Intimate reflections from one of postwar Germany’s most admired novelists (Winterspelt, 1978, etc.) on life under Hitler and, in the act of deserting an army at war, his own profound emancipation.
Though controversial when first published in Germany in 1952 (the German government has never formally pardoned Wehrmacht deserters), current readers may wonder what fascination remains in ruminations on the Third Reich by a writer who, while a giant by his countrymen’s standards, had very little work circulated in English. Hulse’s foreword effectively piques curiosity, however, noting that Andersch’s force as a stylist is what transcends an undercurrent of compromise—he divorced his Jewish wife at her peril in 1943—that dogged even an admiring biographer. Andersch glosses over that incident but not his father’s (a WWI hero) Nazi connections as instrumental in getting him out of the Dachau concentration camp after being arrested as a Communist Party organizer in 1933. Though fluent in reflection on Communism’s futile agenda, Andersch would not forget the Nazis who “made the struggle of my youth meaningless and made an introvert of me.” Called into service twice during the war, Andersch finds himself an infantryman in Italy in 1944 with an almost comic-opera opportunity to desert. Therein lies, of course, a moral dilemma, resolved with the author’s achieving a conviction that no human being should be beholden to any system that requires following all orders without question. “All I had was the aesthetics of my art and my private life,” he writes, “and these they destroyed by calling me up. Take up arms—for them? Even to entertain the notion was an absurdity.” But persuade others to desert as well? “No,” says Andersch with searing finality, “I did not love my comrades in arms.”
A small gem: still brilliantly alive and relevant.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)