panoramic view, and engaging read.

[Review] Berlin: Life and Death in the City at the Center of the World by Sinclair McKay

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. August 23, 2022.
Genre: Nonfiction. History.
Pages: 464.
Format: E-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: World War II history readers with a setting of Berlin, Germany.
Rating: Very good.

Link @ Amazon.

Sinclair Lewis’s author page at Goodreads.

Summary:

Beginning in 1919, just after World War II, the city of Berlin is explored in its history, culture, society, and its changing politics.

The book holds more information about pre-World War II, World War II, and post-World War II Berlin. There is a brief analysis of the period during the fall of the Berlin wall. However, my interests are where the book’s emphasis is held-the war years.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read more books on World War II than after the war. This is what drew me to read this book. It is the main reason that held my interest.

Several reasons on what I learned or why I enjoyed this book:

  1. The bombing raids over Berlin were filled with women and children. I have empathy for them. McKay is descriptive about the shelters, bombings; and later when the Russians are in Berlin at the close of the war, the raping of the women-women of all ages.
  2. Brief memoirs are given of people who lived in Berlin. These are not lengthy but serve a strong purpose to personalize the book rather than let it be academic in nature.
  3. Some of the memoirs are of Jews who hid during the entirety of the war.
  4. The Nazis used the poverty and sadness of the people after World War I for their agenda. Their agenda included the young people in Hitler youth groups. It is eye-opening and disturbing how people can be taken advantage of and misled to the extent of indoctrination to mass murders and war. I have empathy for the beginnings of how they must have felt after World War I. I cannot agree to decisions that were made.
  5. Several things I’d not heard of before about Berlin society and culture. For example, there was a craze to be a nudist. This happened right after World War I. I did not know that there were revolutionary demonstrations after World War I. I knew the Nazis began to rise and have demonstrations. I did not know about other political groups.
  6. There is a chapter with a focus on the history of film. There were 300 cinemas in Berlin at the time of World War II. Hitler loved film, and he chronicled his ideology and work.
  7. Berlin had been a place that was tolerant of the gay culture. There were doctors who had helped people transition. This changed during the Nazi years.
  8. I had mentioned this in number 1 above. There is a disturbing story of a young woman who worked in a grocery store during the time the Russians came into Berlin. She was raped on the counter during the time the store was open. This rape was public. It was done with the intention to dishonor and shame her in view of other people.
  9. By 1960 there were over 200,000 people who in East Berlin left to live in freedom on the other side. This is such an important chapter, to share memoirs about those who tried to escape.

I want to clarify. I do not have empathy for the Nazi machine. They were mass murderers and instigated a war that led to defeat. I have great empathy for those like the woman who was raped in a grocery store. I have empathy for any child who was abused and suffered. I am also not going to state something as equally hateful as “you got what you deserved.” I am not that kind of person. However, the Nazis were despicable people. I believe many of them, civilians, were unaware of the consequences in believing Hitler was their savior.

[Review] Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story from Tennessee Eagle Scout to General Montgomery’s “Flying Fortress” by Colonel Richard Ernest Evans and Barbara Evans Kinnear

Publisher and Publication Date: Kieran Publishing. July 3, 2021.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. War memoir.
Pages: 508.
Format: Large Paperback. 8×10 size.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Books Forward and Barbara Kinnear. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of war memoirs.
Rating: Excellent.

Site for the book: Richard Eager.

Twitter/ Facebook/ Instagram

A write-up about the book is located in the Knoxville Daily Sun.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Summary:

Barbara Kinnear and her late father’s debut release, Richard Eager: A Pilot’s Story from Tennessee Eagle Scouts to General Montgomery’s “Flying Fortress” (July 3, 2021, Kieran Publishing Company) showcases the humanity and personalities of war heroes in a charming biography. The family of U.S. Air Force veteran, Richard Earnest Evans, has preserved his history in a captivating new book. A detailed account of the golden age of aviation, spanning the 1930’s to the 1960’s, told through the firsthand stories of beloved son, brother and father and heroic pilot, Colonel Richard Ernest Evans.

