July was a nutty month. Lots of music: Phish three times, Warren Haynes at Tanglewood, Dead and Company twice, and Coldplay. (August is only Pearl Jam and Mieka Pauley.) We made it up to Monhegan for a week and down to CT twice. And! And. And, I moved a lot of rocks (don’t ask). For the books it was:
- Milk in my Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
- Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (AB)
- The Last Battle by Ryan Cornelius
- Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
- 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames
I think, once I got used to Dickey’s style, I grew to like Milk but my favorite by far was The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. Is it a movie? Because if it isn’t, it should be. I said that in the review as well.
Full disclosure: I had Lost Upland on my list as well. I simply ran out of time and couldn’t get to it. I’m okay with seven books for the month.
Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1966.
Reason read: to finished the series started in honor of D-Day. To be fair, this wasn’t part of a “series” but it made sense to read next since historically, the last battle came after the events in A Bridge Too Far.
I’ve said this before, but one of the best things about reading a Cornelius Ryan book is that it is never ever boring. His books read like a movie (as been said before by many reviewers), complete with characters you root for and villains you love to hate. The very first people you meet in The Last Battle are Richard Poganowska, a 39 year old milk man and Carl Johann Wiberg, “a man more German than Germany” who happens to be an Allied spy. Ryan introduces you to the lesser known elements of war – passionate people who try to save entire orchestras and animals from a war demolished zoo. As an aside, it was heartbreaking to meet Schwartz and his beloved Abu Markub. I’m glad Ryan circled back to their story at the end.
And speaking of the end, this truly is a depiction of the last battles fought in World War II. Ryan circles all the players, leaving no one out: the defenders, the attackers and of course, the civilians. The race to conquer Berlin and the subsequent divvying up of Germany was fascinating.
As an aside, someone went through The Last Battle and sadly, marked it up with a RED pen. How annoying.
Quote that stopped me, “How do you tell sixty nuns and lay sisters that they are in danger of being raped?” (p 26). That was the reality of German Berliners if the Russians took over their city.
Book trivia: The Last Battle is chock full of interesting photographs, including one of the author with one of his subjects.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter (for obvious reasons) called “World War II Nonfiction” (p 254).
July. Summertime. Lots of music (starting with you guessed it, Phish). Lots of running (hopefully all outdoors). Lots of travel, lots of play. Plenty of reading:
- Milk in My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey (in honor of National Cow Appreciation Day on the 14th. I kid you not.)
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (#3 – to continue the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day)
- The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan (#3 – to continue the series started in June for D-Day)
- Cranford (AB) by Elizabeth Gaskell (in honor of Swan Upping. If you don’t know about this day, check it out. It’s fascinating. Or you can wait for my review when I’ll explain the practice.)
- Black Faces, White Faces by Jane Gardam (in honor of Gardam’s birth month)
As an aside, I have read the last two Cotterills in a day each, so I know I need to add at least one or two more books to the list. I’m off to the great unknown for vacation so when I get back I’ll probably have to revisit this list.
Also, I should note that I won another Early Review book from LibraryThing, but since its not here yet I won’t promise to read it. 😉
June was an interesting month. Ran 43.5 miles. But, for the reading it was full of short stories and quick reads. Finished:
- The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
- Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
- Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
- Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes
- A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (AB)
- A Death in the Family by James Agee
- Edge of Time by Loula Grace Erdman – probably my favorite
- “A perfect Day for a Bananafish” by JD Salinger
- “For Esme – with Love and Squalor” by JD Salinger
- “The Orphan” by Nell Freudenberger
- “Outside the Eastern Gates” by Nell Freudenberger
- “Four Calling Brids, Three French Hens” by Lorrie Moore
- “People Like That Are the Only People Here” by Lorrie Moore
- “Mr Squishy” by David Foster Wallace
- “The Suffering Channel” by David Foster Wallace
- “Blight” by David Bezmozgis
- “Hot Ice” by David Bezmozgis
For fun I read two books related to running:
- Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Marathoners by Dr. Philip Striano
- Rocket Fuel by Matthew Kadrey, MD
And for the Early Review program with LibraryThing, another book about running:
- Off the Beaten Trail by Meghan Hicks and Bryon Powell
Ryan, Cornelius. <em>A Bridge Too Far</em>. New York: Popular Library, 1974.
Reason read: D-Day. Need I say more?
Like The Longest Day before it, A Bridge Too Far reads like a novel at times. It isn’t a dry regurgitation of names, dates, places and statistics. Like The Longest Day the reader gets to know key players in a personal, almost intimate manner. They become more than names of historical significance. The violent battles become real with the ugly sights and sounds of war. This is largely in part due to Ryan’s first hand interviews with witnesses: the veterans and townspeople alike; anyone right in the thick of the action. What sets Ryan’s books apart is that he was given exclusive access to documents that others had only heard about. The confirms and clarifies the history books.
A Bridge Too Far details the failed Market-Garden Operation. Their mission was to seize five major bridges in Belgium, France and Germany. Market was the “from air” attack and Garden was the ground portion of the offensive. After many weather related delays the operation lasted from September 17th to the 24th, 1944. This imaginative battle plan was supposed to be the Allied answer to end the war. Only it didn’t turn out that way.
As an aside, it’s easy to see how Ryan’s books all transitioned easily to the big screen.
Author fact: Ryan became a U.S. citizen when he was 31 years old.
Book trivia: the dedication says it all, “For them all.”
As an aside, while I was working on this blog it dawned on me (after three or four edits) that I had titled it “A Bridget Too Far.”
BookLust Twist: from <em>Book Lust</em> in the obvious chapter “World War II: Nonfiction” (p 254).
PS ~ I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that I couldn’t bear the end. If you know your history, you know how it goes.