photo of John Shook beside Vietnam Memorial

One Soldier by John H. Shook

Who, or what, was the real enemy in Vietnam? The ever-elusive, jungle-wise Viet Cong and their NVA allies? The oppressive heat and torrential rains? The leeches, mosquitoes, and the jungle itself? Or the army whose regulations made you carry a .45 even though the firing pin was broken? Perhaps, each in their own way, they all were… and John Shook battled them all.

In One Soldier, he recounts his experiences and describes how he faced—and overcame—all the enemies a machine-gunner encountered in the Nam. Straight-from-the-shoulder, Shook tells of search and destroy patrols and night ambushes and slogging through a rice paddy, wondering when the first shot was going to come. You’ll be at his side during bull sessions on getting a “million-dollar” wound that would mean a return to the States and in firefights that turned his M-60 machine gun from a shoulder-numbing burden into a staccato, lead-spewing lifesaver.

Most of all, One Soldier is a story of combat, written in the immediate, gut-wrenching language that men at war resort to: “A burst of automatic rifle fire rips through the hooch inches above my elevated perch. Knowing exactly where my rifle hangs I reach out for it but grasp only air and wooden wall. … The firing in both directions is heavier now. There is yelling on the bridge. It is a black night, a void of vision punctuated by muzzle flashes and the crisscrossing streaks of tracers… Is that your 16?’ I yell. ‘What the f—. Who cares?’… ‘Where was your rifle when this s— started?'”

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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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Cover showing a bombed out bridge

Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly by Margaret Bourke-White

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An excerpt from The New York Times review, December 4, 1946 by Orville Prescott.

“Miss Bourke-White is one of the most distinguished of American photographers. Before the war she was a specialist in pictures of industry. During the war as a photographer for Life she took many of the best frontline pictures which appeared in that magazine, in Russia, in Italy and in France and Germany. She traveled by jeep, by plane and on foot wherever reporters were allowed to go, which often meant where shells were exploding and bullets flying. But she did not just take pictures. Miss Bourke-White is a good reporter as well as a photographer. She talked with all manner of men and with resourceful enterprise sought out representative and significant men. The present volume includes 128 of her excellent pictures of Germany in defeat, in addition to Miss Bourke-White’s report on her investigations….

Few Uninfected With Nazism

“….Miss Bourke-White talked with hundreds of Germans. Among them she found a few, a pitiful few, who had not succumbed to the Nazi infection. Most of therm, did not admit or realize that there was any infection. They did not admit that Hitler was evil, that Germany had started the war, that they were aware of the torture and death camps, that they in any way shared responsibility for their government’s and their nation’s crimes. Many of them expected the Allies to finance Germany’s recovery, to be responsible for German employment.

“In Bremen Miss Bourke-White found an old friend, a German girl who had graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism. “Here will be somebody I can talk to,” she thought. But the intelligent, American-educated girl turned out to be an ardent defender of Nazism and all its works. “We have believed in the party principles for centuries,” she said. “Adolf Hitler never knowingly told a lie.”
More disturbing, because of their greater power and influence and because of the respectful deference with which the Allies treated some of them, were the great industrial lords of the Ruhr. Miss Bourke-White talked with many of them, the men who had made Hitler’s war machine possible and who had profited mightily in the process. And they were all just innocent business men uninterested in politics, worthy citizens who expected to continue to run their peaceable enterprises! If they are allowed to, and if the Allies do not foster a genuine democracy in Germany, the third World War will come sooner than we expect it. That is the underlying theme of ‘Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly.’ “

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 6 Female Journalists

No Woman’s World by Iris Carpenter

From The Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2021. Five Best: Woman Writing about World War II.

More than 200 female journalists were accredited to the Allied forces by the end of World War II, but it wasn’t until the final months of the war that a select few were allowed to report from the front. Writers like Iris Carpenter had found their own illicit ways to the fighting, but did so at their own peril. “No Woman’s World” is a coruscating indictment of the system against which they had to battle.

Nonetheless, it covers the struggle impressively, from the Battle of Britain on through V-E Day. The power of the book derives less from its coverage of battles than its unsentimental honesty. Carpenter records her own confused emotions on first entering Germany and having to decide how to view ordinary German citizens—as suffering victims, or the enemy, or both?

She is no less forthright in her descriptions of the American soldiers with whom she traveled—many of them poignantly young and courageous but also brutalized by years at war. Her bluntness make this memoir a riveting read.

 

From Time, Monday, Sept. 09, 1946.

When U.S. trucks and tanks hit Omaha Beach, says Iris Carpenter, drivers “cried and vomited” as they crunched over the bodies of G.I.s fallen in the first infantry waves. It was sickening and terrible, but the beachhead held firm.

Blonde, British-born Iris Carpenter, thirtyish, BBC commentator and war correspondent (London Daily Herald, Boston Globe), says that she held firm, too. Although ready to grant from the start that it was no woman’s world, she thought a “newspaper girl” had as much right to report what was happening as anyone else. Correspondent Carpenter stayed until V-E day and beyond, ended up with a new feeling of authority on military strategy, a shattered eardrum (enemy bombing) and a fiancé: Colonel Russell F. Akers Jr. of the U.S. First Army staff.

Much of No Woman’s World reads about as a woman’s war report might be expected to read: human-interest stories, hard-boiled anecdotes, Perils-of-Pauline asides. In field hospitals Correspondent Carpenter saw “the hideous mess which high-explosive makes of human flesh.” In newly liberated Paris she lived on “K rations, cognac and champagne.” On the Rhine she rushed over the newly captured Remagen Bridge while MPs shouted, “Keep ten paces between you and the next guy—it’s hot around here.”

Correspondent Carpenter also includes a critical tactical narrative of the fighting from D-day to the end. Having had access (she does not say through whom, but it is a fair guess) to First Army staff documents, she notes that First Army G-2 had the “first inkling” of Rundstedt’s Ardennes offensive weeks before it began, but that Bradley’s Twelfth Army group did not act on the information. Her conclusion: it was closer to “complete catastrophe . . . than any Allied commander would ever care to admit.”

 

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Cover of Last Flight from Singapore

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

Fighting on after the Fall of Singapore

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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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The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.