Sitting By My Bedside
“One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.”
~ Mary B. W. Tabor ~
What are you reading? Are you looking for your next great read? Here is a look at what is sitting by my bedside, and which I am pleased to recommend. Let me know what you think!
Sophie’s Choice, 1976, 1078, 1979, William Styron, Random House, Inc., New York, New York.
“Someday I will understand Auschwitz. This was a brave statement but innocently absurd. No one will ever understand Auschwitz. What I might have set down with more accuracy would have been: Someday I will write about Sophie’s life and death, and thereby help demonstrate how absolute evil is never extinguished from the world. Auschwitz itself remains inexplicable. The most profound statement yet made about Auschwitz was not a statement at all, but a response.
The query: “At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?”
And the answer: “Where was man?”
~ M ~
Alexander Hamilton, 2004, Ron Chernow, The Penguin Press, New York, New York.
I will admit that sheer popularity of the musical Hamilton, which I have neither seen nor am interested in seeing, at this point, has stirred, in me, a bit of negative bias, toward this book. I do not tend to care for too much that is “trendy”; however, I recently found this book, at a favorite haunt, for an excellent price, and decided to at least bring it home, even if it were for a temporary stay. Below, is the first line of the book, it is a piece of history that was not new to me, but certainly the words drew me in; I liked that Mr. Chernow began a book about Mr. Hamilton, with mention of his widow, and decided to continue reading the paragraph, then the page, and on to the next – oddly – well, maybe not, it is a page turner!
“In the early 1850’s, few pedestrians strolling past the house on H Street in Washington, near the White House, realized that the ancient widow seated by the window, knitting and arranging flowers, was the last surviving link to the glory days of the early republic.”
Tristram Shandy, 1760, Laurence Sterne, The Modern Library, Random House, INC., New York, New York.
I was watching an episode of Perry Mason, yes the very old television show, in black and white; which, by the way, is based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels; the case involved rare first editions, mentioning Tristram Shandy. As I watched the show, I thought I have not read this book, and made a notation of its name, into my telephone, planning to do some research into the book when I got home.
It was a week or so, after I got home, when I went into my library, planning to straighten out the shelves, and endless stacks of papers and pamphlets that never seem to diminish. When I buy new books (99.99 percent of the time new books to me are used), I place new books on their side, on top of the books, which are standing mostly neatly on their shelves, until I get a chance to get back and alphabetize the new additions. Midway through literature, I removed a well-used new book, to me, and much to my delight, it was actually Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, by Lauren Sterne! I could not believe it.
A few days later, I was winding up a conversation with my sister, when I shared this story with her, who of course was familiar with Tristram Shandy!
I feel rather certain that I bought the book because of A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, but either way, it is now in my possession and I am so looking forward to this read.
The Siege of Vienna, The Last Great Trial Between Cross & Crescent, 2000, John Stoye, Pegasus Books, New York, New York
“On 6 August 1682, an important meeting took place in Sultan Mehmed IV’s great palace in Istanbul. The highest officers of his government were present, and those among them who opposed the Grand Vezir Kara Mustafa for personal reasons, or deplored his aggressive statesmanship, had been silenced. They now agreed to disregard the existing treaty of peace with the Emperor Leopold I, which was not due to expire until 1684, and they recommended a military campaign for the year 1683, to be mounted in Hungary with the maximum armament of the Sultan’s empire.”
~ M ~
For many years Rabbi Joseph Telushkin book Jewish Literacy, The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History, has been my first stop when searching for a bit of understanding or enlightenment in pursuit of my Jewish studies. It is a wonderful book, pleasantly and informatively written; recently I found Jewish Wisdom, also written by Rabbi Telushkin, and am very pleased to recommend it to you.
Jewish Wisdom, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, 1994, William Morrow and Company, INC., New York, New York.
“As Harold Kushner has written: ‘Jews read the Bible the way a person reads a love letter. When you read a love letter, you don’t just read it for content. You try and squeeze every last little bit of meaning out of it, e.g., Why did he sign it ‘Yours’ instead of ‘Love’?”
~ M ~
“A good book is one you buy; a great book is one you read.”
~ Cristina Jill Mosqueda ~
~ M ~
“And I was There” Pearl Harbor and Midway-Breaking the Secrets, Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton, U.S.N. (Ret.) and John Costello, 1985, William Morrow and Company, New York, New York.
