Finalist for 2012 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category
David Koker's diary is one of the most notable accounts of life in a German concentration camp written by a Jew during the years of the Holocaust. First brought to attention when the Dutch historian Jacob Presser-Koker's history teacher in high school-quoted from Koker's diary in his monumental history, published in English as The Destruction of the Dutch Jews (1968), the diary itself became a part of the Dutch literary canon when it was published in 1977 as Dagboek geschreven in Vught (Diary Written in Vught). It has remained in print ever since, and is notable for its literary qualities, weaving poetry and powerful observations of the emotional life of a camp prisoner, including reflections after an in-person visit by Heinrich Himmler. Surprisingly, the book has never before been translated into English.
During his time in the Vught concentration camp, the 21-year-old David recorded on an almost daily basis his observations, thoughts, and feelings. He mercilessly probed the abyss that opened around him and, at times, within himself. David's diary covers almost a year, both charting his daily life in Vught as it developed over time and tracing his spiritual evolution as a writer. Until early February 1944, David was able to smuggle some 73,000 words from the camp to his best friend Karel van het Reve, a non-Jew.
With an informative introduction, annotation, and list of dramatis personae by Robert Jan van Pelt, At the Edge of the Abyss offers an immediate and wholly original look into the life of a concentration camp prisoner.
Following the approach of R. M. Hartwell, the influential historian of the British Industrial Revolution, these essays explore the cultural contexts and institutional constraints that have shaped growth and development over the past two centuries. Capitalism in Context offers new perspectives on why economic development took place where and when it did.
Thirteen chapters cover: social progress during economic development; the influence of cultural values on social and economic change; economic foundations of development—labor, capital, and technology; and organizational arrangements—property rights, government, and markets. These studies will appeal to economists, historians, and social scientists alike for their wide-ranging treatments of economic development and cultural change.
The contributors are N. F. R. Crafts, Lance E. Davis, Stanley L. Engerman, David W. Galenson, Robert E. Gallman, Stephen Innes, John A. James, Eric L. Jones, Thomas W. Laqueur, Gary D. Libecap, Joel Mokyr, Douglass C. North, Mark Thomas, John J. Wallis, Jeffrey G. Williamson.
In mid-February 1944 Marian Elizabeth Smith, a young Wisconsin woman, met Marine Corps Lieutenant Eugene T. Petersen on the passenger train, El Capitan, as it made its 42-hour run from Los Angeles to Chicago. After a brief acquaintance, he left the United States to join the Third Marine Division on Guam and eventually to take part in the battle for Iwo Jima in February and March of 1945. The collected letters of their subsequent 18-month correspondence reveal much about wartime life at home and abroad. This correspondence represents a time capsule of current events as Smith and Petersen discuss Franklin Roosevelt, the United Nations, internationalism, popular movies, the French aviator and poet Antoine de St. Exupery, the comic strip Barnaby, and the frustrations of dealing with sometimes less-than- enlightened parents. The loss of Marian's brother during the bombing of Ploesti, Rumania, in June 1944, brought Petersen and Smith closer together, and after hundreds of letters the "chance for love" Marian had suggested early in their correspondence evolved into a marriage that has endured for more than half a century.
Chris Marker is one of the most extraordinary and influential filmmakers of our time. In landmark films such as Letter from Siberia, La Jetée, Sans Soleil, and Level Five, he has overturned cinematic conventions by confounding the distinction between documentary and fiction, writing and visual recording, and the still and moving image. Yet these works are only the tip of the iceberg; Marker's career has also encompassed writing, photography, television, and digital multimedia.
Chris Marker is the first systematic examination of Marker's complete oeuvre. Here, Catherine Lupton traces the development and transformation of the artist's work from the late 1940s, when he began to work as a poet, novelist, and critic for the French journal Esprit, through the 1990s and the release of his most recent works, including Level Five and the CD-ROM Immemory. Lupton explicates Marker's work as a circular trajectory, with each project recycling and referring back to earlier works as well as to a host of adopted texts, always proceeding by oblique association and lateral digression. This trajectory, which Lupton outlines with great care and precision, is critical to understanding Marker's abiding obsession: the forms and operations of human memory. With this theme as her architecture, Lupton presents the most comprehensive and incisive analysis of Marker to date.
