The Home Front: Life in America During World War II

The Home Front: Life in America During World War IIThe Home Front: Life in America During World War II by Audible Original
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I should clarify, it isn’t really a book, more like a documentary in an audiobook format, or a radio serial from the 1940s. I don’t think they even have a text copy of this.

It takes a view on the American home front before and during World War II. It goes over the issues that the American civilians went through from the growing issues in Europe, through the war itself. It utilizes Martin Sheen as a narrator of the situation, but you get to hear the actual radio broadcasts from the government and civilians.

You get a view on the civilians themselves and it is rather eye opening. I always knew things weren’t so patriotic on the home front (or even in the military). While there are a lot of great things we talk about that generation, there were also major problems as well, and you hear it from the people’s own voices.

FDR had a thing where people would broadcast questions or opinions to him on the radio and he would sometimes respond (but usually not, too many people). There are a lot of people professing what we attribute to the greatest generation, a lot of caring people who were going to do what they needed to do.

I wasn’t surprised at the negative people though. I knew that there were a lot of racists people, a lot of antisemitic people, and it was a bit discouraging to hear them talk. They sounded a lot like the alt-right in current days.

I think the most surprising thing was hearing how the people drafted in World War II were very reluctant to go. It sounded like most were going to go anyways, but there wasn’t nearly the wave of volunteers that our mythic popular culture says. This isn’t a bad thing, and it actually reassures me that we aren’t much different.

I definitely enjoyed this book. I recommend others to listen.

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Man in the High Castle (Season 2)

Still can’t do better than the Nazis, mysterious films, alternate worlds and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.

It’s the next season of the same world. We pick up almost immediately where we left off, having met the Man in the High Castle, the Nazi conspiracy and the drive to make a H-Bomb by the Japanese.

I can’t talk very much about the plot itself if you haven’t seen it. It does ratchet up the intrigue, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. There is more of a focus inside New York (the Reich) and Mr. Tagomi opens up a totally new storyline that comes together at the end of the season.

It humanizes all the main characters, including  Obergruppenführer John Smith, and Inspector Kids. It doesn’t make what they do ok, so no apologism for their behavior, but it does show you why they do the things they do. Like all people, even villains, they are the hero of their own story.

This season was a little different, I found I didn’t like Juliana or Fink as much. Not acting or the writing. They were great, but their storylines took them into places I didn’t like and their character’s twists and turns made me not like the characters themselves as much.

Pros: Once again, great acting, immersive sets, an compelling story and I love Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Mr. Tagomi. I liked him last season, but he clicked with me a lot (well so did John Smith, but Mr. Tagomi took it away).

 Cons: Once again, I don’t think there is an overall con, but because there are so many roles you will probably hate someone… I still can’t stand Joe Blake, not the fault of the actor, he is good, just don’t like the character, this season he whines an awful lot and I just can’t stand it.

Hands down a great show, I still can’t recommend it more.

 

Man in the High Castle (Season 1)

Nazis, alternate universe, resistance and a mysterious films showing alternate worlds, of course its great.

The world is different, the Axis powers won and split up America. The Japanese took the western third, the Nazis took the eastern half leaving a small strip in the middle that was a neutral zone. There are main characters in the resistance, in the Nazis and in the Japanese occupying force (and Trade Minister).

I don’t want to spoil it, but all the acting is really good. Their are two main Nazi characters, both very good at their roles, one who questions what he is doing and one who is a loyal higher up officer who does his duty but has to protect his family. There is a Japanese inspector and a Trade Minister both excellent with varying views, then of course there is a grouping of Resistance actors who are all great with various outlooks.

Its not set in World War II, its 20 years after and you get to deal with the politics of the two empires posturing over what is left of America with the threat of war (and surprisingly enough the only reason there is peace is because Hitler is still alive). There is a character in here that you will like no matter your outlook.

Pros: Great acting, immersive sets, an compelling story.

 Cons: I don’t think there is an overall con, but because there are so many roles you will probably hate someone… personally I can’t stand Joe Blake, not the fault of the actor, he is good, just don’t like the character.

Hands down a great show, can’t recommend it more.

 

Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing FieldsHitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THIS IS FOR THE AUDIBLE VERSION!!!

There really isn’t much of a spoiler for this book. It covers how Nazi women followed the men into the eastern front of World War II and engaged in mass murder. Wendy Lower does a great job of giving examples of women who were married to SS officers, nurses, and even receptionists who not only participated tangentially by guarding camps, but also handled the orders for the final solution and even gave direct orders to murder Jews specifically.

The good thing about the book is that it doesn’t present this in a vacuum by just talking about the women. Ms. Lower goes into detail on the culture and politics of the Third Reich at the time. The expectations of women, and in some cases how the women went against certain expectations.

Some of the specific stories are not of the faint of heart. These just aren’t only angels of “mercy” who put patients who were Jewish, handicapped or outspoken and went contrary to the cultural norms to death with lethal injections. Some of the stories include women shooting, strangling or even in one recorded case picking a child up and bashing their head into a wall.

The book isn’t about shock writing though, things are handled a lot better than that last paragraph :). I recommend it as a good reading for the an unusual aspect of the Final Solution and the massacre of not just Jews but the rest of the unwanted in the Third Reich (including German soldiers themselves considered too injured or too damaged by PTSD).

The only con I have found is the lack of specific sources. This very well could be because it is an audible book and you can’t just footnote and refer to the back of the book. I have not seen her written version so I can’t talk about it. I can say enough of what she says matches up with what I have studied in the past makes me think at least in the broad strokes I can rely on her writing.

Horrible subject, but good writing.

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