While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton — A Review

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This is a small book, only in length, but please do not be misled by its relatively short size. It is a wonderful historical read, and it is full of interesting and captivating details of life during World War Two as seen through the eyes of a child.

Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton do a marvelous job of pulling the reader into the child’s perspective, who finds wonder and joy, even in this terrible historical period. I loved reading about how the family survived with what they had and still managed to maintain the important aspects of life regardless of the hardships of the time.

The details are fascinating, and the added recipes are delightful. If you are interested in history or a captivating tale, then I recommend this book highly!

I was enthralled in the story from the very beginning through to the end. I have tended to read historical accounts as told through the perspective of adults, and this book, narrated by a very young child, is a refreshing approach.

I give this book a 5 star review, and I hope you buy a copy and read it!

Please visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Roberta Writes

Robbie’s Inspiration

Robbie Cheadle–Books/Poems/Reviews

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Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

An U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society– Post by M. C. Tuggle

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I want to thank M. C. Tuggle for joining the Underground Library Society!

I will have another post for the U. L. S. up on Sunday.

Now, here is M. C. Tuggle’s post:

I Am Beowulf

by M. C. Tuggle

I follow the rusting railroad tracks, occasionally veering off to wade through icy streams so the Mechanical Hound cannot follow my scent. When I find Granger and his small band of rebels, he welcomes me with hot coffee, which I greedily drink, then chase down with the bitter fluid Granger assures me will change my scent and confuse the Hound. Then he asks what book I choose to become by committing it to memory.

There is no question which book it will be.

After all, I’ve joined the resistance against a totalitarian government that controls its subjects by keeping them in perpetual ignorance. Numbed by mindless, ever-present mass media, the population exists without a past, either as individuals or as part of a living tradition. Only the present moment exists for them. Independent thought is quickly detected and snuffed out, and anyone with a book is a criminal who can be executed on the spot.

So of course the book I choose to memorize and become must be Beowulf.

After all, the oppressed people of Fahrenheit 451 need a vision that will rouse them out of their apathy. Once they rediscover who they are and what they were meant to be, maybe a fire will grow in their bellies and inspire them to reclaim their humanity.

Also, practical issues aside, I just love Beowulf. It’s the high school classic that made me into a future English major. The gritty details of battle against Grendel, his mother, and the dragon are as vivid and breathtaking as the greatest adventure tales of Robert E. Howard or H. Rider Haggard. And the action in Beowulf is not only entertaining, but significant. The tale is packed with commentary on the human condition as well as eye-opening insights into history, religion, and culture.

In Bradbury’s dystopia, historical amnesia has been weaponized to keep the people alienated and aimless. In Beowulf, on the other hand, one’s history is a vital part of one’s existence. Early in the story, when a Danish watchman challenges Beowulf and his crew, Beowulf identifies himself by telling the watchman about his lineage:

“We belong by birth to the Geat people and owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac. In his day, my father was a famous man, a noble warrior-lord named Ecgtheow.”

And in stark contrast to the soul-crushing conformity and stupor of Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian society, the world of Beowulf celebrates achievement, battle, and nobility. Upon first viewing Beowulf, the Danish watchman remarks, “Nor have I seen a mightier man-at-arms on this earth than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken, he is truly noble.”

Beowulf also gives us an overview of the history of Western civilization. It offers a glimpse of Britain’s transition from a pagan to a Christian culture. My take on this classic is that it is a rewriting of an oral epic from pagan days. What makes it unique is that it mirrors the history of the spread of Christianity, particularly in northern Europe, where the world-weary religion of southern European slaves and the poor reinvented itself to appeal to the more prosperous, more aristocratic, and more worldly north.

In doing so, the new religion embraced much of the pagan worldview of northern Europe, and this update of a pagan classic reflects that.

Consider the book’s undisguised pagan values. The hero sets out to save the Danish king’s mead hall, a place where members of the warrior class drink, feast, and share the spoils of battle. Prized weapons are named, something we do not see in the Iliad or Odyssey. And instead of promoting turning the other cheek, or looking to an eternal reward as life’s ultimate aim, Beowulf glorifies revenge and worldly honor: “It is better for us all to avenge our friends, not mourn them forever. Each of us will come to the end of this life on earth; he who can earn it should fight for the glory of his name; fame after death is the noblest of goals.”

I have four translations, or modernizations, of this epic poem. My favorites are by JRR Tolkien and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. If forced to pick, I’ll have to go with Heaney’s shimmering retelling. That’s the book I would memorize.

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M. C. Tuggle writes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories, and occasionally gets some published. His observations and rants about the writing craft appear on his blog mctuggle.com

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Thank you again to M. C. Tuggle!

Favorite Holiday Movies: Part One!

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This season is one of my favorite times of year, and I love doing this series on Christmas movies. Throughout the month of December, I will post on several of my favorite Christmas films.

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White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldiers who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin.  As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.