Incorporating historical events and cultural contexts that have informed each phase of Marker's career, Lupton gives readers access to an artist who stands outside of the mainstream and thus defies easy explanation. There is no better guide than Lupton's to this modern master's prolific and multidimensional career.
After World War II more than one hundred books appeared that dealt with the experience of the Italian army in Russia, and particularly the terrible winter retreat of 1942-1943. Few Returned (I piu' non ritornano) is the only one of these that is still regularly reissued in Italy.
Eugenio Corti, who was a twenty-one-year-old second lieutenant at the time, found himself, together with 30,000 Italians and a smaller contingent of Germans, encircled on the banks of the River Don by enemy forces who far outnumbered them. To break out of this encirclement, these men undertook a desperate march across the snow, with constant engagements and in temperatures ranging from -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Whereas supplies were air-dropped to the Germans, the predicament of the Italians was far more difficult: lacking gasoline, they were compelled to abandon their vehicles and to proceed without heavy arms, equipment, ammunition, or provisions. Even the wounded had to be abandoned, though it was well known that the soldiers of the Red Army"enraged by the brutality of the German invasion"killed all the enemy wounded who fell into their hands. After twenty-eight days of encirclement, only 4,000 of the 30,000 Italians made it out of the pocket.
Why is it that Corti's book, which was first published in 1947, continues after fifty years to be reprinted in Italy? Because, as Mario Apollonio of the University of Milan said, when the book first appeared: "It is a chronicle . . . but it is much more than that: behind the physical reality, there is the truth" about man at his most tragic hour. Apollonio adds: "The power of the writing immediately transforms the document into drama"; the result is a "novel-poem-drama-history." The philosopher Benedetto Croce found in Corti's book "the not infrequent gleam of human goodness and nobility." Few Returned is a classic of war literature that succeeds in bringing home the full hatefulness of war.
Eugenio Corti began writing his diary at a military hospital immediately after being repatriated from the Russian front. When in September 1943 Italy found itself cut in two by the Armistice, Corti, loyal to his officer's oath, joined up with what remained of the Italian army in the south and with those few troops participated in driving the Germans off Italian soil, fighting at the side of the British Eighth and the American Fifth Armies.
On November 18, 1944, the end of the war in Europe finally in sight, American copilot Lieutenant Lee Lamar struggled alongside pilot Randall Darden to keep Bottoms Up, their B-24J Liberator, in the air. They and their crew of eight young men had believed the intelligence officer who, at the predawn briefing at their base in southern Italy, had confided that their mission that day would be a milk run. But that twenty-first mission out of Italy would be their last.
Bottoms Up was staggered by an antiaircraft shell that sent it plunging three miles earthward, the pilots recovering control at just 5,000 feet. With two engines out, they tried to make it to a tiny strip on a British-held island in the Adriatic Sea and in desperation threw out everything not essential to flight: machine guns, belts of ammunition, flak jackets. But over Pula, in what is now Croatia, they were once more hit by German fire, and the focus quickly became escaping the doomed bomber. Seemingly unable to extricate himself, Lamar all but surrendered to death before fortuitously bailing out. He was captured the next day and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner at a stalag on the Baltic Sea, suffering the deprivations of little food and heat in Europe’s coldest winter in a century. He never saw most of his crew again.
Then, in 2006, more than sixty years after these life-changing experiences, Lamar received an email from Croatian archaeologist Luka Bekic, who had discovered the wreckage of Bottoms Up. A veteran of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bekic felt compelled to find out the crew’s identities and fates. Lee Lamar, a boy from a hardscrabble farm in rural northwestern Missouri, had gone to college on the GI Bill, become a civil engineer, gotten married, and raised a family. Yet, for all the opportunity that stemmed from his wartime service, part of him was lost. The prohibition on asking prisoners of war their memories during the repatriation process prevented him from reconciling himself to the events of that November day. That changed when, nearly a year after being contacted by Bekic, Lamar visited the site, hoping to gain closure, and met the Croatian Partisans who had helped some members of his crew escape.
