Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembrance Day

November 11th always sparks my historical curiosity. As if to honour the memorial, I read only historical fiction this time of year related to WWI and WWII. I am particularly drawn to the stories of the Holocaust. I have never fully understood why but I read everything I can get my hands on, watching every documentary I come across, about how an unfathomable number of Jewish men, women and children were rounded up and sent to their deaths.

Being a student of psychology my whole life...always asking 'why', much to the limits of my parents patience growing up...I am utterly fascinated with how it could have happened. It was not that long ago. How people could turn off their humanity to such a degree has always been beyond my limited...and, yes, privileged...understanding.

I strive to learn all I can as a way of understanding. It's my nature. Not to agree or disagree with choices made long ago...choices that cannot be undone...but to find a way to wrap my brain around it; to learn how to keep humanity from repeating its mistakes...through my actions, since that is all I have control over.

Sadly, it is but one example of many genocides around the world throughout history. It is, however, the one I am most drawn to and it is the one I continue to read about every year at this time. Perhaps because there are still survivors alive today from WWII and so it has a strong foothold in our collective consciousness. Perhaps it is due to the simple reason that I am still seeking to understand and have not yet been able to answer my own questions. Whatever the reason, I find myself reading another story about WWII and asking the same questions.

This year especially, I wish my grandparents were still alive to share their stories with me. I have been reading The Wayfinders by Wade Davis and am troubled by the alarming number of cultures that are dying out, and with them, their stories, their languages, and their wisdom. The implications his thesis holds for when the last of the WWII veterans and survivors have passed on is equally disturbing. Is it possible that their stories and the teachings of their experiences will die with them?


Here are some of the books with content related to the World Wars that have left a lasting impression on me:

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Night by Elie Wiesel (non-fiction)

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (non-fiction)

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

The Diary of Anne Frank (non-fiction)

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Fugivite Pieces by Anne Michaels

Band of Brothers: E-Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne... by Stephen E. Ambrose

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The Wars by Timothy Findley

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

For those with other book recommendations related to WWI or WWII, I welcome you to post them here.

Lest we forget.


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