Friday, October 21, 2005
Right here in little ol' Nebraska, in a small town right in the middle of the state, stood the North Platte Canteen. During World War II, troop trains from all over the country went through North Platte every single day. And every single day, they would stop at the Canteen for a short time - usually no longer than 10-15 minutes - and disembark. There they found something they did not expect...
Food. Smiles. Thank you's. Birthday cakes. Hot cups of coffee. Warm sandwiches. Music. Pretty girls to dance with. Popcorn balls. Magazines. Women that reminded them of sisters, wives, girlfriends...mothers.
Bob Greene wrote a fabulous book called Once Upon A Town about this remarkable place. It was so remarkable, in fact, that many a World War II soldier would talk about the Canteen to other soldiers and more often than not would get an enthusiastic, "I've been there! It was wonderful" Years later, when Greene found these veterans and interviewed them about the Canteen, they choked up, tears coming to their eyes, as they recalled the overwhelming kindness shown to them by those small-town Nebraskans.
It's a book that makes you feel good and puts you right back into the 1940's. But more importantly, it shares the story of people willing to sacrifice their own comforts for others...for those defending their country.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
One of the newest magazines on World War II, America in World War II is a wonderful treasure.
With only three issues out so far and the fourth to be released soon, this magazine captures the very essence of being an American during the war.
What I enjoy so much about this magazine is its personal feel. First-hand accounts of the war - from soldiers, nurses, bomb plant workers, farmers, and everyone in between - brings the war home. Photographs, diary excerpts, and photo essays bring this period to life in every aspect.
There are also wonderful ads from the time period - and articles on the ordinary things in life. For example, the premiere issue discussed a new form of bread spread that looked like butter, but was really what we now know as margarine. It even came with a little capsule of yellow food coloring to make it look yellow instead of the bland, white, lard-like substance you saw when opening the package.
Movie and book reviews are also included.
Unique in that it doesn't solely focus on the battlefields of World War II, America in World War II is a must-have for any WWII enthusiast. In fact, I just ordered my subscription this weekend. I encourage you to do the same!
For more information, go to www.americainwwii.com
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Welcome to "The Best of World War II" - a resource for those who have an interest in World War II history. On this blog, I hope to introduce you to some new and old resources on the war, reviews of World War II movies, books, magazines, and even websites.
Why Did I Start This Blog?
It's been nearly 5 years now since I completed my MA in History. For my thesis, I focused on the German POW camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, during World War II. Since I had plenty of wonderful archival sources to work with, I became immersed in the time period. I'd already had an interest in World War II before this - I credit my father and my brothers with that love - and my research only deepened my interest.
I've also started an inspirational World War II novel and have a three-book series in the works. Late this October, I'll have an article published in Nebraska History on an aspect of the POW camp in Fort Robinson. I'm slowly gathering a nice collection of research books, but as we all know, World War II is a vast topic.
It was a war that is still very much in people's memories - young and old alike. The Holocaust will forever remain an important aspect of this war, as it should be, as we struggle to understand why such a horrific act could happen in the "civilized" twentieth century. Veterans still cry when they dig deep into their memories and recall the days of hell they endured. Movies and books - both fiction and non-fiction - continue to be produced in an effort to understand this global event.
"The Best of World War II" is my humble contribution.