In this absorbing, alternating account of World War II and its aftermath, Dennis R. Okerstrom chronicles, through Lee Lamar’s experiences, the Great Depression generation who went on to fight in the most expensive war in history. This is the story of the young men who flew Bottoms Up on her final mission, of Lamar’s trip back to the scene of his recurring nightmare, and of a remarkable convergence of international courage, perseverance, and friendship.
After an exciting career flying dozens of different aircraft to destinations as near as midwestern cornfields and as far as Middle Eastern deserts, veteran aviator Jack Race regales us with his unique experiences in I’ll Fly Away, an engaging biography written with acclaimed novelist William Hallstead.
From his adventures flying for the Allies in World War II to his work as head pilot trainer for Ariana Afghan Airlines, Race has logged more than six decades in the air. I’ll Fly Away tracks his travels around the globe, encompassing his post-war job as crop duster and bush pilot, his thirty-four years as a commercial airline pilot for Pan American World Airways, his consultancy to King Hussein for Royal Jordanian Airlines, and the eight years in which he served as lead pilot for Orbis, an eye hospital on wings that served thirty-one countries. In 1989 Race notably retraced Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 20,000-mile goodwill tour, flying his Spirit of Orbis biplane to all forty-eight of the continental U.S. states.
A remarkable and wholly readable biography of an American original, I’ll Fly Away will be essential for the bookshelf of every aviation enthusiast.
Tomiyama Taeko, a Japanese visual artist born in 1921, is changing the way World War II is remembered in Japan, Asia, and the world. Her work deals with complicated moral and emotional issues of empire and war responsibility that cannot be summed up in simple slogans, which makes it compelling for more than just its considerable beauty.
Japanese today are still grappling with the effects of World War II, and, largely because of the inconsistent and ambivalent actions of the government, they are widely seen as resistant to accepting responsibility for their nation’s violent actions against others during the decades of colonialism and war. Yet some individuals, such as Tomiyama, have produced nuanced and reflective commentaries on those experiences, and on the difficulty of disentangling herself from the priorities of the nation despite her lifelong political dissent. Tomiyama’s sophisticated visual commentary on Japan’s history—and on the global history in which Asia is embedded—provides a compelling guide through the difficult terrain of modern historical remembrance, in a distinctively Japanese voice.
In the sequel to the highly acclaimed Few Returned, Eugenio Corti, one of Italy’s most distinguished postwar writers, continues his poignant account of his experiences as an Italian soldier in the Second World War. In the earlier book, Corti, a twenty-one-year-old lieutenant of artillery, recounts the horrifying experience of the soldiers who were sent to Russia to fight alongside their German ally. On the River Don, the Red Army surrounded Corti and the other members of the Italian force. Of the 30,000 men in the Thirty-fifth Corps, Corti was one of only an estimated 4,000 soldiers to survive the ordeal. Mussolini’s dreams of empire were shattered, and his ill-fated Eighth Army no longer existed.
In 1943, after recurrent military defeats, the Italian government and its king, Victor Emmanuel III, forced Mussolini to resign. Italy then signed an armistice with the Allies and ended its alliance with Germany. The Germans immediately occupied northern Italy, which the Axis still held, and reinstated Mussolini in the north. Some Italians remained loyal to fascism; many others aligned themselves with the Allies, who were now advancing in southern Italy. Corti’s sympathies were with the Allies, and after a harrowing escape from the German-occupied north, he rejoined the Italian Army fighting on the side of the king. The Last Soldiers of the King is Corti’s account of the Italian Army’s experiences fighting the Germans during the remainder of the war.
