cover with photo of Diego Rivera

My Art, My Life, An Autobiography by Diego Rivera

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Diego Rivera stands among the titans of our century. A man of phenomenal energy, he not only transformed the art of his country, but helped to transform its social structure as well. In the course of his tempestuous career, he defied presidents, dictators, millionaires, and the arbiters of artistic fashion. Often forced into hiding or exile during his lifetime, he is now enshrined in the pantheon of his country. His activities brought him into personal relationships not only with the artistic and political leaders of Mexico but with the famous and powerful abroad.
Rivera revolutionized modern mural painting and was the principal figure in launching the “Mexican Renaissance,” which is now regarded as one of the great periods in the history of world art.
This was an artist who could not separate his work — always his chief devotion — from his life. Like the man himself, his autobiography is full of conflict and color: the battles which surrounded his murals in the Detroit Art Institute, Rockefeller Center, and the Hotel del Prado are recounted in detail and with fervor.
The absorbing story of this epochal man, drawn from his own words as dictated over a period of ten years to the American journalist, Gladys March, makes a book that is certain to become one of the classics of art literature. With a quality all its own, it contains something of the frankness of Benvenuto Cellini, the impassioned suffering of Van Gogh, and the social vision of Kathe Kollwitz. Illustrated with personal photographs as well as some of Diego Rivera’s greatest works, My Art, My Life will rank among the most important books of recent years.
GLADYS MARCH studied art at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Museum in New York, the Pitti Palace in Florence. the Louvre in Paris, and the Prado in Madrid. She has written columns and features on kings, movie stars, and celebrities from all walks of life. But until she met Diego Rivera in 1945, on a newspaper assignment to interview him, she had never felt the desire to write a hook about any one person. The initial interview led to a ten-year project, during which years the artist dictated his life story to her. Mrs. March’s work was checked by Diego Rivera from time to time up to a few months before his death in 1957. The finished manuscript was read and approved by Emma Hurtado Rivera, the artist’s widow.

Addams and Activists on Deck of Ship on the Way to Europe

Peace and Bread in Time of War by Jane Addams

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First published in 1922 during the “Red Scare,” by which time Jane Addams’s pacifist efforts had adversely affected her popularity as an author and social reformer, Peace and Bread in Time of War is Addams’s eighth book and the third to deal with her thoughts on pacifism.

Addams’s unyielding pacifism during the Great War drew criticism from politicians and patriots who deemed her the “most dangerous woman in America.” Even those who had embraced her ideals of social reform condemned her outspoken opposition to U.S. entry into World War I or were ambivalent about her peace platforms. Turning away from the details of the war itself, Addams relies on memory and introspection in this autobiographical portrayal of efforts to secure peace during the Great War. “I found myself so increasingly reluctant to interpret the motives of other people that at length I confined all analysis of motives to my own,” she writes. Using the narrative technique she described in The Long Road of Women’s Memory, an extended musing on the roles of memory and myth in women’s lives, Addams also recalls attacks by the press and defends her political ideals.
Source: Goodreads.

Photo of Marines crossing a creek on Guadacanal

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times, September, 1957.

“…This is an old story, but it is told in a fresh and lovely voice. Robert Leckie writes with charm, with personal humility, with humor, with a rare gift for capturing all that is human in the most inhuman of man’s activities.

He makes no bones about it—the war is what happened to him. The point of view is not the grand strategy of victory, but the immediate tactic of personal survival. By turns a boot, a machine gunner on Guadalcanal, a liberty hound in Australia, an intelligence scout on Peleliu—briefly a self-styled “brig rat” subsisting on bread and water and finally a casualty —Private Leckie fought the enlisted man’s battle.
By David Dempsey

 

From the Marine Corps Association and Foundation

Revisiting a Pacific War Classic by Lt. Col. Michael Grice

Robert Leckie’s “Helmet for My Pillow” has been my single favorite military book for over 30 years. Written from the perspective of a young participant in the great endeavor that was World War II, it is a soulful, wrenching, humorous, and insightful account of one youth’s journey into manhood via the Pacific campaigns spearheaded by the 1st Marine Division.

