7/10/10

Old Dog, New Reading

Jo Ann Kemmerling
In my recent reading, I've kinda been traveling in the Way Back Machine to the very early 1900s. I had just finished Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945 by Barrett Tillman and had watched several good documentaries about the grim war in the Pacific. I used to think that the atomic bomb won the war, but it was actually won by logistics and the Seabees. I never realized how many American soldiers, sailors, and Marines died of various jungle diseases in the Pacific theater. It was grim. Anyway, so I put all that aside and picked up Hearst Over Hollywood by Louis Pizzitola, which was interesting, except that I learned a lot more about yellow journalism, raw greed, and Tammany Hall politics than I did about Hollywood. I realize that there are many other books about the life of William Randolph Hearst, but I doubt I'll be exploring those any time soon. Keeping with the Tammany theme, I next read Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, the story of a deadly blouse factory fire in 1911 New York, by David von Drehle. (Excuse me for stringing "deadly blouse" into an adjective phrase there.) Anyway, the book was quite compelling. At the time, garment workers were trying to get their work week reduced (yes, reduced) to 54 hours. I hadn't known that either. (Amazing what new tricks an old dog can learn just by reading, ain't it?) Now I'm almost done with A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s by Roger Kahn, which is great fun even if you're not a fan of boxing (I'm certainly not). I'm learning a lot about early 20th century American journalism and everyday life. It seems that some of the darker side of movie scripts like The Front Page (1931), Night Mayor (1932), A Shriek in the Night (1933), His Girl Friday (1940), and even The Big Carnival (1951) had foundations in certain actual events from the 1910s and 20s. And next up is a book about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, but we'll have to wait to see how that goes.
Wanda Hendrix
And what are you reading this month?
Huh?

2 comments:

Tom said...

"Spies of the Balkans" by Alan Furst, set where you'd expect, about 20 years before these tight-sweatered, yet studious suburban co-eds...ah, memories.

K. said...

'World War II - Behind Closed Doors; Stalin, the Nazis & the West', by Laurence Rees.

Oh, that Uncle Joe ... what a card!