trackback thursday: bombardment of Ellwood

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Map of Ellwood/ Ellwood Offshore Oil Field showing location of well damaged during 1942 attack. Map credit: wikipedia.com

Just two-and-a-half months after Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), the first attack on the U.S. mainland happened on February 23, 1942.

The Bombardment of Ellwood was a naval attack when a Japanese submarine targeted an oil refinery near Santa  Barbara, California. An oiler named G. Brown later told reporters that the enemy submarine looked so big to him he thought it must be a destroyer, until he realized that just one gun was firing.

Although there was minimal damage, this attack was key in triggering West Coast invasion scare and influenced the decision to intern Japanese-Americans.

I have to admit that there is so much WWII history that is beyond my personal knowledge bank, and it’s something I absolutely love to learn more and more about.

What’s your favorite period of history?

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trackback thursday: all-American bombing raid on Germany

Consolidated B-24 "Liberator"

Photo courtesy from the 8th Air Force History Office, found here

On January 27, 1943, the United States 8th Air Force conduced the first all-American bombing raid on Germany.

As 55 bombers targeted Wilhelmshaven, Germany, they dropped 137 tons of bombs on warehouses and industrial plants, losing three aircraft and shooting down 22 German fighters.

The 8th Air Force was activated in February 1942 as a heavy bomber force based in England. Commanded at the time by Brig. Gen. Newton Longfellow, the 8th Air Force was amazingly effective and accurate in bombing warehouses and factories in this first air attack against the Axis power.

The success of this first raid encouraged U.S. military planners to begin regular daylight bombing raids. However, these raids resulted in high casualty rates for the American soldiers involved.

 

 

trackback thursday: first presidential library

unknownNovember 19, 1939: construction of the first presidential library began.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone next to his home in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt actually donated the land, but public donations funded the library building which was dedicated on June 30, 1941.

When President FDR first proposed the idea of building a library to house his papers and memorabilia, some thought he was just interested in constructing a monument to himself. FDR, however, saw the library as a way to preserve and provide public access to the records of his presidency. He had an “open government” attitude, believing that the people of the USA were entitled to a good look at how their government was working, even at the executive level.

Seems like we should go back to the “good ‘ole days” sometimes, huh? But then, who knows if they were were the good ‘ole days.

The library contains not only FDR’s collections of personal and family papers, but manuscripts related to his career at the state and national level, pictures, sound and motion picture recordings, books, and more. It even has his vast collection of ship models, prints and paintings, gifts from the American people, and family items.

At the cornerstone laying ceremony for the library, Roosevelt said:

“Of the papers which will come to rest here I personally attach less importance to the documents of those who have occupied high public or private office, than I do the spontaneous letters which have come to me and my family and my associates from men, from women, and from children in every part of the United States, telling me of their conditions and problems, and giving me their opinions.”

Talk about a pretty cool guy, am I right?

Have you visited it before? If you’re in the neighborhood, you should check it out– here’s the LINK to the library’s website.

 

“between shades of gray” book review

imageI previously read Salt to the Sea and decided I needed more Ruta Sepetys in my life. I feel behind the times this year, catching up on so much YA that I missed out on in the last couple of years. But this book…oh, this book.

While I enjoyed from salt to the seaBetween Shades of Gray is more my style. With only one POV and Lina as the narrator– I connected with it so much more.

Here is the Goodreads description:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

When I read Ruta Sepetys’ books, I feel as though I’m being plunged into areas of history I previously had no knowledge of. I suppose when we learn things ins school, or even on our own time, we focus so much on what is closest to us. With WWII, I am very aware of the American part, and more of Britain and the Western European front than anything else. But Ruta Sepetys has introduced me to something I hadn’t thought of in so long, and that is what happened to so many others.

This book pulled on my heart and opened my eyes to Lena’s world. I wanted, more than anything while reading, to see her drawings. While Septeys describes everything so vividly, I kept hoping to flip the page and find an illustration. I know that many times this is the beauty of novels, that we can see without seeing, but this was an exception where I wanted it in front of me so badly. I wanted to see the pain in her charcoals, and her twisted views like Munch.

I want to call this book beautiful, but in fact the images that come to mind are anything but your standard “beautiful.” They are heart breaking, and stomach churning, and mind blowing– as they should be.

If you have yet to read this book, or any of Ruta Septeys books, might I suggest changing that– especially if you are a lover of YA historical fiction.

 

“the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society” review

I am a sucker when it comes to books being written in an un-traditional way. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows is one of those books, and I have fallen in love with it. Fallen hard.

Once again I’m late to the game with this book. Released in 2008, it has been on my TBR list for quite some time. Now that I finally read/finished it, I want to do so again. And again. And again.

Here is the Goodreads description:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Since it is presented in the form of letters, all the characters get to present their own voice, matched against Juliet’s descriptions and observations. Guernsey not only comes to life for the MC, but feels like home to any reader as the book progresses.

Not without twists, you find yourself expecting one outcome with Juliet’s life and meeting another that is even more befitting.

My friends, since this book is eight years old, I was tempted to not share a small review, but I couldn’t help myself. I honestly knew nothing of the occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII, and now all I want to do is study it more.

If you love Historical Fiction, and have not read this one yet, move it to the top of your TBR list. You won’t regret it.