“I was so impressed by Hirata’s thesis that, under the pen name Tomomasa Emura, I submitted a translated summary to several magazines in October 1940, with a cover letter that ended, ‘Whether or not it is a review of Japanese-American naval warfare is a matter for history to determine.’ I received the rejection slips philosophically but, after history had indeed determined the matter on 7 December 1941, I could not help wondering if any of those magazine editors remembered my translation and regretted as much as I did their decision not to publish it.”
~ M ~
Against All Hope, The Prison Memories of Armando Valladares, Armando Valladares, 1986, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York.
If you find yourself wanting to understand the reaction to the recent events in Cuba, there is no other book, which I could more highly recommend. I first read this book when it was released in paperback, many years ago; it is the kind of book that once you begin you both cannot put down and yet dread reading the next page. The tyrant in Cuba was not a hero, he brought only death and destruction to this island that had once hoped for change, and instead found itself pulled into a world of fear, anguish, and terror. ¡Que Viva Cuba Libre!
~ M ~
The Cross, The Switchblade, and The Man Who Believed, David Wilkerson, Gary Wilkerson with R.S.B Sawyer, 2014, World Challenge, Inc., Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“Years later, when my uncle became sober, he told my dad he wondered if he had ever cared about him while he was addicted. To him, my father was out changing the lives of thousands of addicts without any real concern for his brother. Dad admitted he was distracted and didn’t know why he didn’t reach out more. In a sense, Uncle Jerry could have been speaking for us kids: our father was spending half of each year away from us while conducting youth crusades. Each of us handled it in our way, but there’s no getting around the fact that it was hard on all of us.”
~ M ~
You Must Remember This, An Oral History of Manhattan From the 1890’s to World War II, Jeff Kisseloff, 1989 Schocken Books, New York, New York.
“Martin Harris: Before the Frist War, Fifth Avenue down to below 57th Street was all private homes. The sidewalks were quite narrow, because people built their houses out close to the street. Some of them had lawns in front. Of course, the sidewalks were less crowded because there were no stores.
The streets were cleaned by sweeps. I always remember the story about the street cleaner who died. They were having a wake and were talking about him. ‘He was a fine man and a fine street cleaner, but he was a little weak around the lampposts.’”
~ M ~
The Last Jew, by Noah Gordon, 2000, Thomas Dune Books, An imprint of St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York.
“It emphasized his isolation and increased his despair. He yearned to hear any human voice speaking Ladino or Hebrew. Each morning and evening, in his mind he recited the mourner’s Kaddish, lingering over the prayer. Sometimes as he worked he desperately chanted soundless portions of Scripture, or the blessings and prayers that lately made up his life.”
~ M ~
Outwitting History, The amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, by Aaron Lansky, 2005, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“‘Aaron is that you?’ I recognized the voice at once: It was Sheva Zucker, a young woman who had taught me Yiddish at a summer program in New York four years before. ‘I am sorry to call so late,’ she said, ‘but this is an emergency!’ There are thousands of Yiddish books in a garbage Dumpster on Sixteen Street and it looks like it’s going to rain. How soon can you be here?’”
~ M ~
As Good As Golda; The warmth and wisdom of Israel’s Prime Minister, Compiled and Edited By Israel and Mary Shenker, 1970 The McCall Publishing Company, New York, New York.
“There is a type of woman who cannot remain at home. In spite of the place her children and family fill in her life, her nature demands something more; she cannot divorce herself from the larger social life. She cannot let her children narrow her horizon. For such a woman, there is no rest.”
~ M ~
The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, The Commander of the Entebbe rescue force, Jonathan Netanyahu, Introduction by Herman Wouk, Gefen Publishing House Ltd., Introduction © 1980, 2013, Jerusalem, Israel.
“It’s almost three months since I came to America. I go to a very nice school. Half the people know me as ‘the boy from Israel,’ but the truth is I haven’t got a single friend here. Not because they don’t welcome foreigners (quite the contrary, they want to befriend us), but because I keep aloof. And I do so not because I dislike them, but because I feel I belong to a different world. I’m remote from them, and as time goes by, the distance doesn’t diminish, but quite the reverse – it increase continually.
There’s not a moment here – even the most precious and beautiful one – that I wouldn’t trade for my immediate return to Israel. My friends in Israel, my social life there, and about all the land itself – I miss very much.
Longing is difficult to describe. I always used laugh at the world; I always thought that you could forget, but I was wrong; believe me you can’t. To adapt oneself to a new life – yes, that’s possible; but to forget the old – that’s impossible. . . .” ~ March 28. 1963 ~
~ M ~
The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for God at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, 2013, Penguin Books, New York, New York.