In this unforgettable narrative, Corti depicts the war from the perspective of the average Italian soldier, capturing its boredom and absurdity along with brief periods of savagery, terror, and death. Painting vivid pictures of the sights, sounds, and smells of war, he shows how these men fought alongside the Allies against the Germans. They fought without hatred, driven by a sense of duty and love for their country and a desire to quickly put an end to a war that was destroying so many lives. Corti superbly relates the wandering of the remnant of Italian officers and men as they sought to reestablish themselves as Italian soldiers. The Last Soldiers of the King tells the story of a proud people forced to endure death, poverty, and the virtual destruction of their nation.
According to legend, the Garden of Eden was located in Iraq, and for millennia, Jews resided peacefully in metropolitan Baghdad. Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad reconstructs the last years of the oldest Jewish Diaspora community in the world through the recollections of Violette Shamash, a Jewish woman who was born in Baghdad in 1912, sent to her daughter Mira Rocca and son-in-law, the British journalist Tony Rocca. The result is a deeply textured memoir—an intimate portrait of an individual life, yet revealing of the complex dynamics of the Middle East in the twentieth century.
Toward the end of her long life, Violette Shamash began writing letters, notes, and essays and sending them to the Roccas. The resulting book begins near the end of Ottoman rule and runs through the British Mandate, the emergence of an independent Iraq, and the start of dictatorial government. Shamash clearly loved the world in which she grew up but is altogether honest in her depiction of the transformation of attitudes toward Baghdad’s Jewish population. Shamash’s world is finally shattered by the Farhud, the name given to the massacre of hundreds of Iraqi Jews over three days in 1941. An event that has received very slight historical coverage, the Farhud is further described and placed in context in a concluding essay by Tony Rocca.
Philip Hubbard's life story begins in 1921 in Macon, a county seat in the Bible Belt of north central Missouri, whose history as a former slave state permeated the culture of his childhood. When he was four his mother moved her family 140 miles north to Des Moines in search of the greater educational opportunity that Iowa offered African American students. In this recounting of the effects of that journey on the rest of his life, Phil Hubbard merges his private and public life and career into an affectionate, powerful, and important story.
Hubbard graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in electrical engineering in 1946; by 1954 he had received his Ph.D. in hydraulics. The College of Engineering extended a warm academic welcome, but nonacademic matters were totally different: Hubbard was ineligible for the housing and other amenities offered to white students. Intelligent, patient, keenly aware of discrimination yet willing to work from within the university system, he advanced from student to teacher to administrator, retiring in 1991 after decades of leadership in the classroom and the conference room.
Hubbard's major accomplishments included policies that focused on human rights; these policies transformed the makeup of students, faculty, and staff by seeking to eliminate discrimination based on race, religion, or other nonacademic factors and by substituting affirmative action for the traditional old-boy methods of selecting faculty and administrators. At the same time that he was advancing the cause of human rights and cultural diversity in education, his family was growing and thriving, and his descriptions of home life reveal one source of his strength and inspiration.
The decades that Hubbard covers were vital in the evolution of the nation and its educational institutions. His dedication to the agenda of public higher education has always been matched by his sensitivity to the negative effects of discrimination and his gentle perseverance toward his goals of inclusion, acceptance, and fairness. His vivid personal and institutional story will prove valuable at this critical juncture in America's racial history.
On February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions stormed ashore from a naval support force. Among them was green young lieutenant Pat Caruso who became de facto company commander when the five officers ranking him were killed or wounded. He led his rapidly diminishing force steadily forward for the next few days, when a day’s gains were measured in yards. Caruso was eventually wounded himself and was evacuated. Realizing that the heroism of his comrades would be lost by the decimation of his unit, Caruso latched onto any paper he could find and filled every blank space with his memory of the fighting. This edition has a new foreword and index, boasts nine new photographs, and a map of the action. It resumes its place as a classic account of the experience of being in close, direct, and constant contact with a determined enemy at close quarters. Many did not survive; those who did were changed forever.
