Book Club of 1- Meeting Two. This Time With An Actual Book, Too!

Bus Stop Books

50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany
by Steven Pressman

Again, profanity warning…

Bus Stop Books
I filled this up with ARC copies of past Book Expo Books.

Drinking: Pink Bubbly Moscato
Eating: no comment, but I went out and got it on a walk.  I wanted to drop off some books at this Bus Stop Books box (like Free Little Library) by the house.  It was close enough to walk and so was the restaurant so I walked.  Meanwhile, that box was completely empty so I felt really good about filling it up with non-mass market paperback books.  I have see a few other of these boxes around town.  The point is, I felt I had properly made a somewhat-junky dinner worth it.

I seem to have a thing for World War 2 and the Holocaust.  This will probably not surprise the people who know me.  Growing up Jewish means I have been immersed in it since childhood.  This year I keep feeling like I am reading a lot of books about this era:

I made myself a promise that I was going to stop purposefully reading Holocaust books specifically because they are a mixed bag of quality and can be depressing.  Though, my favorite modern day holocaust memoir is Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story.  I was tentative about 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany.  In the end I picked it up for my mother when I saw it at a recent conference.  I didn’t initially regret sending it to her until the moment after I left it with the post office.  Then I suddenly wanted to read it so much.  I got lucky, Overdrive already had it available and there was no wishlist.

I really appreciated how Pressman put this story into context regarding what was going on in Germany/Austria as well as with the US.  People often forget that the US Melting Pot mentality was over by this time.  Immigration was quite difficult for people looking to escape the Nazis by going to the US.

As I finished the books days later, I realized there is a documentary about all of this.  This was my conversation with the Interwebs about it:

Me: Hey Interwebs, I want to watch this documentary.
Interwebs: OK, you can buy it.
Me: I have Netflix, can I stream or get the DVD?
Interwebs: No, you can buy it.
Me: I am a librarian.
Interwebs: So? You can buy it like everyone else.
Me: Fuck you!
Interwebs: No, fuck you and buy it.
Me: Oh look, HBO was one of the companies involved.  I am going to talk to them.
HBO: I got you, dude!

That was how I ended up getting to see the movie by the end of the day.  Actually, I just watched it as I ate dinner.  I liked the movie even though the book gave far more detail and context.  I mean, it was an 8 hour audio book compared to a 90 minute movie.  So, if you have HBO you can watch it for free!

My favorite discovery during all of this book was Edith Nourse Rogers.  She was pretty much the awesomest person I have discovered from Lowell.  Take that Kerouac!  She worked to try and change the immigration laws so that it was easier for European Jews to get into the US.  It failed (what’s new… no seriously, this shit doesn’t seem to change), but she pushed.  She did some other awesome things and I suggest you just read the Wikipedia entry.

Speaking of people from Lowell: Ed McMahon could have played George Messersmith in a movie.

Having read In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, I found it interesting to be reading such a very different POV of a couple of political characters.  For example, both authors seemed to think Messersmith was adept at assessing the reality of situations and playing politics well.  I suggest In the Garden of Beasts strongly for people who like the political side of World War 2.

On to the next book!  I have been moving my office at work so I am flying through audio books as I pack up and move things around.  I think it will probably be The Wee Free Men.

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