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By nightfall, Mulan had reached the Yellow River. She camped there, beside the river. Even though she was excited at the prospect of her adventure, she was also filled with loneliness. She thought of her father and mother. She imagined them looking for her in the early morning. In her mind's eye, she could see them looking for her throught the farmstead. She could hear her mother calling her name. They would be perplexed by her absence. "What will they think when they find money missing from the ouse purse? Will they think me an unworthy daughter?" she asked herself. The thought brought a tear to her eye. She listened to the night noises - frogs croaking, leaves rustling in the breeze, the river's sighs, owls hooting. She saw a shooting star.
"A good omen," she thought...(From Mulan, the Woman General, at pg. 139)
Among the lavish illustratiions in the book is the reproduction of an "eighteenth-century painting showing aristocratic ladies playing Go," a game of skill and chance, at p. 143.
The Cure at Troy A version of Sophocles's Philoctetes
By Seamus Heaney
Neoptolemus: What are the orders?
Odysseus: You are going to have to work out some way
Of deceiving Philoctetes with a story.
He'll ask who you are and where you're from
And you'll say, Achilles' son, which will be true.
And that you're on your voyage back from Troy,
Heading home in a rage against the Greeks.
...Without you, Troy cannot be taken.
We need you.
To commandeer the bow from Philoctetes.
And always remember this:
you are the only one
That can approach him. You weren't sworn in
On the first expedition, you didn't sail
Under oath to anybody. Your slate is clean.
But if I was challenged, I could not deny
Any of that. And if he recognized me
And had his bow with him, I would be dead.
And you'd be dead for associating with me.
So the trick you're going to have to turn is this:
Sweet talk him and relieve him
Of a bow and arrows that are actually miraculous.
But, of course, son, I know what you are like.
I know this goes against the grain
And you hate it. You're a very honest lad,
But all the same: even you must enjoy
Coming out on top.
Do it my way, this once.
All right, you'll be ashamed
but that won't last.
And once you're over it, you'll have the rest of your life
To be good and true and incorruptible.
Neoptolemus: I hate hearing you say this
and hate more
The thought of having to do it.
It goes against
All I was ever brought up to believe.
It's really low behavior.
Why could we not
Go at him, man to man? If he's so badly lamed
He'd never be a match for two of us.
We're Greeks, so, all right, we do our duty.
I don't think I could bear being called a traitor.
But in all honesty I have to say
I'd rather fail and keep my self-respect
Than win by cheating.
Cup of Gold A Life of Sir Henry Morgan,
Occasional Reference to History
By John Steinbeck
"Have you considered these ancient wars?" Henry asked. "I have been reading of Alexander and Xenophon and Caesar in their wars. And the thought is on me that battle and tactics - that is, successful tactics - are nothing more than a glorified trickery. The force is necessary, and the arms, of course; but the war is really won by the man who sits back, like one cheating at cards, and confounds the enemy with his trickery. Have you considered that, sir? Any one who can guess the minds of ordinary generals, as I can guess the minds of slaves, can win battles. Such a man would have only to shun what was expected of him. Isn't that the secret of tactics, sir?" (From Chapter Two at p. 69)
In those days we came to hear of many other countries that had never figured in our lives before. It was a rapid education, and many of us are still confused. We knew that our Christians were sometimes called 'Greeks', although we often called them 'dogs' or 'infidels', but in a manner that was a formality, or said with a smile, just as were their deprecatory terms for us. They would call us 'Turks' in order to insult us, at the time when we called ourselves 'Ottomans' or 'Osmanlis'. Later on it turned out that we really are 'Turks', and we bcame proud of it, as one does of new boots that are uncomfortable at first, but then settle into the feet and look exceedingly smart. Be that as it may, one day we discovered that there actually existed a country called 'Greece' that wanted to own this place, and do away with us, and take away our land. We knew of Russians before, because of other wars, but who were these Italians? Who were these other Frankish people? Suddenly we heard of people called 'German', and people called 'French', and of a place called Britain that had governed half the world without us knowing of it, but it was never explained to us why they had chosen to come and bring us hardship, starvation, bloodshed and lamentation, why they played with us and martyred our tranquility.
I blame these Frankish peoples, and I blame potentates and pashas whose names I will probably never know, and I blame men of God of both faiths, and I blame all those who gave their soldiers permission to behave like wolves and told them that it was necessary and noble. Because of what I accidentally did to my son Karatavuk, I was in my own small way one of these wolves, and I am now burned up by shame. In the long years of those wars here were too many who learned how to make their hearts boil with hatred, how to betray their neighbours, how to violate women, how to steal and dispossess, how to call upon God when they did the Devil's work, how to enrage and embitter themselves, and how to commit outrages even against children. Much of what was done was simply in revenge for identical atrocities, but I tell you now that even if guilt were a coat of sable, and the ground were deep in snow, I would rather freeze than wear it.
