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.

Marines on River

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

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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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Book Cover Juarez as Young Man

Benito Juarez: Builder of a Nation by Emma Gelders Sterne (For Young Adults).

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Anyone who has traveled in Mexico asks who Benito Juárez was. His story is told on the painted walls; his statue stands in every city and in the plazas of small villages. From one end of the country to the other schools, colleges, and universities bear his name. Streets and broad boulevards are named in his honor along with the names of the other revolutionary heroes who brought the Mexican people the national independence they prize above all else. Benito Juárez lived during the crucial period in Mexico’s emergence as a democratically self-governing nation and, perhaps more than any other single individual, helped to shape its destiny. With insight, understanding, and a highly developed sense of history, Emma Gelders Sterne has told the story of Benito Juárez, from birth in an obscure Indian village through an entire lifetime of effort and achievement on behalf of his native land.

Juarez was a lawyer of Zapotec ancestry who played a decisive role in a tumultuous period in the history of Mexico. A judge, a city councilman in Oaxaca, and a governor of the State of Oaxaca, he was a liberal power during political culture wars in mid-Nineteenth Century Mexico. He was imprisoned and exiled for his political stance when conservatives reigned in Mexico City and served as Minister of Justice and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when the liberals were in power. In 1857, a revolution brought the conservatives back to power, and Juarez declared a rival government with himself as president. Ultimately, he and his side regained power. However, French forces invaded the country, and the conservatives invited the Austrian nobleman Maximilian Hapsburg to install a monarchy to replace Juarez’s government. War ensued, resulting in the Mexican army defeating the French. A turning point in the war was the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, which is celebrated today as the Cinco de Mayo in Mexico and among many Texans. The only full-blooded native to serve as President of Mexico, Juarez served five terms. He is considered a national hero in Mexico.

Juárez today:
Today’s Mexicans view Juárez much like some Americans see Abraham Lincoln: he was a firm leader when his nation needed one, who took a side in a social issue that drove his nation to war. There is a city (Ciudad Juárez) named after him, as well as countless streets, schools, businesses, etc. He is held in particularly high regard by Mexico’s considerable indigenous population, who rightly view him as a trailblazer in native rights and justice.

EMMA GELDERS STERNE, a former teacher and editor, has written more than twenty books in the past forty years, including Mary McLeod Bethune; I Have a Dream; His Was The Voice: The Life of W.E. B. Du Bois, and They Took Their Stand. The recipient of many awards over the years, she was honored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which established a children’s fund in her name.

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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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Book Cover of Last Enemy

The Last Enemy by Richard Hillary

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The classic memoir that explodes the myth of the romance of war.

Young Richard Hillary, a Spitfire pilot in the RAF, thought that flying one-on-one against Hitler’s “roster of rogues” the Luftwaffe, would be exciting, gallant, and heroic.

However, when he is shot down, horribly burned and disfigured in the Battle of Britain, he faces a different battle in which he must confront the toughest enemy of all—himself—and learn true courage and heroism.

“Hillary takes us into the clouds of his flight-and into the depths of his suffering.”—Publishers Weekly
“FEW BOOKS ARE WRITTEN SO WELL OR PACK SUCH AN EMOTIONAL WALLOP.—UPI

More Editorial Reviews

“A small masterpiece” —The New York Times

“A classic of air warfare” —Washington Post

“Admirable skill … A real writer.” —J. B. Priestly

“A war book that is destined to live … It will, I think, become a Classic.”
—from a BBC broadcast by Sir Desmond MacCarthy

“A haunting memoir of wartime courage”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“THE LAST ENEMY has been a classic in England since its publication. It deserves the same status here.” —Tulsa World

“A philosophical treatise on war which ranks with the
best.” —Montgomery Journal-Advertiser

So Big by Edna Ferber

So Big by Edna Ferber

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Winner of the 1924 Pulitzer Prize, So Big is widely regarded as Edna Ferber’s crowning achievement. A rollicking panorama of Chicago’s high and low life, this stunning novel follows the travails of gambler’s daughter Selina Peake DeJong as she struggles to maintain her dignity, her family, and her sanity in the face of monumental challenges. This is the stunning and unforgettable “novel to read and to remember” by an author who “critics of the 1920s and 1930s did not hesitate to call the greatest American woman novelist of her day” (New York Times).

So Big is a brilliant literary masterwork from one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished and admired writers, and still resonates today with its unflinching views of poverty, sexism, and the drive for success.

Cover of One of Ours

Winner of 1923 Pulitzer Prize: One of Ours by Willa Cather

Reading level from a sample of Chapters 16, 17 and 18 from the Flesch-Kincaid index in Microsoft Word is 6.0.

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“It’s December 7, and that means we’re celebrating Willa Cather’s birthday here at NYPL (New York Public Library)! Willa Cather was a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet known for her descriptions of life on the American frontier and the immigrant experience. One of the foremost American female writers of the 20th century, Cather penned several novels from the 1910s through the 1930s that were highly popular in their time and are widely read today. They include O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. She died in New York City in 1947, and today is her 143rd birthday.

“If you’ve never been introduced to Cather’s work, or you somehow managed to skip reading her in high school English, then you’re missing out on some truly gorgeous prose, vivid imagery, and moving, mature stories about plains living.

