I’m currently reading 3 books…
The first is.. ’12 Years Slave,’ by Solomon Northup. Yes, of course, we’ve probably all seen the movie, but the book is beautifully and eloquently written and Solomon’s fine command of the English language and his dignified narration lend more to his horrifically sad tale, than just watching the movie. He is an understated hero whose insight into the human psyche is honest and fair. The books makes him a far more 3-d character than the movie portrays.
The second book is Stephen Clarke’s hilarious re-writing of European History… the way it REALLY happened. Clarke gives the English version of famous historical events and he out-rightly contradicts the known version..the French version.
For example; The famous Battle of Hastings in England in the year 1066. The french say William The Conquerer was a Fenchman. Clarke says “NON!” then traces William family tree back to the Norsemen or Vikings, from Northern Europe who raided the country of France in 911 and took over a part of it so that it came to be called Normandy. These Normans never considered themselves to be French at all.
Joan of Arc, the patron saint of soldiers in France..this poor, misguided girl was burned at the stake by the English,yes. But only after her French countrymen condemned her to death for dressing like a man, caught her an sold her to the English for 10,000 livres!
Clarke continues to openly destroy long held beliefs we all had about other famous ‘French’ inventions like the Guillotine, [invented in England], the croissant, the baguette, [invented in Austria].
Clarke also sums up the long-standing, centuries-old animosity between the nations of France and England by quoting a British writer…’The Best thing I know between France and England is the sea.”
I love reading history when its humorous, witty and ‘accurate’.
The third book I’m reading is “The Monuments Men.” Yes, another history book and a book brought to my attention because of the movie..It’s fascinating. Had YOU ever given consideration to the innumerable and priceless works of art kept safely in museums around the world? How did they survive two world wars? Some didn’t.
When Hitler decided to make a grab for the world he planned to build a massive museum dedicated to himself. He set in order a grand plan to take, steal and own all the art treasures in Europe. Treasures like Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’, Michaelangeo’s ‘David’, the Bayeux Tapestry.. the list is endless.
A group of dedicated art specialists from the allied nations came together to counteract Hitler’s plan by going ahead of him into occupied territory and saving the buildings and art works . there were 350 men and women from 13 nations who banded together to do this.
The book “The Monuments Men” by Robert Edsel focuses on 6 of these men, sent into Northern France, Germany and Austria. What they did was astounding and they are the main reason why you and I can walk through the Louvre today and admire whatever is in there. The movie of the same name, traces their story.
But it isn’t over…some googling I did recently showed that new ‘monuments men’ are still hard at work in the year 2014. Still following leads and still tracing lots pieces of Art and getting them back to their rightful owners, or descendants.
The story is an eye opener and one we never learned about in school and yet, it was such a major part of the world wars.
I feel I have to read this book especially in order to fill a huge gap left in my education by the school system. It was such a vital thing to know, as Hitler hoped to wiped out whole nations and generations by taking away their land, language, culture and existence.
I highly recommend you read all the above books …or at least…see the movies… education is a wonderful thing…