But I do not blame merely myself, or the powerful, or my fellow Anatolians, or the savage Greeks. I also blame mischance. Destiny caresses the few, but molests the many, and finally every sheep will hang by its own foot on the butcher's hook, just as every grain of wheat arrives at the millstone, no matter where it grew. (From Part I, The Prologue of Iskander the Potter, at pgs. 4-5)
The New Yorker
Magazine Archived on DVD
The Master Plan For the new terrorists of jihad,
Al Qaeda is just the beginning.
By Lawrence Wright
Fouad Hussein is a radical Jordanian journalist who met Zarqawi and Maqdisi in 1996, when, he writes, "a career of trouble led me to Suwaqah Prison." He had published a series of articles criticizing the Jordanian government, and, in response, the authorities locked him up for a month. Since Zarqawi and Maqdisi were being held at the same jail, Hussein sought out interviews with them; eventually Zarqawi served him tea while Maqdisi talked politics. Zarqawi mentioned that he had been in solitary confinement for more than eight months and had lost his toenails as a result of being tortured. The next week, Zarqawi was sent to solitary again, and his followers staged a riot. Hussein became the negotiator between the prisoners and the warden, who relented - an episode that cemented Hussein's standing among the radical Islamists.
In 2005, Hussein produced what is perhaps the most definitive outline of Al Qaeda's master plan: a book titled Al Zarqawi: The Second Generation of Al Qaeda. Although it is largely a favorable biography of Zarqawi and his movement, Hussein incorporates the insights of other Al Qaeda members - notably Saif-al-Adl, the security chief.
It is chilling to read this work and realize how closely recent events seem to be hewing to Al Qaeda's forecasts. Based on interviews with Zarqawi and Adl, Hussein claims that dragging Iran into conflict with the United States is key to Al Qaeda's strategy. Expanding the area of conflict in the Middle East will cause the U.S. to overextend its forces. According to Hussein, Al Qaeda believes that Iran expects to be attacked by the U.S., because of its interest in building a nuclear weapon. "Accordingly, Iran is preparing to retaliate for or abort this strike by means of using powerful cards in its hand," he writes. These tactics include targeting oil installations in the Persian Gulf, which could cut off sixty per cent of the world's oil supplies, destabilizing Western economies. (emphasis added) (-- pgs. 56-57)
A British Army commander has described the withdrawal of troops from central Basra as "an important step". About 550 soldiers left Basra Palace on Sunday to join 5,000 UK troops based at the city's airport. Lt Col Patrick Sanders, commanding officer of ]4 Rifles Battle Group, who planned the withdrawal, said it was "nonsense" to suggest it was a defeat. ... He said: "The militias ... have thrown just about everything they've got at us. .... "They've been unable to engage us in open fighting. We've been able to patrol around the city, at will, on foot, and in vehicles, any place or time of our choosing. It's been dangerous, and the level of violence that we've been engaged in and the casualties we've suffered are testament to that. But the notion that this is a defeat is nonsense. The prime minister set out some time ago... that by late summer we'd be withdrawing from the palace and we've stuck to that timetable."
.. Lt Col Sanders also said the troops were in a safer position at Basra Airport than in the palace base, which was hit by mortar and rocket fire 750 times in one month. ... "There's no doubt the atmosphere here at the airport is slightly lighter than it was down in Basra Palace. "For reasons of Iraqi pride they'd be loathe to call us [back] in unless it was absolutely necessary and that's very encouraging. "But if it does become necessary, either because they request it or perhaps because the violence against us resumes, then we will go back into Basra."
A second key British general has criticised US post-war policy in Iraq. Maj Gen Tim Cross, who was the most senior UK officer involved in post-war planning, told the Sunday Mirror US policy was "fatally flawed." Maj Gen Cross said: "We were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the post-war plan." His comments came after Gen Sir Mike Jackson, head of the Army during the invasion, told the Daily Telegraph US policy was "intellectually bankrupt."
... Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the retired generals' criticisms re-enforced the case for a full inquiry into the war and its consequences, and called for a report to be made to parliament in October. (emphasis added)
Another song we'd very much like to hear:
The Very Best of the Pogues
Featuring Iraqi insurgents' favorite,
.. He fought the champ in Pittsburgh
And he slashed him to the ground
He took on Tiny Tartanella
And it only went one round
He never had no time for reds
For drink or dice or whores
And he never threw a fight
Unless the fight was right
So they sent him to the war
Fare the well gone away
There's nothing left to say
With a slainte Joe and Erin go
My love's in Amerikay
The calling of the rosary
Spanish winde from far away
I'm a free born man of the USA
This morning on the harbour
When I said goodbye to you
I remember how I swore
That I'd come back to you one day
And as the sunset came to meet
The evening on the hill
I told you I'd always love
I always did and I always will[/i]
Fare thee well gone away
There's nothing left to say
'cept to say adieu
To your eyes as blue
As the water in the bay
... I'm a free born man of the USA!
