5 Most Popular Posts: January 2023
- February 2, 2023
We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are January’s winners.
- Kitty Kelley’s review of The Lost Paratroopers of Normandy: A Story of Resistance, Courage, and Solidarity in a French Village by Stephen G. Rabe (Cambridge University Press). “It was the worst mis-drop of any U.S. airborne unit on D-Day. Yet the 900 residents of Graignes, a small Catholic village, saw the billowing white “silk from the sky” as God’s deliverance from German occupation. They embraced the paratroopers with warm hearts and heroic hands, particularly the women and children, who cooked around the clock to provide two meals a day for the 182 paratroopers — Allied troops deemed “the enemy” by the Nazis. The people of Graignes opened their barns and stables to hide the airmen; scouted the area to gather covert intelligence regarding German troop movements; and hauled wagonloads of equipment salvaged from the muddy swampland of the marais, where the men had landed 18 miles off-target.”
- Patricia Schultheis’ review of Horse: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks (Viking). “Told from the perspective of six characters, Horse interweaves the story of the Black equestrians who made their white masters fabulously wealthy with those of contemporary young professionals struggling to form relationships despite racial microaggressions and misunderstandings. By far, the most compelling narrative is that of Jarret, an enslaved boy in Kentucky, whom Brooks describes as being ‘slow to master human speech, but he could interpret the horses: their moods, their alliances, their simple wants, their many fears. He came to believe that horses lived with a world of fear, and when you grasped that you had a clear idea how to be with them.’”
- Chris Rutledge’s review of Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster). “Underlying Waco is a warning about the danger of religious fervor. David Koresh, and those who led his Davidian sect before him, inspired followers to blindly do their bidding and even commit crimes. The cult was rife with internecine squabbles. One early leader was succeeded by his wife, while his son led a splinter group aimed at supplanting her. Other members seemed unclear how to proceed and sought a charismatic head. Enter Koresh. Well versed in biblical scholarship, he used his knowledge to cynical advantage. In particular, he seduced members’ wives — and lured their daughters into sexual servitude — using scripture as justification.”
- Elizabeth J. Moore’s review of To Break Russia’s Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars Against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks by Vladimir Alexandrov (Pegasus Books). “A world-famous revolutionary and writer who lived at an unparalleled juncture of history, politics, art, and literature, Savinkov is little-known today in the United States — save perhaps for viewers of ‘Reilly, Ace of Spies.’ But in his lifetime, he was the leading voice for democracy in Russia, acting first against the tsarist regime and then the Bolsheviks.”
- Amanda Holmes Duffy’s review of Our Wives Under the Sea: A Novel by Julia Armfield (Flatiron Books). “Nevertheless, the prose throughout the novel is frequently moving and evocative, and it kept me turning the pages. Armfield has a deep feel for language, although she sometimes makes use of it to obscure a lack of psychological depth. She also indulges in occasional falsely lyrical passages — for example, when Miri ‘woke up at three to a white rubber necking moon at the window, which I chose not to find unsettling.’ Quibbles aside, the final scene in Miri’s narrative absolutely floored me. As a description of loss and letting a loved one go, it moves me to tears just thinking about it now. So, if you stick with Our Wives Under the Sea through some of its labored and rambling passages, you will have earned this denouement. Getting to the author’s closing insight is well worth the wait.”