I first read it as a junior high school student in 1980, and I have reread it nearly every year since. It has framed my perspectives of the Marine Corps, of leadership, of enlisted service, of officers, and of combat as I have aged, matured, and risen through the ranks. Leckie doesn’t provide a technical, historical account consisting of units, maps, and strategy, but instead provides a humanistic view of the Marine Corps at war from the perspective of an often-bewildered observer caught up in the whirlwind of events.

Beginning with his rush to service after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Leckie brings the reader along as a fellow traveler on his journey to war. He presents his story through a framework of symbolism, simile, and metaphor; almost no character is identified by actual name but instead by title or attribute that the author chooses to best typify them. Generally warm to his peers (to whom have been bestowed titles such as “Hoosier,” “Chuckler,” and “Runner,” all so called because of their origins, habits, or claims to fame), he is critical of his seniors, most notably his officers. “Commando,” for example, was what we would consider an exceptionally motivated officer in the modern sense, but his Marines viewed him with suspicion and occasional terror as he attempted to utilize urban combat techniques in the dank jungles of the Pacific. “Commando sits on his brains,” says Leckie and his mates; they recognize that he is incredibly brave, but such bravery is not the only quality that a leader needs to possess in order to inspire men. He writes of officers who only venture into the lines when they hear that Leckie has somehow obtained a box of cigars; true to his status as a carefree private he ensures that they receive none.

Leckie is not uncomplimentary to all of his leaders, however, as he admiringly terms one of his lieutenants “Spearmint” because he has the lowly affectation for chewing gum. Spearmint they follow out of respect and admiration; Commando they follow because they are Marines, and Marines follow orders. The juxtaposition of leadership types and styles from the perspective of an articulate young private is an object lesson that all Marine leaders should heed, and there is no finer case study than Helmet for My Pillow.

The book should not be read only for the study in leadership, but also from the perspective of a Marine engaged in a seemingly endless conflict. Leckie speaks of timeless war where rumors of returning home rise and fall with the completion of each assault. He chronicles the chaotic creation of a newly formed division as it prepares to fight; the murderous landings and campaigns in Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu; and the adventures and misadventures of liberty in Australia.

His writing style is not the staccato regurgitation of battle lines, company positions, and enemy orders of battle, but instead it is the wrenching and visceral viewpoint of a machinegunner in a dank and slimy pit who waits in the dark for the yellow peril to blot him savagely from existence. He writes of idly watching crocodiles feast on the Japanese dead in the Tenaru River, most notably one he names “Chowhound” because the dead soldier floats in a soup of rice ripped free from his haversack when the amphibious animals savage his body. He speaks easily of the petrifying terror felt by them all when the banzai charges came, and of the following relief when the attacks are repulsed and the field of battle is thick with the corpses of slain Japanese soldiers. He writes much as Norman Mailer did in The Naked and the Dead; his story is about the military experience but is not intended to be a military book. He writes of life and love and, most intensely, of fear:

I had not looked into its foliage before the darkness and now I fancied it infested with Japanese. Everything and all the world became my enemy, and soon my very body betrayed me and became my foe . . . . I lay quivering, in that rotten hole while the darkness gathered and all creation conspired for my heart. How long? I lay for an eternity. There was no time. Time had disintegrated in that black void. There was only emptiness, and that is something; there was only being: there was only consciousness. Like the light that comes up suddenly in a darkened theatre, daylight came quickly. Dawn came, and so myself came back to myself. I could see the pale outlines of my comrades to right and left, and I marveled to see how tame my tree could be, how unforbidding could be its branches.

I know now why men light fires.