Compare U.S. treatment of Iraq vets to this British initiative:
Bryn Parry Cartoonist turned war heroes' champion
Bryn Parry is best known as the creator of Mrs Aga, Wocker Cocker and other cuddly countryside caricatures that adorn aprons, mugs and mouse mats. But he hasn't picked up a paintbrush since July, when his life was turned upside down by Help for Heroes, the charity he founded with his wife, Emma. In eight dizzying weeks, they have raised £1 million twards a swimming pool and gym at Headley Court, Surrey, the services' rehabilitation centre. The Big Battlefield Bike Ride is over-subscribed, footballer Ronaldo and Jeremy Clarkson sport Help for Heroes wristbands, and The Sun, businesses and the public have weighed in, as has COUNTRY LIFE. Plans include the Great British Hero Ride from Blackheath to the Cenotaph on June 1, and even a national pub quiz.
... 'In between squirting Champagne at the (Macmillan Cancer cycling fundraiser) finish, Emma suggested: "Why don't we do something ourselves, for the wounded?" The trigger was a visit to Selly Oak Hospital, and a ward with 40 young soldiers lying on top of their sheets, their stumps and shrapnel wounds exposed.
'I defy anyone not to have been moved. The men were so determined and modest. They have been in a place where people want to kill them in a war of which everyone disapproves. The least we can do is look after them when they come home.'
The Parrys' only son, Tom, 22, passes out of Sandhurst next summer. His mother dreads it, 'but it's in his genes.' Bryn Parry's father, a colonel in the Gurkhas, was killed on exercise in Germany. Bryn joined the Green Jackets, with the idea of being a war artist - 'in the style of Terence Cuneo.' He caricatured fellow soldiers, selling the results for a fiver, and produced the regiment's Christmas card, turning 50 into limited edition prints. (-- p. 80)
Editor's Note: PokerPulse would be pleased to post links to similar campaigns on behalf of soldiers. Please send any we've missed to email@example.com.
New Delhi: US President George Bush has endorsed the recommendations of General Petraeus on troop withdrawal in Iraq, days after the American top General and US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, gave back-to-back testimonies in the Senate, Bush has announced a troop cut. (emphasis added)
Petreaus had said that the situation is improving and the troop surge in January helped. He had suggested that 30, 000 troops could be pulled back in a phased manner. In a television address, Bush also said that America's decision to withdraw troops was a sure sign of progress in Iraq. The troops in Iraq will be reduced by Christmas, and over 5,000 will return home. “It will soon be possible to bring home an army combat brigade. For a total force reduction a 5,700b troops by Christmas. And he expects by July, we will be able to reduce our troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15,” said Bush.
For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust movement of active-duty US military personnel has publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete version of this report will appear Thursday in the print and online editions of The Nation.)
After appearing only seven weeks ago on the Internet, the Appeal for Redress, brainchild of 29-year-old Navy seaman Jonathan Hutto, has already been signed by nearly 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, including dozens of officers--most of whom are on active duty. Not since 1969, when some 1,300 active-duty military personnel signed an open letter in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has there been such a dramatic barometer of rising military dissent.
Interviews with two dozen signers of the Appeal reveal a mix of motives for opposing the war: ideological, practical, strategic and moral. But all those interviewed agree that it is time to start withdrawing the troops. Coming from an all-volunteer military, the Appeal was called "unprecedented" by Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.
... The mood in general among the American troops in Pyongyang just then was a combination of optimism and sheer exhaustion, emotional as well as physical. The Korean War had begun in June, when Soviet-allied North Korea invaded American -allied South Korea. The Communists wanted to re-unite the country, partitioned since the Japanese surrender, under North Korean priminister Kim Il Sung. During the first phase of the war, they had gained victory after victory over weak and ill-prepared American and South Korean forces. But then mire and better American troops arrived, and in September, MacArthur had pulled off a brilliant stroke at Inchon, landing his forces behind the North Korean lines to retake the South Korean capital of Seoul. With that, the North Korean forces had unraveled. That had been a great success for MacArthur, perhaps the greatest triumph of a storied career, all the more so because he had pulled it off against the opposition of much of Washington.