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My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps.  This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international. They understood that the connection to country meant service and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_Corps_%28United_States_Army%29)

My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.

Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, over 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife. And now my granddaughter is old enough to begin to appreciate and enjoy these films. I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie.  This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.

And I wish we would have a white Christmas, and I hope it will happen this year.

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Quotations On The Knowledge Of History

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4/11/02 Michael Crichton ’64, HMS ’69 speaks on “The Media and Medicine” at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA on Thursday, April 11, 2002. staff photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University News Office

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”

                                                                     Michael Crichton

 

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“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

                                                                    Carl Sagan

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“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

                                                                    George Santayana

 

“We should and must judge our leaders by their knowledge of history.”

                                                                    Charles F. French

Quotation From Edward Gibbon On Responsibility

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“When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

                       Edward Gibbon (From The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

Books That Have Influenced Me: Dracula

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I have ready many books over the course of my life, and books have become a central part of who I am. I read books for pleasure, for study, and for examination. I teach books in my literature classes, I write about them in scholarly work, and I write novels. As I was considering the topic for this post, I started to think about what books have influenced me the most in my life.

I do not mean that I want to explore what books are the most meaningful or the most important literature. That is a completely different discussion. Certainly there can be crossover in my choices, because I will not eliminate a text on its literary value, but I am interested now in which books had a part to play in my development as a human being, which ones helped to form me into the person I now am.

So many come to mind and are possibilities for discussion, especially when I think of some of the books I read as a youngster in high school. Among these novels are Dracula, The War of the Worlds, A Tale of Two Cities, Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings and Fahrenheit 451.  Certainly, there were many more books that I read at that time, and I have always been a voracious reader, but these books, in a variety of ways help to shape my interests and some of my directions in life.

Today, I will focus on Dracula by Bram Stoker and what its influence on me was and is. This was one of the first Gothic novels I had read, and its power caught me immediately. I was drawn to the images of dark castles, terrible villains, and the supernatural. That I love Gothic is still clear, because not only do I teach Gothic literature, but also I write it.

Dracula, however, had a much deeper impact on me that simply the horror aspect; I was drawn to the idea of the need for good people to oppose evil.  It is a theme that, on the surface, might seem simplistic, but a person need only look at the history of the 20th Century into our contemporary time to see that evil does exist, especially in the form of people who would oppress, torment, exclude, and bully others. Of course, I am not making an argument that the supernatural evil in this novel exists, but that human evil certainly does.  The Nazis demonstrated that human horror in its full capacity.

In this book, a fellowship of human beings is created, and they decide to fight a creature that is far more powerful than anything they could have imagined, and they do so at the risk of their lives.  This act of defending others, even if the people do the battle are put at risk, became a central part of my ethos.  There will always be those who would bully and oppress others, and they must always be opposed.  While in early high school, Dracula helped to form that idea in my mind.

In the next entry in this series, I will discuss a book in which the idea of fellowship is a central theme.

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

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R.I.P. Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison, the great American writer, died today at the age of 88. Morrison wrote many important works, among them Beloved, Sula, and Song Of Solomon.

Ms. Morrison was a writer of brilliance, and she wrote of the experience of African-Americans and of humanity in general. Her work covered historical time spans and incorporated Modernism and Magic Realism.

Ms. Morrison was also an accomplished teacher and mentor. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012. Ms. Morrison also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Ms. Morrison was one of our greatest writers, and I am sure she will be remembered in the future of one of the most skilled, talented, and accomplished of American writers.

Please remember her by reading her works.

R.I.P. Toni Morrison

Let Us Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

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50 years ago, the human race set foot on the moon, the culmination of a journey begun in 1961 with President John F. Kennedy’s call for the U.S.A. to gather around this project, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too” (JFK). He made the challenge, and the United States of America accepted it.

The moon landing remains the most extraordinary scientific and technological achievement in the history of the human race.  We should celebrate this event, remember its importance, and strive to achieve more. Let us remember the importance of science and its possibilities.

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As a very young teenager, I was enchanted and enthralled by this voyage, and I felt optimistic about what we, as humanity, could achieve. The television show Star Trek embraced the humanism that was inherent in this project, and science and was part of this spirit. I remain optimistic about our possibilities, even in the face of science deniers and the horrible rise of right wing fascism. We still can unite, and we still can achieve. I believe that, and I hope for it.

Remember this achievement, let humanity recognize its interconnection, let us understand the crucial importance of science, and let us set our sights on returning to the moon and beyond!

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Works Cited:

https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm TEXT OF PRESIDENT JOHN KENNEDY’S RICE STADIUM MOON SPEECH.

Quotations on History

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“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

                                                                         George Orwell

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“Study the past if you would define the future.”

                                                                        Confucius

 

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“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

                                                                        Edmund Burke

Quotations on Tyrants

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“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”

                                                                  Mahatma Gandhi

 

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“Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!”

J.K. Rowling Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

 

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“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

                                                                           John F. Kennedy