Born in 1921, Manuel Llamojha Mitma became one of Peru's most creative and inspiring indigenous political activists. Now Peru Is Mine combines extensive oral history interviews with archival research to chronicle his struggles for indigenous land rights and political inclusion as well as his fight against anti-Indian racism. His compelling story—framed by Jaymie Patricia Heilman's historical contextualization—covers nearly eight decades, from the poverty of his youth and teaching himself to read, to becoming an internationally known activist. Llamojha also recounts his life's tragedies, such as being forced to flee his home and the disappearance of his son during the war between the Shining Path and the government. His life gives insight into many key developments in Peru's tumultuous twentieth-century history, among them urbanization, poverty, racism, agrarian reform, political organizing, the demise of the hacienda system, and the Shining Path. The centrality of his embrace of his campesino identity forces a rethinking of how indigenous identity works inside Peru, while the implications of his activism broaden our understanding of political mobilization in Cold War Latin America.
Honored with the 1990 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for a lifetime of outstanding achievement, Fay Jones is an Arkansas original. In receiving the medal from Prince Charles of Great Britain, Jones was hailed as a “powerful and special genius who embodies nearly all the qualities we admire in an architect” and as an artist who used his vision to craft “mysterious and magical places” not only in Arkansas but all over the world.
This book accompanied a special museum exhibit of Jones’s life and work at the Old State House in Little Rock. It traces Jones’s development from his early years as a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff, to the culmination of his ability in such arresting structures as Pinecote Pavilion in Picayune, Mississippi; Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Chapman University Chapel in Orange, California. Through the black-and-white photographs of the homes, chapels, and other buildings that Jones has created and the accompanying captions and interviews of the architect, the reader is allowed a view into this man’s remarkable talent.
Designing structures that fuse architecture and landscape, the organic and the man-made, Jones has created special places which touch their viewers with the power and subtlety of poetry. Herein we learn why.
From the Foreword by Robert Adams Ivy Jr.:
“Fay Jones’s architecture begins in order and ends in mystery. . . . His role can perhaps best be understood as mediator, a human consciousness that has arisen from the Arkansas soil and scoured the cosmos, then spoken through the voices of stone and wood, steel and glass. Art, philosophy, craft, and human aspiration coalesce in his masterworks, transformed from acts of will into harmonies: Jones lets space sing.”
If liberalism is premised on inclusion, pluralism, and religious neutrality, can the separation of church and state be said to have a unitary and rational foundation? If we accept that there are no self-evident principles of morality or politics, then doesn't any belief in a rational society become a sort of faith? And how can liberalism mediate impartially between various faiths—as it aims to do—if liberalism itself is one of the competing faiths?
J. Judd Owen answers these questions with a remarkable critical analysis of four twentieth-century liberal and postliberal thinkers: John Dewey, John Rawls and, most extensively, Richard Rorty and Stanley Fish. His unique readings of these theorists and their approaches to religion lead him to conclusions that are meticulously constructed and surprising, arguing against the perception of liberalism as simple moral or religious neutrality, calling into question the prevailing justifications for separation of church and state, and challenging the way we think about the very basis of constitutional government.
This volume presents two works by acclaimed Polish journalist Hanna Krall: The Subtenant, a semi-autobiographical novel, and To Outwit God, a remarkable interview with Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Subtenant explores the troubled and ever-shifting relationships between Poles and Jews, beginning with the author's concealment as a child during the Nazi years and ending in 1981 when martial law was declared in Poland. In To Outwit God, Edelman's words assault conventional assumptions about heroes and heroism, taking in his time not only in the Warsaw Ghetto but his careers as a physician and a Solidarity activist. Taken together, the two works form a powerful memoir of Jewish survival, a meditation on Polish-Jewish relations, and a commentary on the forces that have produced modern Polish opposition movements.
