Update: WordPress found me this article about James Reese Europe, one of the Harlem Hellfighters, on blackmail4u.com. Europe was an eminent musician and New York City club owner who played an important part in nourishing African American music and culture. I love synchronicity! A link to a video of one of Lt Europe’s compositions, On Patrol in No Man’s Land, is embedded at the end of my post. Thank You Blackmail4u Special Delivery!!
I have the coolest book in my stacks. Well, I have a lot of the coolest books in my stacks. But I sat down with this one today. From Harlem to the Rhine: The Story of New York’s Colored Volunteers by Arthur W. Little, copyright 1936. Little created this detailed and well written history from his first hand experiences, as detailed in his own war diary.
The author details the abuse and threat the African American soldiers suffered on their own American home soil before they even left for the war. Little goes on to catalog in clear and unexaggerated prose these soldiers’ bravery, resourcefulness, great strength of character, senses of humor and musical talents. They endured great privation and danger within the warzone and without. They served our country with the greatest of bravery and honor.
The “Men of Bronze”, Harlem’s Hell Fighters, one of the great fighting units in the the shock division of Gourard’s Fourth Army of France, are well represented here and I am grateful. Many black and white photo illustrations are included, courtesy of Major Gourard himself and of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The book is indexed and contains appendices of letters and military communication.
I consider From Harlem to the Rhine a primary source on World War I history, African American History and a deeply affecting book. Our popular / mass media and education system still has not gotten the memo that white Europeans were not the only key players in our history and culture. It chaps my book loving a– er, my book loving cheeks. The only thing I wish is that we had narrative from the soldiers themselves. Works like this are ever so important to help remedy the ‘colorblindness’ that erases the immense contributions offered and trauma endured by our brothers and sisters of nonwhite ethnicity since the birth of this nation and continuing today. We are not color blind. We are colluding with the whiteout. Books like this can help us right the wrongs done by our dominant and oppressive culture.
I hope your Chanukah and Thanksgiving and any other holiday to include lazing about, introspecting, eating, being with family, escaping from family, being thankful or worrying or commemorating… I hope you are well and wish you a close of the year celebrating and remembering as appropriate, and a fresh hopeful New Year.
Eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Not really, I hope. My heart is with those who struggle and hurt and my joy is in my family, mi vida. And books of course. Give generously to the charity of your choice (find out which charities use your money the way you intend at Charity Navigator) and then remember that charity, and changing the world, begin at home. Mwah.
So here are photos of three lovely books for this year. I have some wonderful Judaica as well and will share those. Please contact me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail if one looks interesting to you. More will be listed in the coming days. Warmest wishes.
Beasley’s Christmas Party Booth Tarkington
Yes Santa, there is a Charlie Brown
The First Christmas
Wine Country Books in the House! We have been back East.
Much like the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the Wine Country Books family rarely gets to read for pleasure much less purchase an actual book new in the shop. However, in the airport on our way to catch our flight, these tireless advocates for public libraries and reduced clutter were suckered into two delicious looking paperbacks to read on the plane. Sigh.
I made it about 100 pages into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern.
I loved Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. Then there’s that Pulitzer seal on the front. This one has to be good, right? But anyone who has read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, watched The Expanse on Amazon / SYFY, or knows about Soylent Green (thinks they) can see where this is going. I am just not up for another round. I know I will have to skim or skip to the end, or read some reviews, to try and figure out whether to finish it up or just pass it on.
So I moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library. This book requires slight suspension of disbelief- what are the chances this configuration of this type of outsider and loser will not just share space but actually get to know and come to care about each other? The first few pages were a slight slog, but keep going til you get to the library. The book is so far very satisfying in its plot and characters, with perfect levels of emotion and rate of reveal about each character’s past and problems.
Just my two cents. Either way, $30+ this reader will never get back. At least I have paperbacks to share with any reading friend who would like a copy.
Email me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and I will send you the Ishiguro free.
Click Below to get your copy of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library on Amazon.
Filed under American, books and movies, British, contemporary fiction, England, free, reviews, Summer Reading, the public library, travel, United Kingdom, what I'm reading, Women writers
Collectors, fans, and musicians may find these two works of interest.
I am watching a BBC documentary about earliest human history. The presenter suggests that what allowed European Homo Sapiens to outlive their more robust, better adapted cousins the European Neanderthals was – can you guess? – art and music. Art and music created cultural identity across broader geographic regions and for larger tribes and served to preserve the weaker, smaller brained Homo Sapiens. With this perspective, the importance and influence of the arts for any culture has greater urgency than ever.
Song in America our Musical Heritage by Burl Ives (1962) collects 311 folk songs, arranged by Albert Hague. Even in our modern era the words of folk songs can vary widely from region to region, artist to artist, and decade to decade. It is good to have another reference, especially one so complete.
A Treasury of Stephen Foster (1946) includes historical notes that lend context to Foster’s work, including his use of themes from African slavery and minstrelsy. Cultural theft? A good faith attempt to strike universally recognizable sentimental notes of loss, longing, and fun in spite of it all?
“Foster composed about two hundred songs and a few instrumental pieces… a half dozen rank with the world’s greatest ballads; at least twenty-five of them have become American folksongs and more than fifty are well worthy of preservation.” Collected songs are arranged for piano by Ray Lev and Dorothy Berliner Commins.
If you are interested, please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail. Best wishes, and happy reading – or in this case, playing and singing.
If you are a collector or book lover, you may find our vintage copies of Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine interesting or helpful.
All are priced $7 with free shipping in the US. All are in very good or better condition.
For shipping outside the US please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail.
February 1998 contains articles including
Women of the New West – Kingsolver, Hogan, Erlich
The Firsts Guide to Grading Books Part 1 “Firsts begins its series on grading books with the best condition, very fine…”
Collecting Howard Norman – Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, fascinating stories, children’s books and translations of Eskimo and Northern Native American folk tales…
Book Hunting in Cyberspace