Categories
History

George Will: Holocaust Museum Showcases Lessons for Today

George Will writing in The Washington Post on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

Nothing — nothing — is unthinkable, and political institutions by themselves provide no permanent safety from barbarism, which permanently lurks beneath civilization’s thin, brittle crust.

This is why the Holocaust is the dark sun into which this democracy should peer.

Categories
Audiobooks Music

James Taylor Recounts his Early Years

In ‘Break Shot: My First 21 Years‘ James Taylor recounts his first 21 years in very personal and moving terms while interspersing his wonderful music.

The audiobook is only 90-minutes long and worth every minute. Here are a couple of highlights that really resonated with me:

  • “Memory is tricky. We remember how it felt, not necessarily how it was. Songs grow out of memories.”
  • “We want to go back and fix something that has already vanished and can never be corrected. But we can correct it in a song . . . .”
Categories
History

‘Most Humans are Susceptible to Propaganda’

Erna Paris writing in The Globe and Mail:

The core learning future generations must acquire, in addition to the facts of Holocaust history, will be to recognize the impulse to genocide, how and why it starts, the propaganda tools it employs to persuade, and the known consequences of silence and indifference. I think this learning must also include the somewhat rueful acknowledgement that most humans are susceptible to propaganda in various degrees, which is why early-stage vigilance is so crucial.

Erna Paris was born in Toronto in 1938. She is the author of seven works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her book Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada.

Categories
Audiobooks History

‘The Liberation of Paris’

The Liberation of Paris is a gripping book that is packed full of interesting details about Nazi-occupied Paris and its last commander Dietrich von Choltitz.

Dietrich v. Choltitz – Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R63712 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler ordered Choltitz to hold Paris, but if that wasn’t possible, to destroy it. Although General Choltitz had been very loyal to Hitler, he could not bring himself to obliterate the City of Light. He ultimately surrendered Paris to French forces on August 25, 1944. He’s been called the “Saviour of Paris” for preventing its destruction.

After his surrender, Choltitz was held for the remainder of the war in London and the United States and was ultimately released from captivity in 1947. He died in Baden-Baden in 1966.

The author of this exceptional book was the distinguished political scientist and biographer Jean Edward Smith. Smith’s work includes highly regarded biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He died on September 1, 2019 at the age of 86.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Fred Sanders, who has narrated many fine audiobooks including Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.

Categories
Audiobooks

’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’

Yuval Noah Harari is a history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But he’s no ordinary history professor. His current research focuses on big picture questions including:

  • What’s the relationship between history and biology?
  • Does history have a direction?
  • Have people become happier over time?

Harari does not tackle easy questions and always has something thoughtful to say. Only time will tell if he’s right.

Bill Gates included Harari’s book entitled, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century on a list of five books he loved in 2018. Gates found it offered “a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.”

Harari helped me put the day-to-day news in context, especially on the topic of the degree to which automation will affect the job market. Harari believes that artificial intelligence will have an enormous impact on the job market. For example, he argues that artificial intelligence will replace doctors in diagnosing common ailments.

The book helped me to think about the forces at work and the impact they will have on the world. To me, that’s more important than the accuracy of specific predictions.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Derek Perkins, who is British but now lives in Boston. He still sounds quite British. I found his narration easy to follow.

If you’d like to see what Professor Harari is like, he gave a one hour talk at Google in 2018:

Categories
Audiobooks History

Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Re-enacted

“Report from Nuremberg: The International War Crimes Trial” is a collection of reenacted radio broadcasts providing news covering the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. Given all that has been written about the trial, it is interesting to hear the contemporary radio reports. It is almost like CNN updates on the trials. The descriptions of the defendants and their dress, mannerisms and personalities were of great interest.

I commend Audible for creating these reenactments and making them available. I enjoyed listening to them. The narrators were all excellent. The sound of the mechanical typewriter at the start of each broadcast helped me imagine what it must have been like to hear these broadcasts live.

Between October 18, 1945, and October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal, as it was known, tried 22 people on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit such crimes. Twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death. Three defendants were acquitted.