“Men as fit as you, when your everyday strength is gone, can draw on a mysterious reservoir of power far greater. Then it is that you can reach for the stars. That is the way champions are made.”
~ George Yeoman Pocock ~
“Then they rowed into a world of confusion. They were in full-sprint mode, ratcheting the stroke rate up toward forty, when they hit a wall of sound. They were suddenly right up alongside the enormous wooden bleachers on the north side of the course, not more than ten feet from thousands of spectators screaming in unison, ‘Deutsch-lad! Deutsch-land! Deutsch-land!’ the sound of it cascaded down on them, reverberated from one shore to the other, and utter drowned out Bobby Moch’s voice. Even Don Hume, sitting just eighteen inches in front of him, couldn’t make out what Moch was shouting. The noise assaulted them, bewildered them. Across the way, the Italian boat began another surge. So did the German boat, both rowing at over forty now. Both clawed their way back to even with the American boat. Bobby Moch saw them and screamed into Hume’s face, ‘Higher! Higher! Give her all you’ve got!’ Nobody could hear him. Stub McMillin didn’t know what was happening either, except that he hurt as he’d never hurt in a boat before – hot knives slipped into the sinews of his arms and legs and sliced across his broad back with each stroke; every desperate breath seared his lungs. He fixed his eyes on the back of Hume’s neck and focused his mind on the simple, cruel necessity of taking the next stroke.”
~ M ~
The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang, 1997, Penguin Books, New York, New York.
“Americas think of World War II as beginning on December 7, 1941, when Japanese carrier-based airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. Europeans date it from September 1, 1939, and the blitzkrieg assault on Poland by Hitler’s Luftwaffe and panzer divisions. Africans see an even earlier beginning, the invasion of Ethiopia by Mussolini in 1935. Yet Asians must trace the war’s beginning, all the way back to Japan’s first steps toward the military domination of East Asia – the occupation of Manchuria in 1931.”
“The Rape of Nanking should be remembered not only for the number of people slaughtered but for the cruel manner in which many met their deaths. Chinese men were used for bayonet practice and in decapitation contests. An estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were raped. Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs, and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them get torn apart by German shepherds. So sickening was the spectacle that even the Nazis in the city were horrified, on proclaiming the massacre to be the work of ‘bestial machinery.’”
“But the Japanese government underestimated the ability of the International committee to wage its own publicity campaign. One distinguishing trait that united the zone leaders was their superior training in the verbal arts. Al most without exception, they were eloquent writers and speakers. The missionaries, educated at the best universities in America and Europe, had devoted most of their adult years to delivering sermons, writing papers, and working the Christian lecture circuit; some of the professors on the committee had written books. Moreover, as a group they were sophisticated about working the media; long before the fall of Nanking they had enjoyed broadcasting speeches over Nanking radio or penning articles about China for the popular press. Finally, the missionaries had an additional advantage the Japanese did not foresee: they had spent their entire lives contemplating the true meaning of hell. Having found one in Nanking, they wasted no time in describing it for the world public. Their hard, cogent prose recaptured the terror that they had witnessed.”
The Lamps Went Out In Europe, by Ludwig Reiners, 1955, Pantheon books INC., New York, New York.
“On March 20, 1890, Wilhelm II, by God’s wrath German Emperor and King of Prussia, dismissed Prince Bismarck from office. It was just a few days before the chancellor’s seventy-fifth birthday. The reasons Wilhelm gave for this action were of the flimsiest. The plan fact was that he wanted to rule the Reich alone. The greatest statesman in German history was, as he himself described it, ‘fired on a day’s notice’ and in terms which no decent draper’s shop would have used toward a clerk of many years’ service. Bismarck was asked to return his salary for the last eleven days of the quarter, which had already been paid out to him.”
~ M ~
Statecraft, Strategies for a changing World, by Margaret Thatcher, 2002, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, New York.
I have not yet begun to read this book, though it is next on my list; I mention it now to acknowledge my sister, Caroline’s, most generous and wonderfully surprising Christmas gift, which has left me thrilled and beautifully overwhelmed. Caroline managed to find not only a first edition of Statecraft, but an autographed copy, which she gifted me with, much to my delight. Regardless of your political persuasion, Margaret Thatcher, was in my opinion, an incredibly successful woman, who standing on her principles achieved her dreams, and I look forward to the read.
~ M ~
A Safe Haven, Harry s. Truman and The founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald, 2009, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, New York.
