Book Review: “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front” was published in 2020 (May) and was written by Tim Heath. Mr. Heath has published nearly a dozen books and novels. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Situations, and Mature Language. This book tells the story of several young German women. It follows them from Hitler’s rise to power until Germany is defeated in May 1945.

Hitler was welcomed as he rose to power. Changes the Nazi party put into place benefited the common worker and Germany was prospering. Women were a large portion of his voter base that put him into power. They saw the Nazis as stabilizing the country. Soon though their outlook began to change, but by then it was too late. The strict control of the Nazis prevented any from speaking out or asking questions without punishment. 

The book describes the hardships the women experienced. All of the women are in their twenties or younger. Some were wealthy at the beginning of the war, others were barely making ends meet. The first year or so of the war caused them little discomfort, but as the war progressed there were shortages, the loss of loved ones, and the Allied bombing to contend with. Their lives were drastically altered by the war. 

I enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent reading this 232-page history. This was a different look at WWII. Not many books I have read have dealt with the war from the Axis civilian point of view. The story is a combination of author narrative, interviews, and letters. Not only are the memories of the “housewives” presented, but often memories from their children are included. If you are interested in the human impact of WWII, you will find this book of interest. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

A Piece of the Cold War in Austin

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When WWII ended in Europe in May of 1945, Easter Europe, including part of Germany, was occupied by Soviet forces. Germany was divided into four occupation zones at the Potsdam Conference in the late summer of 1945. Each zone was under the control of one of the Allied powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. With Berlin being well within the Soviet zone, it too was divided into four sectors. 

The Soviet Union worked to create communist governments in those countries they had occupied. In their zone in Eastern Germany, they worked with German socialists to create the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In addition to the GDR, they set up similar governments in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Along with Albania, these countries and the Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact to oppose NATO. These two became the opposing sides during the Cold War. The other three Allies joined their western zones into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. 

The oppressive GDR drove many Germans to escape into the West. It is estimated that as many as 3.5 million East Germans (20% of the East German population) had fled to the west by 1961. The GDR began closing the border at midnight on August 31, 1961. The border was manned by troop, roads were torn up, and barbed wire was installed (156 km or 97 miles) around the three western sectors of Berlin. The first concrete segments of a wall were erected on August 17. In addition, chain link fences, minefields, and other obstacles were put in place along the border between East and West German. 

For the GDR the wall solved some economic problems that stemmed from two German currencies and an active Black Market for western goods. It also stopped the flow of people to the west, particularly many of the more educated East Germans. This enabled the GDR government to assert tighter control over its citizens. On the downside the wall became a public relations problem. It was a symbol of the Communist East and border guards shooting those trying to escape did little to enhance this point of view. It is thought that nearly 200 people were killed trying to escape over the wall. 

The final Berlin Wall was some 140 km (87 miles) in length. The initial wall was repeatedly improved over the years. The  “fourth generation” wall was the most sophisticated and was completed in 1980. This version of the wall was constructed of 45,000 reinforced concrete panels, each 3.6 m (12 ft) high and 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide. In the fall of 1989 there was growing unrest in East Berlin. The GDR government finally announced on November 9, 1989, that they would begin allowing citizens to visit the West. Demolition of the Berlin Wall officially began on June 13, 1990, and it was completed in November of that year. Removal of the wall opened up Germany for reunification, which was completed on October 3, 1990. 

In the aftermath of WWII, six new National Guard divisions were created. One of those was the 49th Armored Division and it was assigned to the Texas National Guard. It officially came into being on February 27, 1947, and was nicknamed the “Lone Star Division”. The 49th initially was equipped with WWII vintage equipment, but over the years as the Regular Army received updated armor, the 49th was updated with newer “hand-me-down” equipment. In 1961 when East Germany began building the Berlin Wall the 49th was one of the National Guard Divisions President Kennedy ordered to be mobilized. 

The members of the 49th were called to active duty on October 15, 1961. It moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train in preparation for deployment to Germany. The unit spent nearly a year in preparation and was eventually designated as a division in the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC). STRAC was created as a flexible strike force capable of worldwide deployment on short notice. Fortunately, the tension created by the construction of the Berlin Wall had diminished by the late summer of 1962 and the 49th was demobilized in August of that year. 

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 a section of it was presented to the Texas National Guard in recognition for their readiness for deployment to Germany. The segment of the wall is on display in the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, TX. It can be found in the Cold War/War on Terror room in the West Gallery. The plaque reads:

Dedicated to the soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard whose service during the Cold War helped bring the Berlin Wall down

Book Review: “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Tom Savage (http://tomsavagebooks.com). Mr. Savage has published 12 novels. This is the fourth in his “Nora Baron thriller” series.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This continues the story of Nora Baron who has joined her husband at the CIA.

This story is about their first mission together. A person of interest, Frenchman Claude Lamont, is taking a Caribbean cruise with his second wife. Nora and her husband are asked to join the cruise and keep an eye on Lamont. Lamont is thought to be funneling large sums of money to terrorists. The CIA thinks he will be making contact with someone on the cruise and the Barons are there to find out who.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 203-page mystery/thriller. This is not an action-filled thriller, but more of a mystery. The plot takes a few twists and turns to end up in a different place than you first might expect. I have now read three of the four (“The Woman Who Knew Too Much” & “The Spy Who Never Was” earlier) Nora Baron novels and have enjoyed them all. If you like a good mystery/thriller without a lot of violence, then you will enjoy these novels. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Tom Savage (http://tomsavagebooks.com). Mr. Savage has published 12 novels. This is the fourth in his “Nora Baron thriller” series. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This continues the story of Nora Baron who has joined her husband at the CIA. 