A bet between WWII commanders. An Eagle Scout from Tennessee assigned to pilot one of the greatest leaders of the Allied Forces. This is the story of how young Captain Richard Evans became the B-17 “Flying Fortress” pilot for Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, Commander of the British 8th Army, during missions throughout North Africa and Italy.

My Thoughts:

My first thought is this book targets a specific group of readers because not all readers will want to read detailed information about flight details, the mechanics of flying, and military words. For me, I enjoy reading war memoirs. I enjoy reading a story I’ve not heard before.

Second, the book shares stories of Richard Eager as a child growing up and personal details of life as a family man. The book is not completely chronological in time. As far as his military experiences it follows chronological time, but he reminisces in whole chapters about his childhood.

Richard Eager’s personality is displayed in his writing style. He is matter of fact, determined, confident, detailed, and freely expresses himself. He has a keen sense of humor.

The story is told from Richard’s voice. He is the narrator.

This is a large paperback filled with both story, and black and white photographs of people and maps. I want to mention this because it’s a chunkster size book.

The dedication of the book (located in the opening) is memorable.

I believe this is a splendid war memoir!

[Review] No Man’s Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I by Wendy Moore

Publisher and Publication Date: Basic Books/Hachette Book Group. 2020.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. World War I.
Pages: 353.
Format: Library hardcover binding.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of the history of medicine during war time. Readers of World War I history and medical practices. Readers with an interest of female surgeons and nurses during World War I.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

(The second video is fascinating. About 13 minutes and 42 seconds in viewing length.)

My Review of No Man’s Land:

Recently I read a historical fiction story about two sisters who were in France during World War I. One of the sisters was an ambulance driver. The other sister was a nurse. That story left me wanting to know more. I wanted to understand what the nurses and surgeons who cared for the injured soldiers experienced, especially in regard to medicine and caregiving during World War I. I wanted to read a book with historical medical information and not the fluff of other things. No Man’s Land is an excellent choice!

The book begins with a group of women who are a medical team called Women’s Hospital Corps, and they have a goal of setting up a hospital in France in mid-September of 1914. The women are a mix of physicians, nurses, and orderlies. Money was quickly raised for the expense of the new group.

Upon arriving in Paris, France, they set up a hospital in the Hotel Claridge. Later, they relocated to the Chateau Mauricien. And within a couple of years, they would be established in the Endell Street Military Hospital in London, England.

No Man’s Land is several fascinating features in one volume:
1. The battles of World War I. This includes the lesser-known battles.
2. The historical facts relating to women who wanted to become a doctor. What they endured. Where they went to medical school. The strict boundary lines of who they were allowed to take care of-women and children only. The suffragist movement in London.
3. World War I changed social customs between men and women.
4. World War I made it possible for women to join the workforce.
5. The history of a one-of-a-kind hospital staffed only by women.
6. The continuing education and progressive practices of caring for injured. For example, dealing with infections, and the different types of injuries seen.
7. The German airship raids in London.
8. Shellshock.
9. Several personal stories of the soldiers. It is their testaments and not just the medical personnel that creates a heartbeat for the book.
10. The Spanish flu.

There are two female physicians who are the main characters of the book. Several other women doctors and nurses and medical staff are shared with their roles during World War I, but it is these two women who are the focus. Their names are Dr. Flora Murray and Dr. Louisa Anderson. There are brief bios on both of them at the beginning. They lived a shared life, not just as a medical team, but as life partners. The book never veers away from their work and towards their private life. What I am saying is they were dedicated to the medical field and in caring for people. I’ve read some reviews of readers who didn’t like the lesbian couple. This is ridiculous. In the book, that word is not used to refer to them. Their personal and private life in that regard is not remarked on except in stating they lived together, had two dogs, and wore rings. The emphasis of the book, and the emphasis of their lives displayed in this book, is caring for the wounded and sick soldiers during World War I. I say, God bless them.

Wendy Moore has written an excellent piece dedicated to the women who in some instances gave their lives for the care of the soldiers. If not in death, they gave up their civilian lives for the benefit of others.