Marines of all ranks and ages should read Leckie’s memoir. It contains lessons that pertain to us all—lessons about combat, lessons about life and, most importantly, lessons about leadership. Leckie, who managed to reach the rank of private first class on several occasions, rose from bread and water in a transport’s brig to being decorated for valor while fighting the Japanese. His observations on his lot in life, his friends, and his leaders are not so dissimilar from those being made today in places like Marjeh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. I have read his work dozens of times and will reread it many times more. I learn a little more each time I read it, and it is so well written that I look forward to reading it again.

Reprinted with permission of Lt. Colonel Michael Grice.

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Fighter Moving Downward

Last Flight from Singapore with Maps and Illustrations by Arthur G. Donahue

Fighting on after the Fall of Singapore

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With the Calibre app, you and your students can read this ebook in epub format on computer screens. By changing the background color, and enlarging the font, the reading experience on a computer screen is reasonable. With Chromebooks, the device will offer a choice of ereading apps when you open the epub file.

 

As one of the storied few who defeated the Nazi Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, American Arthur G. Donahue-Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross-wished to continue his service and requested overseas duty. 

In October 1941, he was sent to the British protectorate of Singapore as a precaution against a possible threat from Japan, which was already conducting a war in China. This posting soon put him on the spot as the Japanese Army swept down the Malayan peninsula to assault the fortress island.

Within two months, all of Asia was thrown into turmoil as Japan simultaneously bombed Hawaii and invaded the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. Japanese forces swiftly conquered much of Southeast Asia and began moving toward Burma and India. Standing in the face of this onslaught was the British stronghold of Singapore. 

Donahue and his squadron began around-the-clock sorties, reminiscent of their battle against Germany a little more than one year earlier. This time, however, the British forces were overwhelmed and they were forced to surrender the city to the Japanese in February 1942, an event Winston Churchill called “the worst disaster” in British history.

During the final phase of the battle, Donahue was wounded while strafing Japanese transports unloading troops to storm Singapore. He managed to land, and was airlifted on the last flight from the city and ultimately to a hospital in India. In Last Flight from Singapore, Donahue tells his dramatic story, accompanied by photographs he took himself, of the intense and futile battle against the Japanese for control of the gateway to the Malay Peninsula. He continues his story through his convalescence to his return to England, where he once again began patrols over Europe. The manuscript for “Last Flight from Singapore” was found among his effects after he did not return from a patrol in 1942 and was presumed lost. 

From the New York Times review:
“Donahue is no literary artist and he makes no attempt either to dramatize or to underplay his experience. He tells them in a simple, unvarnished manner, much as if he were sitting down with some friends back home. The result is pretty close to what the real thing must have been. There are times when the horror and futility of the Singapore incident shine through with sickening clarity…
“Donahue was one of the expendables, one of the few who stood in the breach while the rest of us found out what was happening. He was one of the few of whom Churchill spoke when he cited the great debt of the many.”

 

Cover with Rising Sun and Bayonet

Escape from Corregidor by Edgar D. Whitcomb

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ESCAPE FROM CORREGIDOR IS “ONE OF THE MOST FANTASTIC AND INCREDIBLE TRUE STORIES TO COME OUT OF WORLD WAR II.”
(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

“One of the best of the war-escape books … the more impressive because of its simplicity.”
(San Francisco Call-Bulletin)

“. . .an incredible, fascinating account.”
(Virginia Kirkus Service)

“This strange, true adventure of World War II is both interesting reading and a tribute to the American fighting man.” (Pittsburgh Courier)

“. . .exciting, fast moving. …” (Chicago Daily Calumet)

“WORLD WAR II HAS PROVIDED US WITH MANY BIZARRE ESCAPE STORIES, BUT NONE CAN SURPASS ESCAPE FROM CORREGIDOR.”
(The Jackson Sun)