Now (October, 1950) betting pools were being set up among the soldiers in Pyongyang on when they would ship out. For some of the newest men, the replacements, who had only heard tales about how hard the fighting had been from the Pusan Perimeter, in southeast Korea, to Pyongyang, there was relief that the worst of it was past. A young lieutenant named Ben Boyd, from Claremore, Oklahoma, who had joined the Cav (U.S. First Cavalry Division) in Pyongyang, was given a platoon in Baker Company of the First Battalion. Boyd, who had graduated from West Point only four years before, wanted this command badly, but he was made nervous by its recent history. "Lieutenant, do you know who you are in this platoon?" one of the senior officers had asked. No, Boyd answered. "Well, Leiutenant, just so you don't get too cocky, you're the 13th platton leader this unit has had since it's been in Korea." Boyd suddenly decided he didn't feel cocky at all. (-- p. 364)
... (In the internal staff struggles over the future of Japanese democracy, Charles A.) Willoughby (MacArthur's principal intelligence man) was an unusually passionate player, trying to rid headquarters of the New Deal liberals whom he tended to see as fellow travelers or Communists. He was also always on the alert for any journalistic transgression against either the occupation or MacArthur personally. "Willoughby was absolutely convinced that because I was doing a good deal of original reporting on those divisions, reporting what neither he nor MacArthur liked, that I was a Communist," said Joseph Fromm, of U.S. News & World Report. "I remember one day he called me for a special one-on-one meeting, and it was a truly crazed scene. All he wanted to do was talk about Lenin and Marx, man-to-man, like we both knew what the game was, he the anti-Communist and the man of the law and me, in his mind, the Communist and thus the outlaw, and we would be equals in this sparring, sophisticates about it, men of the world, but in the end his view of Communism would trump mine." Years later, Fromm got hold of his security file through the Freedom of Information Act. What stunned him was the amount of garbage in it about him, all of it collected by Willoughby and his people in the G-2 section, reams and reams of it, much of it incredibly inaccurate, "the kind of thing that could ruin a person's career if it was taken seriously.
... the key to the importance of Willoughby was not his own self-evident inadequacies; it was that he represented the deepest kind of psychological weakness in the talented, flawed man he served - the need to have someone who agreed with him at all times and flattered him constantly. "MacArthur did not want the Chinese to enter the war in Korea. Anything MacArthur wanted, Willoughby produced intelligence for...In this case Willoughby falsified the intelligence reports...He should have gone to jail," said Lieutenant Colonel John Chiles, 10th Corpos G-3, or chief of operations. (-- p. 371)
... Willoughby did all he could to minimize the overwhelming evidence that the Chinese had been the ones who struck the ROKs and the Eighth Cavalry near Unsan. A good many men who fought there came to believe that his refusal to act quickly on the evidence presented by the first captured Chinese prisoners and his unwillingness to add a serious note of caution to his intelligence briefings were directly responsible for the devastation inflicted on not just the Cav at Unsan but upon the Eighth Army soon after for the loss of so many buddies, and, in some cases, for their own long tours in Chinese and Korean prisons. To them, what he represented came perilously close to evil, someone who blustered about the dangers of Communism and the Chinese, but then ended up making their work easier by setting the U.N. forces up for that great ambush. He was, thought Bill Train, a bright, young, low-level G-3 (or operations) staff officer who fought against Willoughby's certitudes in those critical weeks, "a four-flusher - someone who made it seem like he knew what he was doing - but in the end what he produced was absolutely worthless; there was nothing there at all. Nothing. He got everything wrong! Everything! What he was doing in those days was fighting against the truth, trying to keep it from going from lower levels to higher ones, where it would have to be acted on." (-- p. 372)
*The Coldest Winter:
America and the Korean War
By David Halberstam
How we'll miss this excellent journalist, who was killed April 23/07 in the Bay Area. More on the fatal car crash here.
The Devil's Desciples Hitler's Inner Circle
By Anthony Read
Hacha's surprise move was a stroke of luck for Hitler, and he grabbed it eagerly. With Goring away, he conferred with Goebbels, Ribbentrop and Keitel, none of whom was likely to contradict him, and told them he had decided to march in and smash the rump Czech state in five days' time. The two ministers were jubilant. 'Our frontiers will stretch to the Carpathians,' Geobbels crowed. 'The Fuhrer shouts for joy. This game is a dead certainty.' The invasion would take place on the Ides of March (15 March), the date Keitel had privately 'put his money on', having noted that since 1933 this had always been the date on which Hitler had chosen to act. 'Was it always coincidence,' he wondered, or was it superstition: I am inclined to believe the latter for Hitler himself often referred to it.' (footnotes omitted) (From 'I'll Cook Them a Stew that They'll Choke On', at p. 537)
