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November CultureCAT: Conflict and war (including terrorism)

2017 Category Challenge

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Oct 21, 2017, 4:41am Top

Such a huge topic! I'm not quite sure where to start. Unfortunately, the world is currently full of conflicts, war and terrorism. And we have quite a history to choose from as well.

I'll throw out a few ideas of great books I've read that touch on these subjects - I know you will have many more ideas to contribute! As I looked at my library, it has shown me I have so much more I need to read!

From a non-fiction perspective, I thought the following WWII books very well done:

Berlin at War by Roger Moorhouse Describing WWII from a different perspective - what it was like in Berlin at the time. Really interesting.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
Don't let this tome scare you off! It's not dry at all and I found it to be a relatively quick read. Shirer was there and the way he describes how everything unfolded is mesmerizing!

A Train of Powder by Rebecca West - The book includes three articles West wrote on the Nuremberg Trials.

I have a lot more non-fiction on the shelves to read - I'll admit to reading more fiction than non! For this challenge, I'm considering The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II and A Fury for God.

WWII fiction:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Both of these books are considered YA; both very well done.

Good Evening Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes
Short stories written during WWII.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard

Spies by Michael Frayn

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

WWI fiction:

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

Graphic novels:

Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

World War Z by Max Brooks

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Alternate history short stories:

Hitler Victorious edited by Martin Greenberg

Please share what you'll be reading for this topic and don't forget to update the Wiki!

Edited: Oct 21, 2017, 6:43am Top

Edited: Oct 21, 2017, 7:10am Top

I'll heartily second Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - very well written. Dispatches would be great for this - or I could finish Safe Area Gorazde. Or The Man in the High Castle - then I might finally watch the series.

Oct 21, 2017, 8:56am Top

Maybe I'll use this as the kick in the pants I need to FINALLY read The Ultra Secret, by F.W. Winterbotham -- I put it in the on-deck pile ages ago but have never quite managed to get around to reading it.

Oct 21, 2017, 9:23am Top

Earlier this year for the CATWoman Journalism category I read On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin which was a 5 star read for me and very apt for this month's CultureCAT too if anyone's wanting a contemporary take on conflict (Marie was killed in 2012 while reporting in Syria). It was an amazing book, highly recommended.

I'm planning a rare-ish (for me) foray into fiction for this month, I'm going to read The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway.

Oct 21, 2017, 9:33am Top

My online bookclub will be reading The Jurgurthine War by Sallust in November, so that's a definite. Do you think I could also count The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, which is one possibility for the AlphaKIT? It's about female spies in WWI.

Oct 21, 2017, 9:37am Top

While I have plenty of suitable books on my tbr, Berlin at War looks really interesting.

Oct 21, 2017, 9:52am Top

>6 Robertgreaves: The Alice Network sounds good to me! Two of the books that I listed above are related to espionage during wartime - Code Name Verity about young female pilots and spies during WWII and Spies by Michael Frayn, about some kids in wartime Britain who get involved in some spying.

Oct 21, 2017, 10:58am Top

I am planning on reading War Story by Derek Robinson which is set in WW I. For the terrorism aspect of this theme, I am planning on reading Incendiary by Chris Cleave.

Oct 21, 2017, 11:03am Top

I also have SO many books to choose from, and you guys have even made me think about re-reads... >2 Kristelh: & >5 Jackie_K:, Return of the Soldier and The Cellist of Sarajevo are some of my favorites....

So, ultimately, I may read more than two books for this theme, but I'm going to aim for at least one nonfiction--The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II--and one piece of fiction which I've been meaning to read for some time, Flight of the Intruder.

Oct 21, 2017, 12:07pm Top

I also have lots on my tbr to choose from for this. I also usually read a war book in November for Remembrance Day (here in Canada).

Some of my options:
The Last Battle / Stephen Harding
The Headmaster's Wager / Vincent Lam
In the Garden of Beasts / Erik Larson
Bloodlands / Timothy Snyder
Dawn Elie Wiesel

Most likely will be the first one.

