Author: Pao-Pei Alfonso

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
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Published: October 23, 2011 (first published 1960)
William L. Shirer (February 23, 1904 – December 28, 1993) was a journalist and war correspondent. This book is a combination of Shirer's personal experiences as a correspondent in Nazi Germany, as well as a collection of memos, letters, and journal entries from the people involved in the rise and fall of the Third Reich.

It took me a couple of weeks to read through this book, the contents were just both riveting and at the same time so hard to stomach. It is a very engrossing book, and I will highly recommend it if you want to understand what the Third Reich was and what led to its rise and fall.

Shirer did a great job of documenting not just the events that he witnessed first hand as a journalist during that time, but also compiling memos, journal entries, letters, papers, and other documents that were not destroyed during the fall of the Third Reich. He also included portions of transcripts and other eyewitness accounts. This is a very robust book that is also quite easy to read, even for people who are not history buffs (like me). It's remarkable how Shirer was able to establish the historical and cultural context that led to the rise of Nazi Germany and Hitler.

Just a side note, it helped a lot that I purchased the Kindle version because the X-Ray feature came super handy for this book. There were a lot of names, dates, and places involved and it can be a bit challenging to keep track of them all.

The way that Shirer laid out the context in such an accessible language helped me understand how a nation as great and cultured as Germany could possibly come under the thrall of a madman such as Adolf Hitler. Shirer described the unfolding of events not just in terms of what happened in politics or the government, but also in terms of how society itself changed during this time. How it affected the academe, the church, the family. How it affected arts and culture. How it affected the economy. How the nation somehow found itself in a state of complicity to this gangster government's atrocities.

I had to stop reading the book once in a while because it really weighs on you. I got nightmares from reading it, and not just the parts about their atrocities but also the parts about how their propaganda machine was so destructively efficient.

The book is an authoritative account that takes the readers through the unfolding horrors of Nazi Germany. I highly recommend it. This wasn't required reading during my high school or college days, but I think it really should be.

Children of Nazis: The Sons and Daughters of Himmler, Göring, Höss, Mengele, and Others— Living with a Father’s Monstrous Legacy

Children of Nazis: The Sons and Daughters of Himmler, Göring, Höss, Mengele, and Others— Living with a Father’s Monstrous Legacy
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Published: February 6, 2018
In 1940, the German sons and daughters of great Nazi dignitaries Himmler, Göring, Hess, Frank, Bormann, Speer, and Mengele were children of privilege at four, five, or ten years old, surrounded by affectionate, all-powerful parents. Although innocent and unaware of what was happening at the time, they eventually discovered the extent of their father’s occupations: These men—their fathers who were capable of loving their children and receiving love in return—were leaders of the Third Reich,…

Here's something I've always wondered about. These men who played such a big role in Hitler's Nazi Germany, they were family men too. What happened to their families after the war? I bought this book since it popped up on my recommended reading list. Overall, I thought that it was a bit too thin, not too scholarly. The author did write in the introduction that she was only able to conduct one interview, and based the rest of her work on existing interviews. Given the timeframe, that's acceptable, but one comes away from reading this book feeling like it's a little too thin on the historical details and even the insights on the matter. It's not very scholarly. It reads a bit too anecdotal and very short, as if the writer had little material to work with and didn't want to stretch the book out unnecessarily.

That being said, this book is a nice, easy read if you want to learn about how the children of Himmler, Goring, Hoss, Mengele, Bormann, and others dealt with the legacy of being children of war criminals. Majority of them were very young during the years of the holocaust, some don't even remember their fathers, but the long shadow that they cast in their lives is undeniable.

I find it very surprising that many of these men provided happy homes for their children. I suppose that they really do not consider what they did during the Third Reich as immoral, but rather as essential to their service for their fuehrer. They went about their day, bringing pain and death to people (many of them are as young as their own children), they filled up their homes with items looted from other people's homes, and yet they fail to grasp how immoral that is.

This book, while far from being a satisfying read, offers enough usable insight on the subject.

Shot in the Dark

Shot in the Dark
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Clare Cosi returns! A smartphone dating app turns the Village Blend into a top meeting spot for its users. It's great for the business until someone gets murdered.

Cozy mysteries are quite new to me. I've only discovered this through my Goodreads feed (where I get a lot of great recommendations from what my friends are currently reading). Full disclosure, I binge-read all of Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mysteries in a matter of days earlier this year. I was really excited for this new addition. I really like this series because of the coffee references, and I love that there's much emphasis on where the beans are sourced and how different factors affect how coffee tastes. I liked the details. There's also a lot of food references, so reading a Cleo Coyle book always makes me hungry after, haha.

This new book has less coffee and food references compared to previous books. I really miss that. Still, it's a pretty good mystery. Somehow the character of Clare Cosi straddles that fine line between justifiably curious and annoyingly nosy. The clues, the police interaction are all plausible. I've always liked the strong female characters of this series but I love how Esther Best's character shone in this story. The poems in the slam poetry session for horrible hookup stories were funny. The story also finds the sweet spot between being comfortable with using technology and understanding how this isn't a replacement for real-life relationships. Of course, there's the usual annoyances with Matteo's juvenile ways, which I had hoped would be toned down a bit. Not much interaction with Mike Quinn on this book, but that's alright. It's actually one of the things I like about the book. There's not much of that cloying, overly-romanticized, wishy-washy love story. They're both busy with their careers, they both try to balance their responsibilities and personal lives. I actually like how the series show the day-to-day challenges Clare Cosi face while managing Village Blend, and little tidbits about how she navigates relationships with suppliers, customers, and even her coffee broker.

Cleo Coyle succeeded in making a nice little world in this series, and despite the fewer coffee and food references on this installment, I still enjoyed it a lot.

Purple!

I love including little drawings in my journals, but I don’t always have time to do that. Not that I mind, I find it beautiful to look at pages and pages of just words, especially since this really shows off the beauty of ink on paper, which is what got me into using fountain pens in the first place. Pages and pages of just letters show off how much fountain pen ink looks like painted-on characters. I love this combination, which is in my EDC for this month. Lamy Dark Lilac (fine nib) and Pilot Iroshizuku Edo Murasaki. Perfection.

Horrors

I’ve had a lot of time to read lately because I’ve been sick with the flu and I’m forced to stay in bed. I’ve been reading a lot about the Holocaust, hence this journal entry I wrote today. It’s about how important it is for us to learn the hard lessons of history so that we don’t repeat them.

Honestly, the books I read give me nightmares about that dark chapter in history, but I think it’s important to not be desensitized about it. It’s important to educate ourselves about what led to atrocities of such scale and to gain some wisdom about it. I believe now more than ever that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.