When they learned of Hitler's survival, the conspirators panicked. Unfortunately for them, the Gauleiter of Berlin did not. Goebbels was in his ministry study talking to Funk and Speer about the problems of implementing his total war provisions when he received a telephone call from Otto Dietrich at Fuhrer Headquarters informing him of the failed assassination attempt. He said later that he had felt 'as though the ground beneath his feet was quaking,' but after being assured that Hitler was not seriously hurt, he ate lunch normally if somewhat more quietly than usual, and then took an afternoon nap. He was woken about an hour later, to be presented with a terse statement from Fuhrer Headquarters, supposedly dictated by Hitler himself, to be broadcast at once. Unhappy with the wording, and perhaps even wanting to hedge his bets until he knew exactly what was happening, Goebbels held on to the statement and carried on with his routine work. It was around 5 p.m. before he was galvanixed into action by a phone call from Hitler himself, telling him that a full-scale military putsch was under way throughout the Reich. (From Last Thrown of the Dice, p. 855)
Kaganovich met Khrushchev during the February 1917 Revolution in the Ukrainian mining town of Yuzovka. Despite a flirtation with Trotskyism, Khrushchev's patrons were unbeatable: 'Kaganovich liked me very much,' he recalled. So did both Nadya ('my lottery ticket,' said Khrushchev) and Stalin himself. Resembling a cannonball more than a whirlwind, Khrushchev's bright porcine eyes, chunky physique and toothy smile with its golden teeth, exuded primitive coarseness and Promethean energy but camouflaged his cunning. As the capital's First Secretary, he drove the transofrmation of 'Stalinist-Moscow'; by a huge building programme, the destruction of old churches, and the creation of the Metro, he entered the elite. Already a regular at o, this pitiless, ambitious believer regarded himself as Stalin's 'son'. Born in 1894, son of a peasant miner, this meteoric bumpkin became Stalin's 'pet'. (From Chapter 14, The Dwarf Rises; Casanova Falls, pgs. 172-173)
Europe in early 1939 was, in Stalin's own words, a 'poker game' with three players, in which each hoped to persuade the other two to destroy one another and leave the third to take the winnings. The three players were the Fascists of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, the Capitalists of Neville Chamberlain's Britain allied with Daladier's France - and the Bolsheviks. Though the Georgian admired the flamboyant brutality of the Austrian, he appreciated the danger of a resurgent Germany militarily, and the hostility of Fascism. (From The Great Game: Hitler and Stalin, 1939-1941, p. 308)
'You'll have to agree, Rokossovsky,' added Molotov. 'Agree - that's all there is to it!' The general was summoned back into the study:
'So which is better?' asked Stalin.
'Two,' answered Rokossovsky. Silence descended until Stalin asked:
'Hitler's like a gambler staking his last coin!' exulted Stalin.
'Germany will try to make peace with Churchill and Roosevelt.,' said Molotov.
'Right,' said Stalin, 'but Roosevelt and Churchill won't agree.' Then the Poles threw a spanner into the works of the Grand Alliance. (From War: The Triumphant Genius, 1942-1945, p. 484)
... In the limousine out to Kuntsevo, the Chinese interpreter invited Stalin to visit Mao.
'Swallow your words!' Mao hissed in Chinese to the interpreter. 'Don't invite him!' Neither of the titans spoke for the entire thirty-minute drive. When Stalin invited Mao to dance to his gramophone, a singular honour for a visiting leader, he refused. It did not matter: the game of poker was over. While reserving for himself the supreme priesthood of international Communism, Stalin allowed Mao a leading role in Asia.
... No sooner had he arrived to rest than disaster struck in the faraway peninsula. Stalin had withdrawn from the UN to protest against its refusal to recognize Mao's China instead of Taiwan as the legitimate government but President Truman called Stalin's bluff by convening the Security Council to approve UN intervention against North Korea. The Soviet Union could have avoided this but Stalin wrongly inisted on boycotting the session, against Gromyko's advice. 'Stalin for once was guided by emotion,' remembered Gromyko. In September, the powerful US counter-attack at Inchon, under the UN flag, trapped Kim's North Koreans in the south and then shattered their army. Once again, Stalin's testing of American resolve had backfired badly - but the old man simply sighed to Khrushchev that if Kim was defeated, 'So what. Let it be. Let the Americans be our neighbors.' If he did not get what he wanted, Russia would still not intervene. (From The Lame Tiger, 1949-1953, pgs. 620-622)
Goodbye *Little Town Sinners, saints, and chimney-watchers
in a small Ontario town
By Henry Gordon Green
It is Armistice Day again, lad, and the morning is full of flags and sleet and noses red with the wind. Over at the monument where your name is on one of the bronze scrolls which records a second war, there is the usual congregation, most of them shivering and not knowing quite when they should stand or when to talk and when to whisper. Near me, out here on the rim of the crowd, I see one of the mothers you must have known, trying to keep her face brave for still another year.
... I am not thinking of the day you left so much as the day you came to us, your hair pushing your ears out, the sun peeling the freckles from your nose, your suspenders hitched with a nail behind. Your shoes didn't match and your legs were covered with marks. I thought at first they were barbed-wire marks, and then I saw the trouble in your eyes. You would never admit it, but we were pretty sure you had just come from a whipping. We knew what kind of man your uncle was.
You asked our dad, "Need a good man to help in the hay, Henry? For a buck a week and bed and board?"
... "How old are you, Jim?" Dad asked. And you said you were twelve, going on thirteen. I know now that you lied a little about that the same as you did to get into the Army. You were only eleven, a couple of years younger than I was.
... It was a sin the way we let you work that day, but you were determined to make good your boast. You were going to prove that you could work if it killed you. So we put you at the back of the wagon beneath the loader, and thought it was a joke to toss the thistles against your legs and let the hay bury you instead of clearing it away from you.
