It’s been awhile – Mass Review

Been very busy around here with work and vacations so I’m going to briefly summarize and opinionate my thoughts on these books.

1. A Women in Berlin by Anonymous – I was expecting  a lot out of this book and came away somewhat disappointed.  This work is actually a diary written by a female that describes here life from the last months of the Second World War until about the time the allies divided the city.  Having studied this period, I was expecting her life in the city to worse than she actually describes.  This is especially important period for women’s history as they faced not only bombing campaigns from the allies but mass rape by the Red Army and an extreme food shortage that left Germany with almost no food in the war’s immediate aftermath.  My studies, however, focused in the eastern regions of Germany (which eventually became modern Poland) and it seems that in these areas, the Red Army acted even more ruthlessly than they did in Berlin where estimates range from tens of thousands to two million. No matter the number it is still a little know human rights violation.  The diary by Anonymous does not reveal the brutality of the Eastern Front but still describes the mass rape of women and their struggles to survive in city devoid of German males and controlled by the Soviet army.

2. The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien – O’Brien’s book is a semi-autobiographical discussion own experiences with the Vietnam War combined with fiction.  No matter how much is fact and fiction, O’Brien did fight in Vietnam and his work feels much more personal than Junger’s.  O’Brien book describes many the challenges faced in going to the war – driving all the way to the Canadian border to escape but going anyway out of a sense of duty, losing friends and comrades, feeling responsible for the death of others, killing a man, and describing the war to his children.  It is an emotional book that reveals the power of story telling, and, as Esquire states, “No one else has written so beautifully about human remains hanging from tree branches.”

3Millennium Series with Lisbeth Salander by Stieg Larsson – Overall these three books are entertaining and good for sitting on airplanes, traveling, and sitting around the pool.  The plots aren’t completely believable and the character Lisbeth seems to have acquired every relevant skill she needs to survive sometime in the future before the plot of the book – she is just apparently equipped for any situation.  Another problem is the fact that Larsson was a journalist and he is extremely detail oriented.  I feel that all of these books could have been 150-200 pages shorter. But, as mentioned, all entertaining.

4. The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell – Again, another entertaining novel but from I was expecting a lot more.  Word of mouth and the number of copies sold had me convinced that this a good mystery but it just turns into a really long story about a several murders.  Let me be more clear – the story was good but the solving of the crime was rather long, drawn out, and predicable.  I was hoping for more suspense and surprise which this book had none.  Again for entertaining yourself on vacation.


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