Oct 22, 2017, 11:24am Top

I've been meaning to read At the Heart of the White Rose, about a small and short-lived resistance in Munich to the Nazis and this month's theme will do nicely as the reason.

Oct 31, 2017, 6:29pm Top

In case anyone is still browsing around for books, I have to drop in to offer a recommendation...

I just finished Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Overseas Harm America and the World by David Vine, and couldn't have been more impressed. It's a smooth read, serious and difficult as the subject-matter is, and absolutely worthwhile. I've written a full review if you're interested in checking it out...

Edited: Oct 31, 2017, 8:44pm Top

I'm planning to read Carry On by Coningsby Dawson and The Wars by Timothy Findley.

Nov 3, 2017, 10:45pm Top

I have completed Incendiary by Chris Cleave. This book really absorbed me. It's a book that makes you think and leaves you feeling a little uneasy, but I thought the author did a brilliant job with his material.

Nov 6, 2017, 6:01pm Top

COMPLETED The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My review:
In 1947 Charlie is looking for her cousin who disappeared in France during WWII. She is helped by Eve Gardiner, whose demons stem from her time as a spy in WWI, and Finn Kilgore. Chapters alternate between Charlie in 1947 and Eve in 1915.

Very good exploration of war and its cost and aftermath even for the victors.

Nov 7, 2017, 9:49pm Top

I finished Carry On, a collection of letters by Coningsby Dawson, written to his family while he served with the Canadian Army in France in WWI. Despite the descriptions of the horrors of war, I found the collection quite enjoyable to read. Dawson has a keen eye for detail, a very positive attitude, and clearly a great affection for his family.

Nov 8, 2017, 1:15pm Top

I'm reading Lilac girls by Martha Kelly. (WWII)

I highly recommend -
The book thief
Between shades of gray

All mentioned above.

Nov 9, 2017, 3:50am Top

I have just finished Silesian Station, the second book in David Downing's John Russell series. This volume takes leads into WWII. John is recruited into spy work, espionage and secretly saving Jews.

Nov 10, 2017, 6:26am Top

And I have finished Vor dem Sturm, all 924 pages of it. This was a re-read of Fontane's first novel, last opened in 1988, and now that I am older I appreciate his leisurely pace much more.
It is the winter of 1812, Napoleon is back in Paris, but the remnants of his army trudge across Prussia, and everywhere people are eager for the king to break the imposed alliance and to allow them to chase the invaders out, who include quite a few Germans impressed into the French army. The tone and the style are very much like those of his travel books, full of anecdotes and conversation.

Nov 10, 2017, 12:50pm Top

I finished Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, which is largely set during WWII in the Brooklyn Naval Yards. It fits the theme nicely.

Nov 10, 2017, 2:01pm Top

The Last Battle / Stephen Harding
3.5 stars

There is a castle in Austria called Schloss Itter. During WWII, there were French VIPs (mostly politicians) who were kept prisoner in Schloss Itter; needless to say, it was a fairly comfortable place to be kept prisoner during the war. When the war was over, though, they needed to be rescued. So, after the war had officially ended, American soldiers came together with a few German soldiers to get the French VIPs out, but there was a battle at the castle before they were able to leave.

This is a story from WWII that I knew nothing about. (Even for all I’ve read, I’m sure there are plenty of lesser-known stories.) It was interesting. In addition to information about the war, the castle, and the battle itself at the castle, there was biographical information about the prisoners, as well as the soldiers who worked together to help out (although, there were a lot of people, so it was still a bit tricky to recall who was who!). I also enjoy biographies, so those parts were some of the most interesting to me in this book, in addition to the battle itself. As a Canadian, I found Rene Levesque’s “cameo” in the book (he appeared later as a journalist) interesting. For the most part, I liked the way this book was written. There were a few dry parts, but mostly I enjoyed it.

