Monday, October 31, 2016

690 (2016 #45). Undue Process

by Arnold Krammer

I read this book as a follow-up to The Train to Crystal City, because I wanted to learn more about the persecution of German aliens (and in some cases, citizens) in the United States during World War II, a topic overshadowed in our history by the internment of Japanese-Americans.

Undue Process: The Untold Story of America's German Alien Internees is relevant for me because I am currently doing some research about a first cousin twice removed who, despite immigrating here from Germany in 1912 and serving in the Army, was still not naturalized when World War II broke out.  He too was arrested (apparently because his American-born wife had a short-wave radio, illegal for aliens) and briefly detained, and then was a parolee for most of the rest of the war.

Author Arnold Krammer is (now) a retired history professor at Texas A&M University (I might have had him; he was teaching when I was there).  Using mostly primary sources, such as government documents released soon before the book was written (1997), Krammer provides more background information on why and how the government identified "dangerous" aleins, and how they were arrested and processed.  He also discusses issues that arose after the Civil Rights Act of 1988 passed, which compensated Japanese-Americans who were unfairly interned, but completely ignored German-Americans.

The extensive end notes (19 pages), bibliography (eight pages), and index (four pages) should help me in my research.


© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

Saturday, October 29, 2016

689 (2016 #44). Dawn on a Distant Shore

by Sara Donati,
read by Kate Reading

This book is the second in Sara Donati's Wilderness series - but little of it takes place in the wilderness of New York State in the late 1700s, unlike the first book.

Instead, this one has heroine Elizabeth Middleton Bonner and much of her family - increased by the birth of her twins Lily and Daniel at the beginning of the book - traveling to Canada (Montreal and Quebec) and ultimately by ship to Scotland.

The plot is rather far-fetched, and the brogues of SO many Scottish characters are hard to understand at times - although audiobook narrator Kate Reading helps.  Still, it was interesting enough to keep me going with this series.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[The e-audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to public libraries.]

Thursday, October 20, 2016

688 (2016 #43). Inheriting Edith

by Zoe Fishman

An easy beach read.  Maggie Sheets is a 38-year-old single mother of a two-year-old.  College educated, she quickly learns that she can earn more money housecleaning (which she enjoys doing) for the wealthy in New York City.  She becomes friends with a lesbian bipolar author, Liza Brennan, but falls out with her when Liza steals her short story character for a successful novel.

Later, Liza commits suicide, and leaves her beach house in Sag Harbor to Maggie.  There's just one catch - Liza's 82-year-old widowed mother with Alzheimer's, Edith, comes with it.

The plot is pretty predictable, but as I said, it's a quick and easy read.  Edith's friend Esther is a bit over the top.  I would have liked less of her and of Maggie's daughter Lucy, who is far too talkative for a two-year-old and in the book too much.  Instead, learning a little more about Liza, and finding out what happens with Lucy's father and with Maggie's father (from whom she is estranged, but beginning to forgive by the end of the book), would have been far more interesting.

Not a waste of time, but not a book I would read again.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It was donated to the local library Friends group.]

Friday, October 14, 2016

687 (2016 #42). The Train to Crystal City

by Jan Jarboe Russell

This book was this month's selection for the local book club I used to be active in (until the meeting time moved to afternoons, which I cannot attend).

The book discusses a World War II internment camp in Crystal City, Texas, that housed families of (mostly) men of Japanese, German, and Italian origin who were still aliens (not yet naturalized) and were considered a threat to national security during the war, sometimes simply because of their occupations (photographer, for instance, or bridge-builder).  Many of their children were born in the United States and thus citizens.  However, the parents agreed to be potential deportees in exchange for American citizens held behind enemy lines, so of course their minor children would go with them.

Jan Jarboe Russell interviewed a number of these surviving children, and their stories are the strength of the book.  She also presents the conflicting thoughts of the Americans supervising the internment, from the camp school principal through the camp director to the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and even the President.

I knew that there were some prisoner of war camps in Texas, but I never realized there were internment camps as well, particularly one for entire families.

This book is relevant for me because I am currently doing some research about a first cousin twice removed who, despite immigrating here from Germany in 1912 and serving in the Army, was still not naturalized when World War II broke out.  He too was arrested (apparently because his American-born wife had a short-wave radio, illegal for aliens) and briefly detained, and then was a parolee for most of the rest of the war.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

Saturday, October 08, 2016

686 (2016 #41). Into the Wilderness

by Sara Donati,
read by Kate Reading

This is a historical romance, set in upstate New York in (mostly) 1793.  I became interested in reading it after I finished The Gilded Hour, which features descendants of the characters in this book.  I was also intrigued by the setting, in the Adirondacks near Lake George and Saratoga, both of which I have visited.

