Category Archives: Politics & Other Uncomfortable Issues
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
~From “Paul Revere’s Ride,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Why do we read historic fiction, especially from troubled eras? Why do we subject ourselves to a fragile examination of our darkest hours? I really think that reading novels, associating with characters and with their stories, builds empathy and understanding in ways that reading about death statistics or accounts of battles simply cannot. This is one reason why I love Susan Elia MacNeal’s His Majesty’s Hope – Book 3 in the Maggie Hope series. Ms. MacNeal drew me into the heads and hearts of her characters. I felt the panicky sweat trickling down my back as I adventured with Maggie into Nazi Germany. I shared the sickening in my stomach when a new character, Elise Hess – a German nurse – realized what was really happening to her young disabled patients when they were bused off for “special treatments.” I actually bit my fingernails when the enemy pilot and the displaced Jewish doctor were packed away into a high-ranking Nazi’s attic, to hide under the Germans’ own noses.
But in His Majesty’s Hope, MacNeal takes her readers a step past the obvious horrors of World War II. In addition to the horrific plight of the Jews, and Hitler’s cleansing of anyone he doesn’t deem hale and hearty and Aryan, we see that England and the US are far from guiltless in the geo-political machinations of this war.
MacNeal’s writing takes on the morés of that era as well as our own, especially in regards to the consideration and treatment of homosexuals. She doesn’t shy away from showing humanity at its most flawed. There is love and desperation all through this story, and I adored every moment of it, even as I sat on the edge of my seat, worried for the characters who had become real to me. I remain incredibly impressed at the level of scholarship that Ms. MacNeal puts into her work in writing her historical novels, and learned quite a few things in reading her notes and resources at the end.
I didn’t sleep well on the night after I finished His Majesty’s Hope. The things that this war does to the characters, on a psychological level, were sometimes painful to experience, even vicariously. This is what a good book does, though. It makes you think. It makes you feel. In the case of this historical novel, it brings home the kind of ill-will that can supplant the spirit when people have to do things they would never do were they not at war. It makes you realize that hatred and action against other people – regardless of which side you fall down on – takes away a measure of your own soul. Thank goodness for the witty banter, the way Ms. MacNeal immersed me into the music, dance and fashion of the era, and the dry wit and humor that I have come to love in Maggie and her cohort. Throughout the novel, there is always the quintessential element that redeems her characters and, by extension us – her readers: the element of hope.
Just a thought for those of you who need some reminding:
Harriet Beecher Stowe, born in 1811, was an educated woman in a time when women didn’t generally seek or were allowed into institutions of higher education. She was an author of a book that, once published, has never gone out of publication. (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) More importantly, she and her family were abolitionists. Her work of fiction, which allowed countless readers in America to begin to empathize with the plight of slaves and their families, captured a nation’s, as well as a president’s, attention.So whatever it is that you strive for, if you feel it is important, and if you feel you have the voice to lift it up, remember the words of Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”~Thanks!
I love words. I really do. I’ve actually considered going back to graduate school (again?) just to learn more about etymology. I was always a wiz-bang student when it came to suffixes/prefixes & roots.
So for some reason today, I was amused but also disheartened to see this little feature on Yahoo, in regards to today’s inauguration: People Can’t Spell the Word “Inauguration.”
AND I started to think about the word “inauguration,” and wondered if people had any idea what its root word even means: augury, which, strangely, is the art of predicting the future by means of interpreting animal entrails. NO LIE. The word augury is much prettier when defined at Dictionary.com = divination, omen, token, indication. Dictionary.com goes on to say that the history of the word is French, and means “divination from the flight of birds . . . soothsaying, sorcery, enchantment.”
I like Google. I like Google’s commemorative doodles. However, I don’t really understand why Google didn’t commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor last year (in 2011). They didn’t commemorate it this year either.
We’re friends with Japan now, and have been for a long time. Perhaps Google doesn’t want to offend them, and I understand that. However, I would like to point out that when I visited and was humbled by the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu last month, there were actually just as many Japanese tourists taking it all in as there were Americans. They were as solemn as any of the American tourists, and respectful.
It was impressive how thoughtful and considerate the documentarians who made the opening video, granting an overview of the events leading up to December 7, 1941, were in explaining how this memorial is not supposed to be an indictment of any one nation or that nation’s people. Instead it is to confirm how everyday people get caught up in geo-political struggles that result in war and change us, change humanity, forever – to give us the smallest glimpse into the realities of war plans, the unreliability of radar intelligence at that time, and the heroism of those sailors and civilians who did their best in a situation of unexpected horror.
So, I will not Pearl Harbor. I will not forget December 7, 1941, in our nation’s history. Most especially, I will not forget the Greatest Generation: the generation of my uncles and, though they are a bit younger, my parents. I will not forget the cataclysmic incident that launched our nation into the second World War. I can only hope that we may never see anything like this in our history ever again.
Welcome to December, my friends.
A month of both solemnity and joy. On a secular note, I’m pretty much finished my Christmas shopping, gotten the outdoor decorations up (although not the tree yet; my little helper is feeling sick this evening) and already nearly downed an entire port wine cheese ball on my own. On a spiritual note, I have to remember to clear my heart and mind to remember the true joy of the season. I like Advent. I really do. A couple of years ago I had a whole Facebook album dedicated to pictures of nativity scenes/creches, that I’d asked my friends to send me to share.
I love the holidays. Though I celebrate the Christian one, I’m so excited that this is also a month of great light and great joy for those of other faiths, as well. So get ready for all the glorious, winter-brightening celebrations, folks . . . ’cause here they come!
An election where I just can’t side with either candidate . . .
Random House and Penguin merge and DON’T call themselves “Random Penguin” despite the awesomeness of such a name . . .
A Frankenstorm hits the entire eastern seaboard . . .
And now, Mickey Mouse becomes a Jedi knight? . . .
The Mayan Apocalypse might JUST be coming, after all.
In all serious this Halloween season, consider using your blood & bone for good and not for evil.
All blood types are desperately needed, as are all ethnicities for marrow donation.
Marrow donation has actually gotten a lot easier and less painful than in the past. “The majority of donations do not involve surgery. Today, the patient’s doctor most often requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical. The second way of donating is marrow donation, which is a surgical procedure. In each case, donors typically go home the same day they donate.”
Most of the time you can sign up to be on the national marrow donor registry at the same place you give blood.
~Thanks for your consideration!