One of Ours
“This book, which is about the journey of Nebraskan Claude Wheeler from unhappy farmer to proud soldier in World War I, won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1923. One of Ours was criticized by many prominent authors, including Ernest Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis, for its heroic and rosy depiction of war, but the American public disagreed, and it became one of the bestselling books of that year.”

Source: Where to Start with Willa Cather by Nicholas Parker at https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/11/30/willa-cather

Reviews on Amazon:

1. “Oh, so poignant! Willa Cather’s genius for capturing the American ethos of a century past shines radiantly in this unusual look at the son of a farm family coming of age as the nation hesitantly inches toward the Great War. Achingly sensitive to relationships of all kinds, Cather’s novel ponders delicate aspects of friendship, marriage, love, family, son-ship, and community. Never pedantic, never unoriginal, and full of subtle insight, this engaging but lesser known novel may particularly interest young people.”

2. “This is a beautifully written book with a strong sense of place and time – prairie life prior to WWI, and then the main character’s participation in the war. In that sense, it is almost two books, with the earlier part being the stronger. The main character is a depressed kind of young man, who questions the meanings of things, and this may not appeal to everyone, although it is vividly portrayed by the author. Her lyrical and often poetic language give the book and the character’s experiences a universality.”

3. “This woman could put into words not only glorious descriptions, relating to the minutiae of life and loves in the Midwestern farming community, but also every individual’s feelings. We are there, we are at the kitchen table, we are immersed in the horrors of Flanders and its vermin infested trenches. We live the life and emotions of Claude Wheeler, and at last, in the final moments, we know that he truly chose his destiny.”

Launching Plane at Kitty Hawk

here

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With Calibre, 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. On Chromebooks, the operating system will offer an ereading app when you open the epub file.

 

In this fascinating, highly readable biography, Fred C. Kelly, a former newspaperman, author, and an old friend of the Wrights, tells the story of the two brilliant, dedicated, flight-obsessed bicycle mechanics from Ohio who first realized mankind’s age-old dream of conquering the skies.

Long considered the definitive Wright biography (the manuscript was read and approved by Orville Wright), this book recounts the Wrights’ small-town boyhood, their early interest in all things mechanical, the establishment of the Wright Cycle Shop, and the complete behind-the-scenes story of how they designed, built, tested, and flew (December 1903) the first “Flyer.”

Enhanced with sixteen rare photographs, Mr. Kelly’s engaging account avoids minute technical description, yet describes simply and clearly the technological innovations that enabled the two brothers to succeed where so many others had failed. Anyone interested in the mechanics of flight or early aviation will find this volume a splendid introduction to the Wright brothers and their epochal achievement.

Grade level from a sample of four chapters in the Flesch-Kincaid analysis is 10.3.

Man and a Horse on Book Cover

The Underdogs, a Story of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela

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“The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution” is Mariano Azuela’s fictional account of the Mexican Revolution. Originally published as a newspaper serial in 1915, then as a complete novel in 1920, it was first translated into English in 1929 and was a critical and financial success. Based closely on Azuela’s own experiences, it is the story of Demetrio Macias, a peasant who is mistreated by government soldiers and must flee his home. He runs to the mountains and forms a group of revolutionaries to help overthrow the corrupt dictator, Porfirio Diaz. Macias and his comrades are a motley group of outcasts who are often unsure of what precisely they are fighting for and are sometimes no better than the cruel government they are rebelling against. Rather than a simple struggle of honorable peasants against an unjust government, Azuela’s tale is sophisticated and nuanced and captures in stunning detail the lives of the poor, the passion of the revolutionaries, and the heartbreaking disillusionment they must often face. In Azuela’s depiction of Demetrio Macias, he captures the complicated spirit of the Mexican people and his masterful telling of this conflict between the rebels and the federales helped to establish him as one of Mexico’s preeminent novelists.

The novel seems to offer a number of opportunities for writing responses. Compare the Mexico of Demetrio Macias with the Mexico or the United States of today. How is power or wealth allocated in societies? etc.

Marines on Patrol

U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Small Unit Action 1966 by Captain Francis J. “Bing” West Jr.

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Grade Level from the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score is 6.2.

The battle scenes are dramatic but are too graphic for middle school readers in our opinion.

And the text of the book is much easier reading than the blurb below:

Vietnam, summer 1966. On a steep mountainside 20 miles inland, a reconnaissance platoon of 18 men holds off hundreds of enemy soldiers for over 12 hours. In a four-day scouting mission near the demilitarized zone, a small patrol ambushes and destroys a Viet Cong base camp. This was the action behind the headlines in Vietnam.

From routine night raids to full-scale assaults, Small Unit Action in Vietnam presents a compelling perspective on the courage, dedication and patriotic enthusiasm of U.S. Marines in the early stages of the war.

Originally published as a strategic training manual, this remarkable and moving document is an authentic eyewitness account of nine separate actions at the company and battalion level. Most books look at the broad picture of the war. Small Unit Action in Vietnam sharpens the focus to show the individual battles as they were actually fought. Captain West’s book describes with taut precision the lightning judgments, tactical decisions and moments of bravery of individual soldiers fighting a deadly enemy in an overwhelmingly hostile environment.

Through his vivid descriptions—of the rugged terrain, the movements of the units, the use of support troops and artillery, the ruses and psychological ploys so crucial in defeating a brilliant, determined and resourceful foe—we experience with stunning clarity the challenges of combat on the front.