Posts Tagged ‘David Downing’

Destruction and Beauty

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

I felt the need to finish the Library of the Holocaust books, but to do so sooner rather than later, and then to read something completely different, so that’s what I did. The series, or rather the topic, brings me down, despite its importance, and I normally don’t read so much about it all at once. I prefer to focus and reflect on the personal stories, as more approachable, normally, but occasionally it’s worth reminding myself of the scale of this scar on humanity.

78. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: Origins of the Holocaust by David Downing

This one discusses not just the 1920s and 1930s and Germany, but the ingrained Anti-Semitism across Europe and beyond over centuries and millennia.

79. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: Fighting Back by David Downing

About the wide spectrum of resistance, from those keeping diaries and archives in secret to provide documentary evidence, going on with education and life beyond survival, through both Gentiles and Jews helping each other to survive, to the physical armed fighting back of the Ghetto uprisings and Resistance groups.

80. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: Aftermath and Remembrance by David Downing

The ongoing impacts.

81. The Essential Rene Lalique by William Warmus

And this was my relief, showing beautiful jewellery and glasswork in the context of the time and Lalique‘s art and career. I had heard Lalique’s name, and that he had something to do with art glass manufacture, but I have now learnt a lot more, and did I have the time and money I think I would look into collecting some of his pieces. Although I don’t have the display space either! (I’ve discussed that before.) (Beware music on the company website.)

History’s Bigger Picture

Monday, 17 March 2008

73. England: An Aerial View by Adrian Warren & Dae Sasitorn
74. England: The Mini-Book of Aerial Views by Adrian Warren & Dae Sasitorn

These two books contain nearly all the same photographs, in a very similar order, but not precisely, and the pictures sometimes have different proportions or other final editing. The first book is a large (and heavy!) coffee table book, with very good historical overviews of the regions of England, with good captions next to each large photograph.

The Mini-Book has similar (but abbreviated) overviews and without the detailed captions, just the briefest few words giving the name and rough location of each. The photography in each are beautiful, and there are a few pictures that literally took my breath away (at least in the larger size). (NB I dithered over counting these as one read, but they aren’t precisely the same and I did read both.)

There is a Britain version of this pair of books, which I look forward to reasonably soon.

75. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: Toward Genocide by David Downing
76. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: The Nazi Death Camps by David Downing
77. World Almanac Library of the Holocaust: Persecution and Emigration by David Downing

I’m going to summarise the review of the three of these together as well, as reading them had me in tears, and I don’t want to go into the detail again right away. This is a very well put together series however (we have three more I haven’t got to yet), that gives plenty of sources (plenty for the purposes of teenagers and personal readers, at least) showing some of the major trends and effects of the Holocaust. It’s for a general audience, and ‘explains’ what happened briefly, explaining how much the individuals actually knew at the time, as well as what we know with hindsight. It’s clearly written, and allows for people dipping in and out of the book, although each of them reads well straight through. It quotes personal testimony, but doesn’t tell individual stories, as most of the Holocaust literature I’ve read does.

I amn’t looking forward to reading the rest of these, but I think it’ll be worthwhile.

Bookending my day

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I’m off to crochet very shortly, but I have some more books for you. The first I finished on the way to work, the other two I read at work, and I’m quite sure I’ll be perusing some pages later tonight.

41. Skullcaps and Switchblades by David B. Lazerson

It appears this book has been reprinted relatively recently (although my copy says 1999) but it was originally published in 1987 and recounts the author’s experiences as a teacher in what would now (in the UK, anyway) be called the special educational needs (SEN) department of a Buffalo, New York, USA public school during the second half of the 1970s. He seems to have been very effective, although I can’t imagine some of his methods being allowed in schools here and now. Many of his methods and results are still inspirational however.

The period and expected audience does come through in the constant reminders of race issues and how people are just people with different (but generally not badly different) cultural overlays. Again this probably wouldn’t be discussed in the same language now, twenty years later.

42. Leading Lives: Emmeline Pankhurst by David Downing

I hadn’t known so much about the Pankhursts as people, rather than as Suffragette icons before this book, which is short and concise (as aimed at school pupils) but including plenty of interesting detail. I hadn’t even realised Emmeline and her husband Richard had five children, not just Christabel and Sylvia. Her two sons died relatively young, and the third daughter, Adela, doesn’t seem to have been as politically active.

It is mostly about the politics, of course, but I can appreciate the focus on history through personal stories. Most of the time, anyhow!

43. Get Writing!: Write that Poem by Shaun McCarthy

And this one is an introduction for children to the forms of poetry and various approaches to writing one’s own.