The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose. Narrated by Phillip Hoose and Michael Braun.  (2015, Recorded Books)

This is the heretofore little-known story of schoolboys who challenged the Nazi army even as their country’s leaders collaborated with the Germans. Alternating first-person accounts of young saboteur, Knud Pedersen with carefully researched narrative, Phillip Hoose tells the compelling story of these daring young boys who were willing to risk their lives to free Denmark from German occupation. Without their parents’ knowledge, the boys raided, stole, and destroyed German property with nothing more than bicycles for transportation. Their heroic actions sparked the Danish resistance.

Michael Braun narrates the chapters containing Knud Pedersen’s first-hand recollections of the events. While his delivery is weighty, it lacks personality. It is through the actions of Knud that the listener learns to like and admire him, rather than through his speech. Perhaps because the book is targeted at a young audience (ages 12-18) and Knud himself was only a teen at the time, a younger voice would have been more appropriate. Author Phillip Hoose does an excellent job with the alternating chapters. He reads precisely and takes great care in the pronunciation of Danish names and places.

This is a well-researched, captivating story that proves the ability of individuals to effect change against overwhelming odds.

Review copy supplied by LibraryThing.

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Copyright © 2015 L. Taylor [Shelf-employed]. All Rights Reserved.

The Port Chicago 50

Although this book has been covered here before by Liz Parrott,

it’s worth mentioning one final time before we turn the page to 2015.

9781596437968.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, andthe Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin. (Roaring Brook, 2014)

The Port Chicago 50, as they became known, were a group of African American Navy sailors assigned to load munitions at Port Chicago in California, during WWII. The sailors’ work detail options were limited; the Navy was segregated and they were not permitted to fight at sea. The sailors worked around the clock, racing to load ammunition on ships headed to battle in the Pacific. They had little training and were pressured to load the dangerous cargo as quickly as possible.

After an explosion at the port killed 320 men, injured many others, and obliterated the docks and ships anchored there, many men initially refused to continue working under the same dangerous conditions. In the end, fifty men disobeyed the order to return to work. They were tried for mutiny in a case with far-reaching implications. There was more at stake than the Naval careers of fifty sailors. At issue were the Navy’s (and the country’s) policy of segregation, and the racist treatment of the Black sailors. Years before the Civil Rights movement began, the case of the Port Chicago 50 drew the attention of the NAACP, a young Thurgood Marshall, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Through the words of the young sailors, the reader of The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights relives a slice of history as a Black sailor in 1944.

Steven Sheinkin combines excellently researched source materials, a little-known, compelling story, and an accessible writing style to craft another nonfiction gem.

Read an excerpt of The Port Chicago 50 here.

Contains:

  • Table of Contents
  • Source Notes
  • List of Works Cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Picture Credits
  • Index

See this and all of my reviews at Shelf-employed, or follow me on Twitter @shelfemployed.

Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

2

Pure Grit – a review for Memorial Day

Although Pure Grit has been featured on this blog before, today is a perfect day to revisit it, and offer some useful links.

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Farrell, Mary Cronk. 2014. Pure Grit: How American WWII Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams.

Mary Cronk Farrell’s latest book chronicles the actions of Army and Navy nurses serving in the Phillipines during WWII. Although amazingly, none of the nurses perished during their harrowing years on the forward battle lines and in prison camps, their service to their country and the fighting men was nothing short of heroic.

Pure Grit is a narrative nonfiction account, told with compelling human details. Photographs, quotes, correspondence, newspaper accounts, maps and military records were combined to create a gripping story that breathes new life into a little-known story that is fading from our collective memory. Farrell was very fortunate to have interviewed the last surviving nurse of the seventy-nine who were taken as POWs by the Japanese.

Containing a Foreward, Introduction, Glossary, List of Nurses, Select Timeline, Endnotes, Bibliography, Web Sites for More Information, Acknowledgments, Image Credits and an exhaustive Index, Pure Grit could easily be considered a scholarly treatise on the topic — but Farrell has chosen to present her topic in a manner that simply cannot be ignored: a compelling story with personal and human details that will appeal to anyone over age 12, with even a passing interest in history.

Links of interest:

 

As you enjoy today’s kick-off to the summer season, perhaps celebrating with friends or family or enjoying a well-deserved day off from work, consider participating in the National Moment of Remembrance.

From the U.S. Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs:

…in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579 …

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell

(I hope no one will mind… I posted this on my own blog last Monday, but I wasn’t able to post it here until this week. Enjoy!)

Normally I read every book before I post about it, but–just this once–I was going to cheat. As much as I’ve been dying to read PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell, my to-do list is huge right now: writing new books, promoting BE A CHANGEMAKER, volunteer projects, critiques, family, pets, home… and let’s not forget, TAXES! To top it off, I’ve been sick way too much this winter. So, I sat down planning to just skim the book for the time being, write the post, and come back later when I had time to settle in, read it in more detail, and take it all in.

PURE GRIT book cover

PURE GRIT book cover

Several hours later, I was surprised to notice the time! I hadn’t checked Twitter or Facebook or even email all day, despite the “helpful” little alerts coming from my phone. I hadn’t even eaten lunch. Instead, I’d spent the better part of the day reading PURE GRIT, in detail, from cover to cover. I simply could. not. put. it. down. An engrossing blend of fact and storytelling, PURE GRIT tells the harrowing tale of U.S. Army and Navy nurses who endured first battle, then internment in the Philippines during WWII. Despite increasingly deplorable conditions, these female POWs continued to help others during their years in the prison camps. Amazingly, every single one of them eventually made it home alive.

I urge you all to devote an afternoon to reading this beautifully done book ASAP, but first, I’m delighted to introduce you to the author, Mary Cronk Farrell, who graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me.

Author Mary Cronk Farrell

PURE GRIT author, Mary Cronk Farrell

LT: Welcome, Mary! Wow, what a powerful book. I learned some valuable lessons and insights from reading it. Other than the facts involved, what did you learn from the process of writing this book?

Sorry, but if you want to read Mary’s answer to this and many other questions about writing PURE GRIT, you’ll have to read the rest on my blog!