(A few days later the uncle comes by for a word with Dad)
... "Well now Henry, if you want to keep him, more power to you. But you better let me tell you how to handle him when he gets ugly. No use tryin' to whup it out of him, Henry. Of course you can try if you want, but I could never get any surrender out of him that way. Tell you what you do though - anytime you want to make him knuckle under, just lock him in the dark somewheres!"
Your head jerked up from your pail as if you had been kicked, and when you looked at him your eyes seemed almost as big as those of your cow.
(Predictably, a group of boys one day determined to exploit this revelation).
... They carried you down to the culvert which takes the government ditch under the sideroad. ... There were 30-inch tiles in that culvert, room enough to cram you without any friction. You even had a little elbow-room in there, I suppose. But the devilish part of the plan was they had brought shovels and they were going to seal both ends with earth.
And they did. They told me afterward that you didn't get hysterical; you didn't cry, and except at first, you didn't beg for mercy. But when Dad finally stubmbled onto the adventure and threw the dirt away and took you by the shoulders to pull you into the light again, you shook in his hands like a sick dog. You were sick right after.
... You had begun to cry a little now. "It's my fault," you said. "They would never think of things like that if I wasn't so crazy scared of the dark!"
After we had all had time to calm down and we were walking home with the cool of the night coming down soft on us, you said, "It's awful having to be scared of the dark like that, Henry! I've got to get over that someday!"
... We didn't get too excited over the war news from the other side of the world those days. Europe was always full of trouble, and after all, there wasn't much that we could do about it, was there?
... Even then we thought that men would never be conscripted from the farm. An army still travelled on its stomach, didn't it?
But there came a man to the farm one day who soon set us right on that. "How many men over sixteen are working on this place?" he asked. ... "For a farm this size you're allowed only one beside yourself," my father was told.
... You didn't wait long enough for anyone to have to feel awkward about it. "I'll go," you said.
... On the other side of the Channel was a German ackack emplacement which was finding our planes with uncanny accuracy. There could be only one answer. Jerry must have invented a new anti-aircraft sight. Could a raiding party go over some night, cut the barrel from one of those guns and bring it back to England so Intelligence could have a look at it?
In a moment the Sergeant-Major will read off the names on the scroll over there, lad, and when he comes to yours it will take a little longer because he has to read the letters which now come after it.
The story of how you earned those letters found its way into the papers and has now been tucked away in the official histories, but your bravest deed of all is something which none of those stories will ever mention. Because to those who never knew you it must seem a mere detail that from the moment you volunteered for that raid, you knew it would have to be made on the darkest night possible.
And now there's a channel crossing not too far ahead of me and my fear of the dark is something my getting old can't seem to conquer.
When you see me coming, will you show me a light, lad? (From Chapter Twenty-Six, pgs. 134-140)
Coincidentally, this collection of reminiscences concerns the town of Arthur, Ontario:
In November 1942, the Toronto Star ran a front page headline that read, Arthur Village Gives Sons and Money to Aid the War, recognizing Arthur as the Most Patriotic Village in Canada due to the fact that one out of seven Arthur residents fought in the Second World War. It was the highest ratio in comparsion to villages of comparable size in Canada. By the end of the war, 338 Arthur residents had enlisted, and 25 were killed in action. -- Wikipedia
I remember you saying once how much you liked the men in your regiment in the last war. It was the same with me when I was an internee. I had friends at Tost in every imaginable walk of life, from Calais dock touts upward, and they were one and all the salt of the earth. A patrol of Boy Scouts couldn't have been kinder than they were to me. I was snowed under with obligations. I remember once when I broke the crystal of my watch and seemed likely to have to abandon the thing as a total loss, which would have been a devastating tragedy, one of the fellows gave up the whole afternoon to making a case for it, out of an old tube of tooth paste, while another gave me a bit of string, roughly equivalent in value in camp to a diamond necklace, which I could use as a chain; and a third donated a button, which he could ill spare, to string the string on.
Whenever my bed broke down, somebody always rallied round with wedges. (You drive the wedges in at the end of the planks. Then they don't suddenly shift in the night and let you down with a bump.) When I strained a tendon in my leg, along came Sergeant-Major Fletcher night after night, when he might have been playing darts, to give me massage.
I was so touched by this that I broke into verse on the subject. As follows:
I used to wobble in my walk
Like one who has a jag or bend on;
It caused, of course, a lot of talk,
But really I had strained a tendon.
And just as I was feeling I
Would need a crutch or else a stretcher.
A kindly friend said: 'Why not try
A course of rubs from J. J. Fletcher?'
He gave me massage day by day
Till I grew lissome, lithe and supple,
And no one now is heard to say,
'Avoid that man. He's had a couple.'
And so with gratitude profound
I shout 'Three cheers for good old Fletcher.
He is the man to have around
When legs get out of joint, you betcher.
I'm glad I metcher'.