This volume revisits the Nobel Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow’s classic 1963 essay “Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care” in light of the many changes in American health care since its publication. Arrow’s groundbreaking piece, reprinted in full here, argued that while medicine was subject to the same models of competition and profit maximization as other industries, concepts of trust and morals also played key roles in understanding medicine as an economic institution and in balancing the asymmetrical relationship between medical providers and their patients. His conclusions about the medical profession’s failures to “insure against uncertainties” helped initiate the reevaluation of insurance as a public and private good.
Coming from diverse backgrounds—economics, law, political science, and the health care industry itself—the contributors use Arrow’s article to address a range of present-day health-policy questions. They examine everything from health insurance and technological innovation to the roles of charity, nonprofit institutions, and self-regulation in addressing medical needs. The collection concludes with a new essay by Arrow, in which he reflects on the health care markets of the new millennium. At a time when medical costs continue to rise, the ranks of the uninsured grow, and uncertainty reigns even among those with health insurance, this volume looks back at a seminal work of scholarship to provide critical guidance for the years ahead.
Contributors Linda H. Aiken Kenneth J. Arrow Gloria J. Bazzoli M. Gregg Bloche Lawrence Casalino Michael Chernew Richard A. Cooper Victor R. Fuchs Annetine C. Gelijns Sherry A. Glied Deborah Haas-Wilson Mark A. Hall Peter J. Hammer Clark C. Havighurst Peter D. Jacobson Richard Kronick Michael L. Millenson Jack Needleman Richard R. Nelson Mark V. Pauly Mark A. Peterson Uwe E. Reinhardt James C. Robinson William M. Sage J. B. Silvers Frank A. Sloan Joshua Graff Zivin
“McDonough brings such passionate perspective to this amazing and heretofore largely unknown story that it’s nearly impossible to put down.”
—James R. Hansen, prizewinning aerospace historian and bestselling author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong
When Myron King of the U.S. Army Air Corps arrived in England in 1944, he fully expected to fly dangerous bombing missions over Nazi Germany. What the twenty-three-year-old lieutenant had no way of predicting, however, was that he would spend his last months in Europe entangled in a bizarre affair born of the mounting tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Ultimately, King faced three wars: the monumental conflict between the Allies and the Third Reich, the nascent Cold War, and a personal battle with the military brass to clear his name after enduring a grossly unjust court-martial.
This book presents an engrossing account of King’s early life and wartime service as part of the 401st Bombardment Group, U.S. Eighth Air Force. As a child growing up in New York and Tennessee, he was thoroughly captivated by the young field of aviation and dreamed of becoming a pilot. Attending college when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he realized his boyhood ambition by enlisting as an Air Corps cadet. After completing flight training two years later, King and his crew flew a B-17 bomber across the Atlantic to join their fellow airmen at a base near the English village of Deenethorpe—doing their first battle not with German fighters but with a raging storm during the Greenland-to-Iceland leg of the journey.
Once settled in Great Britain, the King Crew flew twenty missions from November 1944 through February 1945. It was on their last flight to Berlin that enemy fire crippled their plane and forced them to land in Poland amid the Russian forces that were advancing on Germany from the east. There events took a decidedly strange turn as King became embroiled in an incident involving a young stowaway and the increasingly complicated relations between the United States and Stalin’s regime. Scapegoated in the episode, King would leave the Air Corps with his honorable record severely soiled—a wrong that would take years to undo.
The Wars of Myron King is more than just a rattling good true-life adventure story. Based on a wide array of published and primary sources, including trial transcripts and interviews with King, the book offers a unique view of the experience of air combat, the intertwining of politics and military justice, and the complex circumstances that inaugurated the Cold War.
James Lee McDonough is professor emeritus of history at Auburn University. He is the author of ten books, including Shiloh—In Hell Before Night, Stones River—Bloody Winter in Tennessee, Chattanooga—A Death Grip on the Confederacy, War in Kentucky: From Shiloh to Perryville, and Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble. This is his second book on a World War II subject.
