Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Frank Zappa one noted; “So many books, so little time”, and truthfully I have to share in his thoughts.
The past month has been very busy with travel as well as work but at the same time I have continued to read at a rather brisk pace and I want to let you know what I have been reading so you can see what has been provoking so many of my thoughts. In fact since we went to Germany I have spent less time on social media, less time diving deep into the current news of the day, and more time reading as well as walking and contemplating what I have read.
Over the past month I have read Walter Lord’s Miracle at Dunkirk, Amy S. Greenberg’s A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico, Geoffrey Megargee’s War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941, Deborah Lipstadt’s The Eichmann Trial, while I am in some way involved with working my way through Richard Evans’ Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, William Craig’s The Fall of Japan: The Final Weeks of WWII in the Pacific, Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers:How Europe Went to War in 1914.
All of these books are important. Dunkirk which Lord wrote decades ago is very useful in interpreting the film of the same name that came out last summer. I actually think it is one of the best because of his focus on the individuals involved. Greenberg’s A Wicked War deals with the major personalities involved in the U.S. invasion of Mexico and the precedent that the actions of President James K. Polk in launching an unprovoked, immoral, and criminal war of aggression on a weaker neighbor. It is very pertinent reading in our present day and the portrayals of both Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln remind us that it is not unpatriotic to oppose a President when he acts against the ideals of the country and lies to get his agenda passed. Megargee’s War of Annihilation is important because it helps to crush the myth embraced by many military history buffs that the German Wehrmacht had clean hands in the conduct of the war and that it was only the SS which executed the crimes of the Nazis. The evidence that Megargee presents of the complicity of the senior leaders of the Wehrmacht in the crimes against the Poles and during Operation Barbarossa against the Russians, as well as their assistance to the killing squads of the Einsatzgruppen is a needed tonic against the myth. Finally, Lipstadt’s The Eichmann Trial is an excellent presentation of the case which is able to correct some of the myths about Eichmann and the trial, including a fair critique of Hannah Arendt’s treatment of the trial.
In addition to the books I am currently reading I have more waiting in the wings including Michael Burleigh’s Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II, Alistair Horne’s The Age of Napoleon, George Annas and Michael Grodin’s The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation, Vivien Spitz’s Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans, Laurence Rees’s The Nazis, a Waring from History, and Megargee’s Inside Hitler’s High Command.
Books are important and if we don’t read we fail to understand life itself. Reading helps put life in context, even things that seem unjust or unfair, or the disappointments of life, as James Baldwin wrote: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
So until tomorrow,