Elizabeth Middleton is a 29-year-old spinster when she and her younger brother come from England to join their father in the town of Paradise in New York.  Elizabeth only wants to stay single and start a school, but she soon falls in love with Nathaniel Bonner, a 35-year-old widower of a Mohican wife.

Elizabeth and Nathaniel have an incredible amount of adventure over the next year and 876 pages (over 30 hours in audio).  Also an incredible amount of (good!) sex.  The plot was intriguing enough to keep me going, though.

Despite the unlikelihood of a woman teaching school in the United States in the late 1700s, I felt author Sara Donati researched the era well.  Details made me feel like I was there experiencing frontier life in that era.

I was interested to learn that Donati based Nathaniel's father Hawkeye on the character of the same nickname in James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales (of which The Last of the Mohicans is best known).  Donati says this book is a "very loose retelling" of The Pioneers from those tales.  Not having read that book, I can't comment (although I am interested in reading the Tales now).  Donati has Hawkeye marry Cora (from Last of the Mohicans) and Nathaniel is their son.  Elizabeth is apparently an amalgamation of female characters in Jane Austen's books, which I also have not read.

I liked this book well enough to continue on with the series (five more books).  Kate Reading's narration is excellent, especially the Scottish brogues of some of the characters - which, I understand, will come in to play even more in the next book.

© Amanda Pape - 2016


[The audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to public libraries.]

Friday, October 07, 2016

685 (2016 #40). Portrait of Route 66


by T. Lindsay Baker

My interest in this book is due more to the use of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives than the subject of Route 66.  Like my ancestors on my father's side, Curt Otto Teich (1877-1974) was a German immigrant who came to Chicago and was very successful.  From its opening in 1898 through 1978, the company produced postcards for businesses and attractions across the country.  The records of this postcard production company, once the largest in America, originally wound up at the Lake County Forest Preserve District's Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois.  Now the collection is about to be transferred to the Newberry Library in Chicago.  Some of the collection is available online in the Illinois Digital Archives.

(As an aside - the former archives had posted a great guide (very useful for collectors) to dating Teich postcards based on their stock numbers that is no longer online on the original archives URL.  Fortunately, it's been preserved in a Flickr group.  The company is also known for its "big letter" postcards, featuring the words "Greetings from [some town]," where the letters in the town's name were made of images of attractions there.  Also, it's very possible some of my ancestors and Teich knew each other, as the location of his company from 1898 through 1907, address 59-61 Clybourn Avenue in Chicago then - is very near Clybourn's intersection with Division, where my Dienes ancestors owned a hat store.)

T. Lindsay Baker, a history professor at my place of employment (Tarleton State University), visited the Teich archives and researched in the production files for postcards along historic Route 66, the former U.S. highway that ran 2500 miles across eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Many of the production files included the original black-and-white photographs that were used to create these postcards between 1925 and 1954, an era before color photography was prevalent.

The book features 112 sites (organized geographically starting in Chicago) along Route 66, presented in double-page spreads.  One side of the spread includes the black-and-white photo (often with notations on cropping and colors to use) along with the finished postcard (except in one case, where apparently a postcard was never made).  The other side of each spread includes Baker's research about the business or attraction pictured and the production of the postcard.  Baker also includes a brief description of what (if anything) was at that location in July 2014, when he and his wife took a road trip along the entire Route 66 looking for these sites.

The only things I would have liked to see in the book are:

  • a small image of the text on the back of the postcard (always quite interesting), and
  • either an image of what was on the site in July 2014, or an address or GPS coordinates so one could look for oneself (on Google Maps Street View, for example).

Nevertheless, this is an outstanding book and a great addition to Route 66 history.


© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

Thursday, October 06, 2016

684 (2016 #39). You Should Have Known

by Jean Hanff Korelitz

A rather predictable psychological thriller.  Grace Reinhart Sachs is a therapist who has just written a book with the same title as this one.  Grace's book is about the need for women to pay attention to first impressions when they meet men, subtle signals are there that can predict the outcome of the relationship.  Not surprisingly, Grace did not apply this in her own life.

Since Grace is a therapist, there's a lot of self-analysis of her previous and subsequent actions.  Fortunately, this was not as boring as it might have been, or I never would have gotten through this 400+ page book.  Since the book was a selection of my local book club, I might not have read it otherwise.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]