Thursday, October 15, 2015

HITLER'S LAST DAYS by Bill O'Reilly

O'Reilly has provided a very readable and fast-paced account of the final months of World War II and the eventual demise and death of history's most famous man of evil, Adolf Hitler.  With larger type face and an abundance of photographs and maps, this book was a relatively quick and easy read.  For one interested in the history of WWII I found O'Reilly's book quite interesting, learning new details of people, places and events I had not known before.  The style of writing offers a vivid picture of the events chronicled and keeps the reader's interest.  By the end of the book you have that sobering feeling one gets after delving into the blackness of that time and the dark wickedness that inspired so much of the bloodshed, suffering and destruction at Hitler's orders.  Besides Hitler O'Reilly provides many other portraits of key individuals in the story as well as numerous appendix-like articles detailing events and people mentioned elsewhere in the narrative.

Now I will return to Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by Heiko A. Oberman, my reading project in honor of the Reformation this month.....[review to follow shortly - I hope!]

Monday, October 5, 2015

FIREHOUSE by David Halberstam

When I first saw this book at my local Good Will store it was not yet the anniversary date of 9-11.  Originally my goal was to read it before 9-11 as a way of honoring this momentous date and my brother fire fighters who died that day.  Nevertheless, it would be nearly a month later that the book was finished.

I especially like the picture of the book seen here, opened so that both front and back are visible.  For the book is largely about the 12 men pictured there who died in the collapse of Trade Center towers.  The author weaves a story of life at the firehouse, the personal backgrounds of the deceased firefighters complete with accounts of family and friends and various individual stories, and ends with the memorials and recovery efforts to reclaim their physical remains.  As a firefighter I appreciated this book on a level I might not have without the past 12 years experience on my department.  Although these men were career firefighters there is a commonality to which I could relate: pride in ones work, the reality of danger and death, a sense of loyalty to the department, fulfillment of engaging in a service to ones community.  Rarely do fire fighters perish so suddenly and so completely. Only one man in the original crew survived, and he was so badly injured that it was almost surprising that he did live. 

This book is a wonderful tribute to true heroes who saw themselves merely as public servants doing their job.  We will never know what went through their minds in those fateful moments leading to their deaths, but if there was fear it never kept them from doing the unthinkable: rushing in to a place doomed to destruction.  I highly recommend reading this book as a reminder of the sacrifice of this day, a sacrifice we dare never forget.