Day of Deceit

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by Robert B. Stinnett

Published 2000

If you love conspiracy theories, or if you think that FDR  was actually a crappy president (woot! I fit both those categories!) you will enjoy this book.

Honestly, I think that Stinnett did a good job with this book.  It is a *bit* conspiracy-theory-ish, but not in that overboard I’m-writing-this-from-an-undisclosed-location-so-I-don’t-get-killed kind of way.  Basically, Stinnett’s premise is that FDR wanted our country to be involved in World War II, and so he did everything he could to (a) provoke Japan into attacking, (b) to make sure that Pearl Harbor was an available target, and (c) (and perhaps most controversial) ensure that the service men and women at Pearl Harbor would be taken by surprise by an attack.

Now, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m not a fan of FDR.  I was drawn to this book because other (more neutral) readings about World War II have made me a bit leery of FDR’s attitude towards war.  Just reading his speeches and such during the year before Pearl Harbor, he doesn’t sound like a man who truly wants to stay out of a war.  Day of Deceit confirms that concept – FDR realized that our country could be pulled out of the Depression and into a position of great world power if our entry to the war was timed correctly.

I definitely recommend this read.  Although Stinnett is often dealing with some dry material, he keeps things moving, and usually does a fairly good job staying on task.  (Although, let’s be fair, it’s pretty obvious that he’s not a big fan of FDR, either, and although he doesn’t actually spend the book ranting about him or anything, he does manage to work in some rather wry comments on FDR’s policies and personal life.)  While Stennett’s work obviously can’t be used as an end-all argument, he definitely raises some excellent questions about the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, and he does it without making at all less of the incredible sacrifices made by those who served in the military at Pearl Harbor and throughout the war.   A good read, a bit heavy, but worth the effort.

The Stolen Lake

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by Joan Aiken

Published 1981

When we last saw Dido Twite, in Nightbirds on Nantucketshe was sincerely hoping to find her way back home to England.  Her friends found her a place on board a British Naval ship, but, along the way, they are called to duty in South America.  In Aiken’s AU, a colony of Britishers settled in South America over a thousand years earlier during an invasion of their home island.  Through the years, Britain and New Cumbria have retained friendly relations, and so the call for help of New Cumbria’s queen is not to be ignored.

The earlier books in this series, while, at times, rather dark, have still been fairly appropriate for children.  In The Stolen Lake, however, things take a turn dark enough that I was a bit confused.  Overall, a 2/5 for this installment of the series.  For more details on this rating, combined with spoilers, read on…

SERIOUS SPOILERS BELOW

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Barnheart

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by Jenna Woginrich

Published 2011

So a while back I realized that I have several homesteading books that I really love, and although they are not written by the same person, they are published by the same publisher.  Storey Publishers are a delight, and I highly recommend checking them out if you have any interesting in homesteading or homemaking or doing-it-yourself.  If I could work for a publisher, it would be Storey.  Anyway, I decided to make a list of all the books they publish that are also available at my library and read through them all, and purchase the ones that I felt like would be especially good reference.  I haven’t gotten very far on that project since I’ve been moving and involved in other chaos, but Barnheart was first on the list.

This is actually a memoir sort of book, written by a woman who moved from Idaho to Vermont.  In this first year-and-so of her life in Vermont, she recalls transitioning not only into the community, but attempting to realize some of her dreams, dreams which you will either understand immediately or look at askance – dreams that involve gardening (and composting and canning and everything that goes with a truly amazing vegetable garden), raising sheep, raising chickens – in short, dreams that involve living independently, maybe not quite off the grid, but with the comfortable assurance that you could live off the grid if needed.

Jenna’s story has another unique dimension because she is doing this on her own – she is single, and she stays that way (throughout the book, at least).  She simply has not found someone who shares her passion.

I found myself really appreciating Jenna as I read this book.  She is someone who is overcoming obstacles and pursuing her dreams, even though they are somewhat impractical.  Her willingness to sacrifice many of life’s comforts so that she can achieve her goals is inspiring.  I love the way that she plunges in and learns on the fly.  Things do not always go well for her (this is a story of real life, after all), and no Prince Charming appears on her horizon, but she creates a life that is fulfilling, prosperous, and contented.  This book is a definite recommended read for anyone who has yearned to move to the country and make a go of homesteading.