Silly, of course, but that's how it goes. (From *Performing Flea, pgs. 352-353)
Yes, and there's more:
By P.G. Wodehouse
Money in the Bank
By P.G. Wodehouse
With Foreward and Note by Plum pal W. Townend
I'm so glad you liked Money in the Bank. The only novel, I should imagine, that has ever been written in an internment camp. I did it at a rate of about a page a day in a room with over fifty men playing cards and ping-pong and talking and singing. The first twelve chapters were written in a whirl of ping-pong balls. I suppose on an average morning I would get from fifteen to twenty on the side of the head just as I was searching for the mot juste.
As I was starting Chapter Thiorteen the Library was opened and I was made President. The President of a Camp Library must not be confused with the Librarian. The Librarian does the rough work like handing out books and entering them in a ledger. The President presides. He stimulates ad encourages. I, for instance, used to look in once a day and say "Everything okay?" and go away again. It was amazing how it helped. Giving the Wodehouse Touch, I used to call it.
Being President of the Library, I became entitled to a padded cell all to myself, and I wrote the rest of the book in a peaceful seclusion disturbed only by the sound of musical gentlemen practising trombones, violoncellos, etc., next door, in the interests of the Entertainment Committee and somebody else lecturing on Chaucer or Beowulf (under the auspices of the Committee for Education). All that I know of Beowulf today I owe to these lectures.
After I had finished Money in the Bank, I started a Blandings Castle novel called Full Moon and had done about a third of it when I was released. Ethel then joined me i the country, bringing with her the Jeeves novel called Joy in the Morning, which I had written at Le Touquet during the occupation. (Letter to Bill from Wodehouse from Berlin dated May 11/42, at pgs. 112-113)
Oh, yes, and get this:
By P.G. Wodehouse
I have been plugging away at Uncle Dynamite. I managed to get a hundred pages done while in the clinic, in spite of constant interruptions. I would start writing at nine in the morning and get a paragraph done when the nurse would come in and sluice water all over the floor. Then the concierge arrived with the morning paper, then the nurse with bread for lunch, then another nurse with wine, then a doctor and finally a couple of Inspecteurs. All the Inspecteurs were very interested in my writing. It was the same thing in camp, where I used to sit on my typewriter case with the machine balanced on a suitcase and work away with two German soldiers standing behind me with rifles, breathing down the back of my neck. They seemed fascinated by the glimpse into the life literary. (Letter to Bill from Wodehouse at the Hotel Lincoln, Paris, dated Feb. 5/45, at pg. 120)
* A note on the title:
With Sean O'Casey's statement that I am "English literature's performing flea," I scarcely know how to deal. Thinking it over, I believe he meant to be complimentary, for all the performing fleas I have met have impressed me with their sterling artistry and that indefinable something which makes the good trouper. (From the chapter entitled, Huy Day by Day, at p. 217)
Empire of Blue Water Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army,
the Epic Battle for the Americas,
and the Catastrophe
That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign
By Stephan Talty
The freed captains and their squadron made their way down to a settlement called Dos Brazos and perched along the tree line, waiting in ambush. They were expecting a force the same size that had attacked San Lorenzo, about 400 men. When the first canoes appeared on the river, the Panamanians checked their powder and prepared a surprise barrage. But then more canoes appeared, buccaneers hanging over the sides, and then small boats, and then more canoes. The vessels kept coming, an endless line of grizzled men with shiny muskets. The buccaneer army was almost four times the size of what the captains had been expecting. They wished to clear their names, but the odds of four-to-one against Henry Morgan were a dead man's bet. Instead of opening up on the English devils, the Spanish watched as a party of Morgan's men beached their canoes, foraged among the abandoned huts, and stretched their legs onshore. The lazy privateers were easily within musket range, and they were open to attack. The Spanish gaped as some of the men even lay down on the banks and fell asleep, while others sat smoking a pipe of tobacco. The Spanish sharpshooters fingered their triggers, but the names of Morgan's victories echoed in the captains' minds: Granada, Portobelo, Maracaibo. They held their fire. (From The Isthmus, p. 221)
The Cavaliere knew what she was up to when she played faro and hazard late into the night and began to count on her success, which made it grueling for him either to watch her or ignore her. He despised anything imploring in himself: on these evenings he usually retired early. The hero remained by her side, whispered in her ear, beamed when she won, staked her to another game when she lost. How brilliantly she played, win or lose, thought the hero. No one would even have a chance against her were it not for an endearing frailty that sometimes made her a bit muddled. He had noticed she became tipsy after the second glass of brandy. How odd, he thought. If he drank two glasses of brandy, he was not affected. As indifferent to drink as he was to cards (the hero was almost as abstemious as the Cavaliere), he didn't understand that the rapidity with which she became drunk was a sign not of an unusual susceptibility but of advanced alcoholism.
