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Hardcore History podcast by Dan Carlin

This is my favourite military history podcast. Carlin has a great voice, easy conversational explanations of important battles and wars in the history of mankind. Some will say he's not an academic, but that's precisely why he's interesting to listen too. He's great at building up a narrative around these events and packaging it into an easy to listen to format.


The Birthday Buyer by Adolfo García Ortega

How to even review a book like this? It was painful reading it but also cathartic. This is the fictional account of a 3-year old boy, Hurbinek, mentioned in the memoir of an Auschwitz survivor.

Killing a child is easy, killing thousands of children is even easier, but it isn't all that easy to erase the memory of children after they are massacred. I'm not sure why, I sometimes think it is because the lives of dead children are lives that were not lived and that must exist as fables, in a kind of timeless limbo set in history, their unredeemed presence returning to wreak a just revenge. If I believed in ghosts, I would only believe in the ghosts of massacred children.

I've never read a book like this. The author imagines the pain of the boy. He invents stories of his life that might've been. He was actually traveling to Auschwitz but had a major car accident on the way. This left his leg(s) broken and his stuck in a hospital in Germany. He seems to have written this book while in the hospital. He being temporarily crippled, and relating the imagined story of Hurbinek who was actually crippled and unable to speak.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #16 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #WW2 #Auschwitz #Fiction #TranslatedFiction

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

“Can anyone alter fate? All of us combined... or one great figure... or someone strategically placed, who happens to be in the right spot. Chance. Accident. And our lives, our world, hanging on it.”

I'm amazed again at another great story by Dick that I hadn't read before. I admit I have seen some of the first season of the Amazon adaptation of this novel but the novel is far better than the TV show.

This story takes place in an alternate history where Roosevelt is assassinated and the Axis wins World War 2. Japan and Germany win the war and slice America up between themselves.

The plot is an interesting one. There is intrigue between Japan and the Nazis with the Americans stuck in the middle.

In typical Dick style, he moves between characters easily and uses their situations to shine light on the larger world of the novel. Some of the characters we follow are Mr. Baynes, a Swedish businessman in plastics, Mr. Tagomi, Japan's Trade Minister in San Francisco, Frank Frink, a metal worker, Juliana, Frank's (ex)wife, and the art dealer, Mr. Childan.

  • American art and culture before the loss in the war is very popular – Civil war guns etc.
  • Slavery is legal again.
  • Nazis have rocket travel, and have started traveling to Mars
  • The book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a banned book in Nazi areas – it is an alternate fiction book where the Axis loses WW2. Many characters in this book are reading this novel. In the TV series, they have a banned film instead of this book. Some of the characters are amazed that there could be a world where the Axis loses WW2, it's unfathomable to them.
  • The I Ching is very popular. People use it to help them make decisions.

When a book is so good, I am always vague about the plot in my reviews. I certainly don't want to spoil this amazing book for you.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #8 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#SciFi #SpeculativeFiction #WW2 #Books #BookReview #AlternativeHistory