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WWII Fiction

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Thu November 13th, 2008, 3:32 am

It'a strange thing, Misfit, but there's also something about being in a situation where you could die at any moment which gives people an sense of great "aliveness" and and that exhilaration which exists at the very edge of terror. That's why I think old soldiers, despite the horrendous experiences, often look back to the war as a time of comradeship and heightened awareness.
Also for someone like my FIL,it was a major adventure, coming as he did from the backblocks of rural NZ and a strict Presbyterian family and setting off to the other side of the world, which was a fair old eye-opener! And luckily, he never lost his dry sense of humour, which must have kept him in good stead when times were tough.
Last edited by annis on Thu November 13th, 2008, 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Thu November 13th, 2008, 10:51 am

A
ctually they must have followed in each others' footsteps- my FIL served in Greece and Italy after North Africa as well.


I think they must have. At one point my FIL was engaged to a Greek girl but she wouldn't come back to England with him so the relationship ended. He still has her letters though.
One thing my FIL did mention was the sheer stunning impact of the blinding lights and huge percussive sound of the major bombardments- I think they were just in a state of shock a lot of the time.


Mine speaks of the rum ration they were given before going into battle. He never drank his before but saved it up for afterwards when he felt there was more need. He also used to save his food ration for night time so he could eat it without seeing the weevils. He won't eat corned beef today at any price. The actual battle stuff he occasionally mentions when in his cups, I'm not going to post on the forum - too harrowing.

Whether your FIL would enjoy "Killing Rommel", I don't know. Pressfield goes to a lot of trouble to get his facts and details right, but you're always going to have your own opinion about events which you've experienced personally.


I've known him more than 30 years and I've never seen him read a war book in all that time, so I suspect he wouldn't do so. The reality was the experience and the full stop I guess. From the ordinary reader's POV though, as Misfit says, a well written novel can bring home an atmosphere of what happened and what they went through.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Postby Margaret » Fri November 14th, 2008, 9:44 pm

And WWII was the "good war." I suppose, in some sense, so was the U.S. Civil War, because it resulted in ending slavery in the U.S., but I have to wonder whether slavery might have been ended in some other way that would have had less traumatic effects (and perhaps integrated former slaves more graciously into society afterward). When I was growing up in Texas, I encountered two contradictory ideas: that the Civil War was right and justified because it freed the slaves and preserved the Union, and that Yankees could not be trusted. Kids used to play Yankees vs. Confederates on the playground, and no one wanted to be a Yankee. This was a hundred years after the war ended, and people still hadn't gotten over it.

An exceptional novel about the Civil War is Geraldine Brooks' March. Her protagonist is a loving man with abolitionist convictions (the father from Little Women) who discovers that war causes as many, or more, problems as it solves.

These "good wars" are often glorified in fiction. I'm glad writers are becoming more realistic about the nature of warfare.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Postby Margaret » Fri November 14th, 2008, 9:49 pm

He also used to save his food ration for night time so he could eat it without seeing the weevils.


My great-great-grandfather participated in a "mutiny" during the Civil War when his Confederate regiment was posted in Galveston and received substandard rations full of bugs and spoilage. There were no stories about this passed down in the family - I found out about it by reading the records preserved in the multi-volume set of reference books compiled after the war.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat November 15th, 2008, 8:34 pm

You know, I wonder how historians and novelists of the future will manage to get a picture of the lives of ordinary people without the diaries and personal letters which have been replaced by electronic blogs, mobile phone calls and emails, none of which will leave any records for future study.

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Postby Margaret » Sun November 16th, 2008, 12:42 am

Good point, Annis. Computer disks are a much more ephemeral medium than paper. It makes me feel awful to think of all the newspapers that are being scanned onto computer disks and then thrown away.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu November 27th, 2008, 2:33 am

Sue Gillmor has contributed a review of a World War II novel by Joanne Harris, Five Quarters of the Orange, for HistoricalNovels.info. It's a rather dark novel about a woman's experiences as a child in German-occupied France. Joanne Harris is also the author of Chocolat.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Alaric
Avid Reader
Location: Adelaide, Australia.
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Postby Alaric » Thu November 27th, 2008, 6:41 am

"EC2" wrote:Mine speaks of the rum ration they were given before going into battle. He never drank his before but saved it up for afterwards when he felt there was more need. He also used to save his food ration for night time so he could eat it without seeing the weevils. He won't eat corned beef today at any price. The actual battle stuff he occasionally mentions when in his cups, I'm not going to post on the forum - too harrowing.


My grandfather was much the same, and he won't eat corned beef either. Ditto for ricecakes. He was at D-Day with the British divisions, and doesn't speak much of it either. Mostly all he says about it is in the form of some advice he once gave me when I was nervous about something: "don't complain, at least you don't have to run up a beach with a bunch of Germans shooting at you." I suppose that's quite true!

Still, some good came from it. It's because of the war that he met my grandmother. :) She had just started a job as a secretary at the war office (which I believe was in France at the time) when he went into to sign some form, and then asked her out.

tsjmom
Reader

Postby tsjmom » Mon December 1st, 2008, 8:21 pm

I just finished "Skeletons at the Feast" by Chris Bohjalian. Set in 1945 in far eastern Germany (Prussia), it follows an eclectic group of people who are walking westward to escape the rampaging Russian army as it races toward Berlin.

I'm a fan of novels set in this era, but I'd have to say this is one of the best, most moving books about this time period that I've ever read. I became emotionally connected with the main characters, and I could picture the detailed and descriptive settings. Be warned, this book is extremely graphic, horrors I'd never read about before. It was a very haunting and moving read that I couldn't put down.
Last edited by tsjmom on Tue December 2nd, 2008, 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: spelling

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Tue December 2nd, 2008, 9:43 am

I have this here on audiobook to listen too at some point.
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