Robert Goldmann Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress DS135.G5G55894413 1997 | Dewey Decimal 943.004924
Wayward Threads is the story of Robert Goldmann's youth in Reinheim, a small German village; his experience in the early Nazi years in Frankfurt; his forced emigration in 1939; and his subsequent career in the United States, including service with the Voice of America, brushes with McCarthyism, and a brief tenure as head of the European bureau of the Anti-Defamation League. Goldmann also discusses his later experiences and encounters with his native Germany. Full of arresting vignettes, Wayward Threads stands out among other Holocaust memoirs for its strong American dimension.
Gene Jacobsen was a nineteen-year-old Idaho ranch kid when he decided to join the Army Air Corps in September 1940. By December 1941 he was supply sergeant for the Twentieth Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field in the Philippines. Five months later he was a captive of the Imperial Japanese Army, enduring the Bataan death march and subsequent horrors in the Philippines and Japan. Of the 207 officers and men who made up Jacobsen’s squadron at the beginning of the war, sixty-five survived to return to the United States. We Refused to Die recounts Jacobsen’s struggle, against all odds, to remain one of those sixty-five men.
In engaging, direct prose, Jacobsen’s three-and-a-half year experience as a prisoner of war takes the reader on a brutal and harrowing march through hatred and forgiveness, fortitude and freedom. We Refused to Die is an honest memoir that shines light on one of history’s darkest moments.
Recounts the hardships and joys the Kilgore family and their neighbors experienced in a close-knit southern rural community during the Great Depression
As the Great Depression tightened its grip on the world, six members of the Kilgore family were living in a cramped farmhouse in Brookwood, Alabama. Crops didn’t grow well, food was scarce, shoes were in short supply, and the few clothes they had were all hand-me-downs. The Kilgores struggled to make ends meet, cobbling together odd jobs and working the land by hand.
Despite all of this, young Aileen thought life was full of hope. She longed to hold on to it and scribbled down daily events on whatever odds and ends of paper she could find. In her new memoir, When the Wolf Camped at Our Door, Aileen Kilgore Henderson creates a vivid portrait of what life was like for so many living in the rural South during the Depression. The book begins when Aileen is ten years old and follows her into her teenage years over the course of twenty-seven episodic chapters. Drawing on her girlhood diaries and told through the charismatic voice of her younger self, Henderson’s nuanced storytelling sheds light on the common struggle for survival during a time when people were at their most vulnerable.
Against the backdrop of a world where hard work and harsh conditions like hunger, privation, sickness, and early death were everyday realities, Henderson’s stories are nevertheless tinged with young Aileen’s lively sense of humor and optimistic faith in people and in the promise of life despite trying circumstances. We follow her rambles in the woods, her visits with friends, a trip to a fortune teller, and a search for the Howton Horror, a mysterious monster rumored to live deep in the Alabama backwoods.
A coming-of-age memoir evoking farm, mining, and small-town life in Alabama’s Tuscaloosa County as the world transitions from the Great Depression to World War II
In the 1930s, the rural South was in the throes of the Great Depression. Farm life was monotonous and hard, but a timid yet curious teenager thought it worth recording. Aileen Kilgore Henderson kept a chronicle of her family’s daily struggles in Tuscaloosa County alongside events in the wider world she gleaned from shortwave radio and the occasional newspaper. She wrote about Howard Hughes’s round-the-world flight and her horror at the rise to power in Germany of a bizarre politician named Adolf Hitler. Henderson longed to join the vast world beyond the farm, but feared leaving the refuge of her family and beloved animals.
Yet, with her father’s encouragement, she did leave, becoming a clerk in the Kress dime store in downtown Tuscaloosa. Despite long workdays and a lengthy bus commute, she continued to record her observations and experiences in her diary, for every day at the dime store was interesting and exciting for an observant young woman who found herself considering new ideas and different points of view.
Drawing on her diary entries from the 1930s and early 1940s, Henderson recollects a time of sweeping change for Tuscaloosa and the South. The World through the Dime Store Door is a personal and engaging account of a Southern town and its environs in transition told through the eyes of a poor young woman with only a high school education but gifted with a lively mind and an openness to life.