Nov 10, 2017, 9:03pm Top

I'll count Revolution: The History of England from the Battle of the Boyne to the Battle of Waterloo, by Peter Ackroyd, for this challenge. I didn't quite get to the Battle of Waterloo, because I couldn't renew the book and had too many other books out, but I did at least get up to the end of the 1700s.

Nov 11, 2017, 10:52am Top

For my bookclub, I just read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Although it is not about war, it contains a lot of conflict -- the inhabitants of the new world versus the Indians living in New Mexico. Two characters do not fit into either the new world nor the Indian society, a new world woman who got pregnant and was left in New Mexico and her son. The Indians are constantly referred to as savages.

Nov 11, 2017, 4:34pm Top

I finished up Flight of the Intruder and really enjoyed it--I'm looking forward to reading more in the series. Full review written!

Nov 12, 2017, 12:56am Top

I've just finished a book set in the Trojan War, For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser. It was an excellent read, telling the story from the perspective of two relatively unknown characters from the Iliad.

Edited: Nov 21, 2017, 8:18am Top

I read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I don't think the Touchstones are working this morning.

Nov 20, 2017, 12:02pm Top

After starting this month's RandomCAT book I realised it also fitted well in this month's CultureCAT theme. Mark Thomas' Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun sees him walking the length of the separation barrier, on both sides, Israeli and Palestine, seeing the everyday impact of the wall and the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well worth a read. He is a comedian and activist and I was lucky enough to see his show the year he was doing his "Walking the Wall" tour. If you ever get the chance to see him, do go, he's hilarious.

Nov 20, 2017, 2:14pm Top

Lots of good reading going on! I'm enjoying everyone's comments and have taken some book bullets, of course!

I'm just getting into Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism, which I forgot I had and appeals to me more at the moment than the other ones I was considering. Interesting so far!

Nov 24, 2017, 1:46pm Top

I just completed War Story by Derek Robinson a novel about British WW I pilots filled with dark humor and satire but also was, I think, a fairly accurate portrayal of what these men went through.

Nov 24, 2017, 10:24pm Top

Finished The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II. Full Review Written, and this was a powerful read--recommended, for those interested.

Nov 25, 2017, 11:48am Top

I finished The Cellist of Sarajevo and thought it was excellent - again very much recommended.

Nov 26, 2017, 5:07am Top

I just got I Was Told to Come Alone from the library. Another perfect fit.

Nov 27, 2017, 6:39am Top

I am listening to Mischling by Affinity Konar, a very distressing book about Auschwitz and the horrible experiments that were conducted with twins. I have to admit that I have thought of quitting this book more than once due to the horrific nature of events but have persisted.

Nov 27, 2017, 1:37pm Top

>34 Roro8:, I've got Mischling up for January--I'll have to keep that in mind and try to frame it with some lighter reads. I'll be curious to hear if you feel like it was worthwhile in the end, or if you end up giving up...

Dec 2, 2017, 5:02am Top

>35 whitewavedarling:, here are the basics of my thoughts on Mischling.

The first part of this book is truly confronting. More than once I considered stopping, as I said earlier. The violence and torture these children endure in Auschwitz is truly horrifying. Pearl and Stasha are twins, making them of particular interest for Mengele's experiments, horrors and tortures. Their relationship is truly beautiful, so when Stasha loses Pearl it is like she loses herself.

Though horrific, the story is compelling and well told.

Dec 3, 2017, 3:49pm Top

>36 Roro8:, I'm glad to hear it. I've been looking forward to it since it showed up in the mail, and some other serious/issues books just kept pushing it further off. Knowing your thoughts, though, I'll be better prepared to get the most out of it, and not weigh down my month of reading too much by stacking up other serious works! I'm glad you stuck with it, too, based on what you've said.

Dec 3, 2017, 6:40pm Top

I finished reading The Wars by Timothy Findley, about a young man's experiences during World War I. The novel has an interesting structure, as it's written in a mix of first-person, second-person and third-person narration.

Group: 2017 Category Challenge

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