“It is fair to conclude as David Niles did, that if FDR had lived and Truman not been president, there probably, would not haven an Israel. Certainly, if Franklin D. Roosevelt had been in office, support at critical moments would most like not have been offered. Without Truman, the new State of Israel might not have survived its first difficult years, and succeeded thereafter. For this, Truman will continue to be viewed as a hero in Israel and continue to have a place of honor in the history of the Jewish people.”
~ M ~
Anonymous Soldiers, the Struggle for Israel, 1917 -1947, by Bruce Hoffman, 2015 Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York.
“The delicacy of navigating between two peoples’ historical, cultural, religious, and political claims to the same land was beyond the capacity of many British officials in OETA. Not only were they generally unsympathetic to Zionism, but their predisposition favoring the Arab claim poisoned relations with Palestine’s Jewish community. The anti-Semitism common to the British upper and officer classes of the time likely played a role as well. This antipathy toward the Jews and Zionism became so obvious that, following a visit to Palestine in 1920, the director of military intelligence reported to his superiors in London that OETA’s military and civilian officials were ‘unanimous in expressing their dislike of any policy favoring the Jews, and (harbor) serious fears of the consequences of such a policy.’”
~ M ~
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, 1973, Moyer Bell, Kingston, Rhode Island & Lancaster, England.
“I’d written a book called 84 Charing Cross Road, and a few months after it came out in New York, a London publisher named Andre Deutsch bought it for publication in England. He wrote me that the London edition would be brought out in June and he wanted me there to help publicize the book. Since he owed mea small ‘advance,’ I wrote and told him to keep the money in his office for me. I figured it was enough to keep me in London for three weeks if I was frugal.”
The Fugu Plan, The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War II, by Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz, 1979, Paddington Press, New York and London.
“That was strange, Sugihara had thought at the time, because, to the best of his knowledge, all the countries of the world now required entrance visas. Even Shanghai, the one place traditionally open to everyone under any circumstance, no questions asked, had, under Japanese occupation, instituted visa requirements the year before. However, what Curacao required was the business of the Dutch, not the Japanese. So Sugihara stamped the multi-lingual transit visa into Gutwirth’s passport, filling in the date of issue and duration of validity.”
La Edad De Oro (The Golden Age), by Jose Marti, 1983 edition, originally published in 1889, La Moderna :Poesia, INC., Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana.
“Para los niños es este periódico, y para las niñas, por supuesto. Sin las niñas no se puede vivir, como no puede vivir la tierra sin luz. El niño ha de trabajar, de andar, de estudiar, de ser fuerte, de ser hermosos: el niño pude hacerse hermosos aunque sea feo; un niño bueno, inteligente y asead es siempre hermoso.”
Leap of Faith, Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, by Queen Noor, 2003, Hyperion, New York, New York.
“Work for life on this earth as if you are to live forever, and work for the life after in heaven as you are to die tomorrow.”
Adrift, The Cuban Raft People, by Alfredo A. Fernandez, Translated by Susan Giersback Rascon, 2000, Arte public Press, university of Houston, Houston, Texas.
“What awaited the raft people beyond the three-mile limit that they supposedly could reach in their tiny vessels? No one knew. And for the moment no one dared answer the question. The political climate, the announced maritime blockade, the forecasts of the experts regarding the fearsome Gulf Stream, as well as the predictions of the Miami Meteorological Service, did not bode well.
Nevertheless, the raft people, daring all that might befall them, advanced slowly across the waves, on tiny rafts, believing, with the highest hopes in the world, that they would arrive safe on the coast of the new promised Land of the United States of America.”
Voyage of the Damned, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts, 1974, Stein and Day/Publishers/ Scarborough house, Briarcliff Manor, New York.
“Then, suddenly, incredibly, he and a group of other men were released on condition they all leave Germany within fourteen days. They were driven out of the camp and dumped at Nuremberg’s station. there, waiting for him, aged and drawn but smiling was Rachel, with the children. She held a shabby suitcase filled with his clothes. She explained that her family had raised the money to buy him a Cuban visa and tourist-class ticket on the St. Louise; he wept as she said that she and the children would follow, later, on another boat.”
Watchmen on the Walls, An Eyewitness Account of Israel’s Fight for Independence from the Journal of Hannah Hurnard, by Hannah Hurnard, 1997, Monarch Publications Ltd., Broadway House, The Broadway, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN^ 1HQ, England.