Scene of crowd marching and title of Runaway Russia

Runaway Russia: An American Woman Reports on the Russian Revolution

A “Gripping Account” —The Wall Street Journal

Florence Harper was the first American female journalist in Petrograd. Sure that trouble was coming, she waited “as I would for a circus parade.” From the women’s bread protests of the heady first days when the mob seemed “good-natured” to the later horror of the “Marseillaise”-singing crowds being mowed down by machine guns, she remained undaunted, repeatedly returning to the streets despite the dangers she courted daily. She searched the morgues so that she could do a story on the victims. ‘‘I did not wait to count the coffins. It was too harrowing,” she reports. She did watch the hated police being thrown off roofs and also ran the gantlet of the mutinous Kronstadt sailors, who she recalls “all looked like cutthroats.” Allied officers at her hotel smashed the contents of its cellars till they were “literally knee deep in everything from champagne to vodka” to prevent the mob from getting at them. The stoicism and sympathy with which she endured it all shine forth from this gripping account.
Helen Rappaport, The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2017

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Image of GIs Wading Ashore

From a Pulitzer-Prize Winning War Correspondent with Maps and a Study Guide

Read about the first year of the Korean War in “War in Korea: The Report of a Woman Combat Correspondent.”  The author, Marguerite Higgins, was the first woman to win a Pulitzer for international reporting. The book is about the battles at the start of the war as the armies moved up and down the Korean Peninsula. But Higgins is not concerned with military strategy. She writes about the lives of U.S. GIs, the Korean civilians, and how she navigated through a male dominated military who wanted to send her home.

The military historian, S.L.A. Marshall appreciated Higgins’s work: “This Maggie’s eye view of the Korean police action is downright irresistible in its candor, in its simple expression of the things which most of us feel strongly but can’t say very well, in its change of pace between the tragedy of the battlefield and the high comedy of much of human behavior in close relationship to it….Many of her word pictures are remarkable in their ability to convey much in little; where she philosophizes at all about men in battle her style is almost epigrammatic, and many of her observations have such a true ring that they deserve to be remembered and widely quoted.”

According to the Saturday Review of Literature it is “….a whale of a war story.”

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War In Korea The Report Of A Wo – Marguerite Higgins

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Book Cover with Burning Bus

Freedom Ride, Civil Rights and Non-Violent Resistance by James Peck

From the Forward by James Baldwin:
“The moral of [the Freedom Ride story is that, how­ever painful it may be for us to change, not to change will be fatal.”

From the Introduction by Lillian Smith:
“This is the vivid, detailed account of how a few people, accidentally or spontaneously, found the symbols that speak to everybody: the need to eat, the need to move—how they went at it, what they endured, how they changed within themselves. I am glad Jim Peck, who is a courageous and thoughtful participant in ideas and acts, wrote it down.”

After reading this work in manuscript. Lillian Smith wrote to James Peck: “I like your book very much. I was moved by it on certain pages, very deeply; and relived much of what I already knew about it.”

This vivid, deeply moving story, Freedom Ride, tells for the first time in book form of the nonviolent action to end segregation that was penetrating the South in the early 60s. Before its on-the-scene report of the 1961 Freedom Rides, it tells of the author’s experience with Jim Crow Bibles used in Southern courts, of segregated benches, shoe-shine stands, buses, churches, prisons, restaurants, rest rooms and waiting rooms.
It tells of a swimming pool in a New Jersey amusement park where white people could enter simply with the pur­chase of a ticket, but where blacks had to apply for membership to the “Sun & Surf Club” and wait forever. It tells of the student jail-ins, where decent citizens preferred to submit themselves to imprisonment rather than give up their “fightless fight” for humanity. And finally it tells of the now historic first Freedom Ride.
The author, James Peck, is a man whose quiet but passionate concern for human rights earned him fifty-three stitches in his head when, in Birming­ham, Alabama, he and the other Free­dom Riders tried to show that blacks and whites had the right to eat together in a bus terminal lunchroom. Here is his personal report.

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