She is a gifted player, but sometimes continues after a steady run of good fortune, risking her precious winnings, so as to keep him near. For she is never so muddled as to forget his electric presence beside her, or behind her, or across a room talking, gesturing, and, in fact, as aware of her as she is of him. (-- pgs. 236-237)
The art history lovers' guide to Nelson, British naval great, who did the dirty on both his wife and poor Emma Hamilton, who died an impoverished, addicted whore.
Lord Nelson Hero...Cad! A cache of recently discovered letters darkens
the British naval warrior's honor and enhances
that of his long-suffering wife, Frances
By Michael Ryan
What made the hero such a scoundrel? "Fanny was devoted to her husband and extremely solicitous of his health and welfare, but ultimately not in the way he craved," says Pieter van der Merwe. "My theory is that Nelson remained in many respects a small boy from a large family who lost his mother very young and spent his life searching for a source of uncritical love. He was almost entirely disappointed in finding it in Fanny, but he found it in Emma." (Final paragraph at p. 75)
The Volcano Lover
Audio Cassette Only!
We were unable to find even a review of this audio book. We'll keep trying. It's such great historical fiction based on the story of one of Britain's greatest heroes that it's worth a deeper search. Recommended only to very advanced ESL students, though. Susan Sontag's text is simply baroque with period detail. Please check back soon for updates
The subsequent course of my entire future probably depended upon the mere chance that something - perhaps my guardian angel, perhaps nothing more romantic than the warmth gradually restored to my icy limbs by the stuffiness of the lecture-room in which we we working - suddenly made me decide to "stick out" the ordeal for which I had prepared at such cost of combat and exasperation, and to make the best of the job that had begun so badly. So, frantically seizing my pen, I started to write; any nonsense, I felt, was better than the blank sheets that would so forlornly typify my failure of imagination and courage.
All through the days of the examination, in spite of the three or four quickly-made friends with whom between papers I ate large teas in the town, I felt an unadapted alien to an extent that privately filled me with shame, and remember still the ludicrous shock from which I suffered after first meeting two or three of my terrifying competitors from East End or north-country High Schools. Probably no other girl who came up to take the Somerville Scholarship papers in 1914 had been reared to be quite such a sensitive plant as myself, or so securely sheltered in the greenhouse warmth of bourgeois comfort and provincial elegance. My mother's conscientious standards of cooking and cleanliness were, and are, about the most exacting that I have ever encountered, while at St. Monica's, with its tasteful decorations and gracious garden, its appetising meals and large staff of servants, its limited number of fashionable pupils from homes far wealthier than my own, a still higher level of luxury had been taken for granted.
Until I spent those four days at Somerville in that freezing March, I had unthinkingly assumed that women's colleges were much the same as men's; Viriginia Woolf had not then written A Room of One's Own to emphasize the sad difference between iced pudding and prunes and custard... (From Provincial Young-Ladyhood at pgs. 75-76)
Not for the feint of heart, this excellent series based on Vera Brittain's eloquent autobiography provides a rich historical monument to the tragedy of that war, including the devastating effects of mustard gas.
PokerPulse top pick for foreign service officials worldwide:
Lest We Forget A collection of poetry & music dedicated to the memory of those who fell in two world wars
Featuring Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud and the
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Pomp & circumstance: March no. 4 in G major / Elgar -- Lines from For the fallen / Binyon -- On the idle hill of summer / Housman -- In time of the breaking nations / Hardy -- Salut d'amour / Elgar -- The autumn of the world / Read -- The planets: Mars, the bringer of war / Holst -- Attack ; The general / Sassoon -- For the fallen / Binyon -- In memoriam / Thomas -- The dead (IV) / Brooker -- Returning, we hear the larks / Rosenberg -- Everyone sing / Sassoon -- Chanson de matin / Elgar -- On the dead in Gallipoli / Maserfield -- Elegy / Elgar -- Before action / Hodgson -- The soldier / Brooke -- Futility / Owen -- In Flanders Fields / McCree -- Chanson de nuit / Elgar -- The hand that signed the paper / Thomas -- Summer night on the river / Delius -- To a conscript of 1940 / Read -- Watching post / Lewis -- Naming of parts / Reed -- All day it has rained / Lewis -- Peter Grimes: Dawn / Britten -- Song of the dying gunner / Causley -- For Johnny / Pudney -- Planets: Venus, the bringer of peace / Holst -- Midnight, May 7th, 1945 / Dickinson -- Will it be so again? / Lewis -- At the British war cemetery, Bayeux / Causley -- Enigma Variations: Nimrod / Elgar -- And death shall have no dominion / Thomas -- Pomp & circumstance: March no 1 in D major / Elgar -- Lines from For the fallen / Binyon.
Includes readings of poetry by Laurence Binyon; A.E. Housman; Thomas Hardy; Herbert Read; Edward Thomas; Rupert Brooke and others.
Should be required listening by governments everywhere contemplating the unoriginal and uncreative decision to go to war. Beautifully edited and executed, this CD must have been a labor of love for all concerned.
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