Tag Archives: War through the Generations reading

Review: Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More

Vietnam is like a huge jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces fit.

~ Ba Rose: My Years in Vietnam, 1968 – 1971

Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More*

From the publisher:

One of just a handful of women reporting on the Vietnam War, Kate Webb was captured by North Vietnamese troops and presumed dead—until she emerged from the jungle waving a piece of white parachute material after 23 days in captivity. Le Ly Hayslip enjoyed a peaceful early childhood in a Vietnamese farming village before war changed her life forever. Brutalized by all sides, she escaped to the United States, where she eventually founded two humanitarian organizations. Lynda Van Devanter was an idealistic young nurse in 1969 when a plane carrying her and 350 men landed in South Vietnam. Her harrowing experiences working in a combat zone hospital would later serve as inspiration for the TV series China Beach.

In these pages readers meet these and other brave women and girls who served in life-threatening roles as medics, journalists, resisters, and revolutionaries in the conflict in Vietnam. Author Kathryn J. Atwood presents a clear introduction to each of five chronological sections, guiding readers through the social and political turmoil that spanned two decades and the tenure of five US presidents. Each woman’s story unfolds in a suspenseful, engaging way, incorporating plentiful original source materials, quotes, and photographs. Resources for further study, source notes and a bibliography, and a helpful map and glossary round out this exploration of one of modern history’s most divisive wars, making it an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf.

This book by Kathryn Atwood is part of the Women of Action series from Chicago Review Press.

Although I was very young at the time, I remember the Vietnam war. But I have a child’s memory of that war. We never learned about it in school because it wasn’t quite history yet. Certainly, we knew all about it, right?

Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. As I said, my view of it is filtered, just as my view of Desert Storm will always be filtered through the lens of riding in an M577 tracked vehicle, a pair of headphones on my head, as we bounced up and over the berm between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. What was everyone else doing? I have no idea.

I may never fill in those gaps, but I was amazed at how much I learned about the Vietnam war. One of the things I appreciated about this book was how it was organized into five parts. Each part covered significant events taking place during those years with corresponding stories:

  • Part 1 1945-1956: Ho Chi Minh’s Revolution
    Women’s stories: Xuan Phuong and Geneviève de Galard
  • Part II 1957-1964: Ngo Dinh Diem’s Civil War
    Women’s Stories: Le Ly Hayslip and Bobbi Hovis
  • Part III 1965-1968: Lyndon B. Johnson’s American War
    Women’s stories: Kay Wilhelmy Bauer, Jurate Kazickas, and Iris Mary Roser
  • Part IV 1969-1970: Richard M. Nixon’s “Peace”
    Women’s stories: Anne Koch, Dang Thuy Tram, and Lynda Van Devanter
  • Part V 1971-1975: Endings and Beginnings
    Women’s stories: Kate Webb, Joan Baez, Tracy Wood, and Kim Phuc

Reading the history in parts, followed by each woman’s story, allowed me to really get a sense for not only the big picture but how these big events impacted the lives of everyday women, from all walks of life and all sides of the conflict.

The prose is, as always with Kathryn’s books, accessible and a pleasure to read. Technically this is a young adult nonfiction book, but it’s such a great resource for anyone: writer, student, teacher, homeschooler, historian. Like other books in the series, this one includes extensive notes, bibliography, and one of my favorite features: the Learn More section at the end of each woman’s story.

You can purchase the book at many online retailers or directly from the publisher.

* I received a review copy of this book from Chicago Review Press.

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Weekly writing check-in: the one with a new book (to read)

WomenHeroesWWIIA new book! To read!

Women Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater landed in my mailbox yesterday. And I can’t wait to read it. Review forthcoming.

I also have a new book of my own (well, technically a novella). I’m closing in on the end of the very last episode of Coffee & Ghosts. I’m thinking I’ll finish it up this week.

I’ve been working through Vellum as well, and as it says below, lots and lots of Vellum (because I have lots and lots of books to format).

I even sent out a couple of submissions.

Not bad for the last week of summer.

Writing Work:

  • Writing: Coffee & Ghosts ~ 7,500 words
  • Photoshop and Vellum, lots and lots of Vellum

Submissions:

  • Knight in the Royal Arms
  • Like Bread Loves Salt

Rejections:

  • None

Acceptances:

  • None

Publications:

  • None

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2012 Reading Challenge wrap up

WWIchallenge

So last night I finished my last book for the War Through the Generations 2012 WWI reading challenge.

