Tag Archives: WWII

Way Back When: Discovering 1923 in 2023

Well, it’s 2023, which feels like a strange and unwieldy number for a year to be after the neat symmetry of 2022. I thought for today’s post it would be interesting to look at different events that occurred exactly 100 years ago, and feature various books, movies, and resources for you to explore corresponding to those events. For one thing, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, and for another…this makes learning history fun! (For me, at the very least, but hopefully for you too). Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

cover of Red Star Over Russie by David King

January | The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) aka the Soviet Union is established after a period of revolution. Red Star Over Russia by David King has a self-explanatory subtitle; it’s a Visual History of the Soviet Union From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin: Posters, Photographs and Graphics From the David King Collection. I’m a visual learner myself, and this graphic book is eye-catching and eye-opening, and reminds readers of the intersection of art and politics as a revolutionary incentive, as propaganda, and as an art movement in and of itself.

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Genevieve Graham: Making the Lesser-Known Canadian History Accessible

On November 18, Genevieve Graham, the Globe and Mail No. 1 bestselling author of Letters Across the Sea and The Forgotten Home Child, will be visiting Vaughan Public Libraries’ Adult Book Club via Zoom. Despite all the battles that the pandemic brought upon, it did teach us one useful thing – to embrace the virtual meeting space, where we get to meet Genevieve, who’s now far away in Nova Scotia. Please register here and enjoy an evening of good conversations with Genevieve!

Genevieve is known for writing about the little-known or much-forgotten Canadian history. The Forgotten Home Child is about over 120,000 destitute children shipped from England to Canada to be used as labour on Canadian farms and households between 1869 and 1932. The book has first made me aware of the abuse and stigmatization that these home children received. And her current bestseller, Letters Across the Sea, has introduced me to the anti-semitic Christie Pits Riot in 1933 and the suffering of the undertrained Canadian soldiers at the inhuman Japanese camps during WWII.

Those heart-wrenching stories have made Genevieve and readers shed millions of tears. But Genevieve’s writing has made the cruel, hard facts digestible as well. Genevieve reminds me of Pierre Berton, the historian who had popularized Canadian history with his light, fast-paced writing style, just all in non-fiction. We should know historical fiction is as powerful as non-fiction history books. In Genevieve’s words, “History itself is in black and white. It feels far away and cold. Bringing the colour of fictional characters into a well-researched point in history, essentially breathing life back into the history, makes the past real. It’s much more difficult to forget a story if you care about the characters, and so history is remembered.” She believes “historical fiction has a huge responsibility: we must teach the mind but also touch the heart.” And she has done this job brilliantly!

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Hacksaw Ridge (directed by Mel Gibson)

Hacksaw Ridge is a film based on true events during the WWII. Army Medic Desmond Doss, Image result for Hacksaw Ridgebeing a conscientious objector to the war, single-handedly saved many wounded soldiers on the battlefields of Okinawa, Japan. Doss refused to carry a gun and kill people in the war; he only wanted to save people’s lives. Although mocked, bullied, and almost being sent to the military prison, Doss did not lose his believe. He finally went to the frontline as a medic, and persistently proved himself as powerful as the armed soldiers. He was awarded with the Medal of Honor for his rescue effort; he is the first man in American history to receive this medal without firing a shot.

 

Image result for Hacksaw Ridge Desmond DossNominated for 6 Oscars, Hacksaw Ridge is a movie about bravery and humanity. Andrew Garfield did a great job portraying the main character. There is definitely lots of blood and violence that made me jump in the movie, however, it is the cruelty of the war that makes Doss’ action shine. After I watch this film, I felt that the most powerful weapon is a person’s mind, and there is always hope and goodness in humanities.