“Back in November 1917, the Balfour Declaration had promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine, provided the rights of the indigenous population were not infringed upon. but no one had quite worked out how the hopes and aspirations of both peoples could be justly accommodated in such a circumstance. in the course of time, Britain made promises to both Arabs and Jews that proved to be incompatible and, in trying to please all parties, succeeded only in pleasing none.”
Lipstick Jihad, A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian In America And American In Iran by Azadeh Moaveni, 2005, PublicAffairs, New York, New York.
“All our lives were formed against the backdrop of this history, fated to be at home nowhere – not completely in America, not completely in Iran. For us, home was not determined by latitudes and longitudes. It was special. This, this was the modern Iranian experience, that bound the diaspora to Iran. We were all displaced, whether internally, on the streets of Tehran, captives in living rooms, strangers in our own country, or externally, in exile, sitting in this New York bar, foreigners in a foreign country, at home together.”
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, by Lucetee Lgnado, 2007, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, New York.
“As we drove away, I felt that I was leaving all I cared about behind, not simply a stranger who had shown me such unexpected kindness, but another old woman, grandmother, Zarifa, and another, Nonna Alexandra, a young woman, too, my mother, Edith, crossing the threshold of Malaka Nazli as a twenty-year-old bride, and Baby Alexandra, the sister I had never known, and my two uncles who had seemed forever lost — the child of the souk and the priest, returned from his Jerusalem monastery — and my aunt Bahia, back from Auschwitz, clutching her husband and Violetta, and my father, about all, my father.
Jewett, Novels and Stories, Sarah Orne Jewett, Library of America College Edition, 1996, distributed by Penguin Books, New York, New York.
“The world goes on year after year. We can use its forces, and shape and mould them, and perfect this thing or that, but we cannot make new forces; we only use the tools we find to carve the wood we find. there is nothing new; we discover and combine and use.”
The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, 2012, Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks, New York, New York.
“Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris. Part of it was the war. The world had ended once already and could again at any moment.
The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris, by David McCullough, 2011, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York.
“The Greater Journey is the enthralling, inspiring – and until now, untold – story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off of Pairs in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work.”
An Island Called Home, Returning to Jewish Cuba, by Ruth Behar, Photographs by Humberto Mayol, originally published in 2007, second paperback printing 2013, by Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London.
“Yiddish – speaking Jews thought Cuba was supposed to be a mere layover on the journey to the United States when they arrived there in the 1920’s. They even called it “Hotel Cuba.” But as the years passed, the many Jews who came from war-torn Europe remained, and the beloved island ceased to be a hotel and eventually became ‘home.’ When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 the majority of the Jews left in a mass exodus, remaking their lives in the United States, yet mourning the loss of the Jewish community they had built.”
Tropical Diaspora, The Jewish Experience in Cuba, by Robert M. Levine, originally published in 1993, current edition 2010, by Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, New Jersey.
From the Foreword: “In proportional terms, Cuba offered refugee or migrant status to more Jews than did any other Latin American country. Proportionally more, in fact, that was offered by the United States. . . . In this scholarly and informative book, Robert M. Levine offers three reasons for this unusual circumstance.” ~ Anthony P. Maingot ~
The Cuban Story, by Herbert L. Matthews, 1961, George Braziller, Inc. New York, New York.
“I say they had no intention or desire of making a Communist revolution. For all of 1959, Cubans put a supplementary stamp on their letters to the United States with these words in English:
Our Revolution is Not Communist
Our Revolution is Humanist
The Cubans only want the right to an education, the right to work, the right to eat without rear, the right to peace, justice, freedom.”
~ M ~
Cuba Between Reform and Revolution, by Louis A. Perez, Jr., 1988, Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
“The Cubans did not have to defeat the Spanish, they had only to avoid losing. Time was on the side of the Cubans, and if Spain failed to lift the insurgent siege in the west, soon all would be lost everywhere in Cuba.”
~ M ~
Travels With Charley, In Search of America, by John Steinbeck, 1962, The Viking Press, New York, New York.
“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don’t improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself.”
~ M ~
Residence on Earth, by Pablo Neruda, 1973, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, New York.
“If you ask me where I have been
I must say ‘It so happens.’
I must speak of the ground darkened by the stones,
of the river that enduring is destroyed:
I know only the things that the birds lose,
The sea left behind, or my sister weeping.
Why so many regions, why does a day
join a day? Why does a black night
gather in the mouth? Why dead people?”
~ M ~
“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.”
~ Alexander Smith ~