This story is about their first mission together. A person of interest, Frenchman Claude Lamont, is taking a Caribbean cruise with his second wife. Nora and her husband are asked to join the cruise and keep an eye on Lamont. Lamont is thought to be funneling large sums of money to terrorists. The CIA thinks he will be making contact with someone on the cruise and the Barons are there to find out who. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 203-page mystery/thriller. This is not an action-filled thriller, but more of a mystery. The plot takes a few twists and turns to end up in a different place than you first might expect. I have now read three of the four (“The Woman Who Knew Too Much” & “The Spy Who Never Was” earlier) Nora Baron novels and have enjoyed them all. If you like a good mystery/thriller without a lot of violence, then you will enjoy these novels. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Reading is More Important Than You Might Think

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I came across the article “Why Reading Books Is Important for the Brain” today and found it very informative.

There is a growing trend among Americans to read fewer books. Reading is good for your brain because it uses “a highly variable set of skills that are deep and complex“. This is good for your brain health. There is also evidence that reading fiction helps people to “improve their ability to recognize and empathize with feeling sand viewpoints” of others.

Several other benefits that come from reading are mentioned in the article. We should all encourage those we know to take a little time and read.

Book Review: “Britain 1940: The Decisive Year on the Home Front”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Britain 1940: The Decisive Year on the Home Front” was published in 2020 (July) and was written by Anton Rippon. Mr. Rippon has published several books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book relates the experiences of those who lived in 1940 Britain.

It doesn’t look at the combat of the time but at the more everyday aspects of life. One chapter addressed the objections to conscription. Another with sporting events carried out in wartime. Other chapters dealt with women in the workforce, labor unrest, the Home Guard, and the internment of foreign nationals. A longer look was taken at the blitz and how that impacted the civilians. Opportunities appeared that let some shine as heroes. Others used air raids and the resulting destruction as an excuse for crime. 

I enjoyed the 7 hours I spent reading this 240-page history. This was a bit of a dry read as there were a lot of facts and numbers. There were many things though that I learned from the book. It does give a different view that is common to that first full year of the war. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 3.9 (Rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Learn the macOS Command Line

(See my other macOS and Linux related posts) – While “Unix for the Beginning Mage” is not new (the sources I have found date back to 2005) it is still relevant today.

You may, or may not, know that by using a Mac with macOS, you are using a system based upon the Unix operating system. When Apple acquired NeXT in 1996, it also gained the use of the NeXTSTEP operating system. NeXTSTEP had its roots in an earlier Unix system, BSD. Apple released macOS (then called Mac OS X) in 2001.

Now one of the notable things about macOS is that instead of using the traditional user interface to the operating system, NeXT had infused NeXTSTEP with a number of innovative GUI (Graphical User Interface) features which made the system far more user-friendly. For most user operations, they rarely, if ever, need to open up a Terminal and interact with the system through the command line.

This short book is for anyone who wants to open up a terminal and give commands to their system through just the keyboard. The book is only 100 pages long, so it is not an in-depth look at using the command line. It is enough to get someone started and guide them through the essentials.

You can download the free PDF at Unix for the Beginning Mage. As you might expect from the name, the book takes a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach to learning some of the basic features of the Unix shell.

If you found this of interest you might also be interested in my CLI (Command Line Interface) page.

 

Book Review: “The White Feather Killer “

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The White Feather Killer ” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by R. N. Morris (http://rogernmorris.co.uk). Mr. Morris has published 11 novels with this being the 5th in his “Silas Quinn” mystery series. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story is set in 1914 London. The primary character is DI Silas Quinn. 

Quinn has finished his recuperation after his last case and has returned to Scotland Yard. He finds that his old team has been reassigned as has he. His Special Crimes Department has been disbanded. Quinn’s new duties are a slap in the face. 

WWI has just begun. Pastor Cardew holds a rally to support the British. The young women of London are urged to hand men not yet enlisted a white feather to ‘urge’ their enlistment. The day after the body of a young woman is discovered with a white feather in her mouth. Initially, Quinn is excluded from the investigation. He sees more in the evidence than those in charge and it is not long before that stirs up more trouble for him. Fortunately, he is not entirely on his own. An arrest is made for the young woman’s killer, but Quinn believes that they have the wrong man. 

Will he be able to find the guilty party and survive at Scotland Yard?

I enjoyed the 7.5+ hours I spent reading this 288-page mystery. I did think that the book started off slowly. It was not until the 35% point that the murder of the young woman actually takes place. Things, fortunately, pick up from that point until the end of the novel. As you would hope to find in a mystery, there are several twists to the plot. I do like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Video Tutorials from MacMost – learn something new in about 10 minutes

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(See my other Mac and OS X related posts) – I have been an email subscriber to MacMost for quite a while. That delivers an email once a week with links to a handful of their video tutorials.

The featured 10:46 tutorial this week (released 2/14/20) is “8 Better Alternatives to Sending Large Email Attachments”.

I don’t watch all of their tutorials, but there are several that I have found very interesting. If you visit their website and the Video Tutorials page, you will find more than 60 categories and more than 1800 individual tutorials. Another option is to visit their channel on YouTube.

Either way, you want to approach them, MacMost has a wide selection of tutorials that will enable you to know more about your Mac! Most of these are only 5-15 minutes in length so it is easy to allocate time during your day to watch at lease one.

Music of WWII: “Tuxedo Junction”

(See my other Music related posts) – The song “Tuxedo Junction” was written by Erskine Hawkins, Bill Johnson, Julian Dash with lyrics by Buddy Feyne. It was first performed by the college dance band Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra in the late 1930s.

In February of 1940, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra recorded the song and it hit #1 on Billboard. While this wasn’t WWII yet for the US, the war had been going on for nearly six months in Europe.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Observations on SciFi, Books, Space Exploration, Robotics, and Productivity