I read seven books in all, which is the most I’ve read for this challenge since I started doing it. I signed up for the “wade” level of 4 – 10 books, so I accomplished that quite comfortably. And I still have more WWI books I want to read. Even so, I plan to sign up for the 2013 challenge: The American Revolution.

It’s perfect timing since this spring, Kyra’s class does a huge unit on the American Revolution and we plan to do the reading challenge together.

To sum up 2012, here’s a quick overview (with links to some reviews) of the books I read:

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (review here)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Fantastic middle grade novel that should appeal to adults as well. One of my favorite constructs–the story within a story. This one is on audio as well and would make a good summer road trip book.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

I discovered this one thanks to a Facebook post. Yes! Facebook! Good for something.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

WWI mystery. If you like the Maisie Dobbs series, this is a good choice for historical/WWI mysteries.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon (review here)

Not really connected to Downton Abbey, but still interesting.

World War One: History in an Hour by Rupert Colley (review here)

This book is exactly what it claims to be: a concise overview of World War I that you can read in an hour or so.

Not So Quiet … Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith

Interesting if ultimately tragic (what else could it be) story about female ambulance drivers on the Western Front in WWI. Helen Zenna Smith is a pseudonym for Evadne Price, who had an interesting and varied writing career. Read more about her on here on Wikipedia.

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Review: Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz first caught my attention when it was offered on the War Through The Generations blog as a prize, one of three books generously donated by Macmillan Audio.

Alas, I did not win a copy of the book, but I went searching for it at my library. And there it was, in all its audio book glory. I put myself on the waitlist and hoped my turn would come up before the end of the year.

My turn did come up. And I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.

From Amazon:

Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown’s uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict.

Brown, the descendant of New England Puritans, saw slavery as a sin against America’s founding principles. Unlike most abolitionists, he was willing to take up arms, and in 1859 he prepared for battle at a hideout in Maryland, joined by his teenage daughter, three of his sons, and a guerrilla band that included former slaves and a dashing spy.

On October 17, the raiders seized Harpers Ferry, stunning the nation and prompting a counterattack led by Robert E. Lee. After Brown’s capture, his defiant eloquence galvanized the North and appalled the South, which considered Brown a terrorist. The raid also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown’s dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure he called “a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale.”

Tony Horwitz’s riveting book travels antebellum America to deliver both a taut historical drama and a telling portrait of a nation divided—a time that still resonates in ours.

The book covers John Brown’s life and provides enough information on those around him (of both personal and historic importance) that I came away with a better understanding of this single-minded man and the time in which he lived.

While I enjoyed the entire book, the section that covers the raid and the summer build-up to it were especially interesting. I was particularly taken by Annie Brown and the summer she spent in the company of her father and his men at the Kennedy farm in Maryland (not far from Harpers Ferry).

Annie and her sister-in-law Mary (wife of John’s son Oliver) spent the summer at the Kennedy farm as camouflage, to help make it look like a real working farm–because a group of men doing nothing but moving and hiding large crates looks suspicious.

I really enjoyed the camaraderie as described by the author between Annie and the men at Kennedy farm. There are hints (or at least, the author speculates) that among those killed at Harpers Ferry was a young man Annie had fallen in love with. (And there’s a novel in there, I’m sure. It ends tragically, of course.)

The above illustrates what I enjoyed about the book. The narrative is rich with historical detail, while at the same time, makes for compelling reading.

In all, Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz is a detailed and fascinating look at a very important event in US history. I highly recommend it.

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Booking Through Thursday: Reading resolutions

From Booking Through Thursday this week:

Any New Year’s reading resolutions?

I would like to up my reading again this year. I read 60 books last year (this includes audio books). This year, I want to read one print/e-book per week, for 52 books, plus whatever I listen to in the car during the commute.

Rough goal: 75 books this year. Can I do it? We’ll see.

I’m going to participate in a reading challenge this year. I didn’t last year and I missed that. War Through the Generations is doing a Civil War reading challenge. And hey, I’m one book in already. My goal is three to five, but I hope to read more than that.

What I plan to read:

  • Two Girls of Gettysburg (halfway done and I’m enjoying it)
  • Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War (All her Civil War writings in one volume—I’m on a LMA kick)

Possible Re-reads:

  • Little Women (see above re: LMA)
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (read, more than once, back in the day as officer professional development)

How about you? Any reading plans? A challenge or two? Tackling the TBR pile?

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