Tales of the South Pacific

In 1948 James Michener won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of short stories entitled Tales of the South Pacific.  Derived from his experience with the US Navy in the New Hebrides Islands during the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the fascinating stories focus on...

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Kon-Tiki

  Inspired by reports from Spanish Conquistadors of Inca rafts, native legends and archaeological evidence suggesting contact between South America and Polynesia, the Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl. made a balsa wood raft journey across the Pacific Ocean...

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Every Man Dies Alone

In 1947 the highly-controversial East German author Hans Fallada published Jeder Stirbt für sich Allein (Every Man Dies Alone), a novel about an ordinary married couple who, after their son was killed in action in 1942, distributed dissident postcards and leaflets in...

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Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin at the caves of Qumran in Jordan. Although written before the Christian gospels, the scrolls contained many similarities, but also some differences from the traditional Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible.  ...

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Mickey Spillaine

Frank Morrison Spillane (March 9, 1918 – July 17, 2006), better known as Mickey Spillane, was an American cartoonist turned crime novelist, who wrote from the point of view of a private detective named Mike Hammer. "Bestselling writer of shoot-em-up crime novels" is...

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Wolves at the Doorstep 1942

  Somewhere between the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bataan death march and the fierce fighting on Guadalcanal, many of us seem to have forgotten one of the most important American theaters in early WWII - The Battle of the Western Atlantic. In 1942, German...

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William Carlos Williams

This is a scene from the charming 2016 film Paterson (96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) about a bus driver and erstwhile poet named Paterson who lives in Paterson, New Jersey with his wife who dreams of being a country music star and opening a cupcake business.   This Is...

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Georgia O’Keefe

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), a pioneer of American modernism, is renowned for her paintings of flowers, skyscrapers, animal skulls and southeastern landscapes.   New York City with Moon (1925)   Moving to New Mexico after the death of her photographer husband Alfred...

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20th Century Russian literature

In the late 19th century the Russian writer Anton Chekhov was famous for his short stories and plays. One of his best known short stories, The Lady with the Dog,  told  of two lovers who had an affair while both were married to other people. In the 19th century,...

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Man’s Search for Meaning

In 1946 the neuro-psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) chronicled his experience in Nazi concentration camps in his best-selling memoir Man's Search for Meaning. In this book, Frankl described how finding personal meaning allowed him to survive internment in Nazi...

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20th Century Vietnamese Literature

Before the 17th century, official Vietnamese documents, literature and poetry were written in Classical Chinese.       The modern written Vietnamese language chữ quốc ngữ utilizes Latin script with additional accent marks (diacritics) and characters joined together...

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20th Century Chinese Literature

The recorded history of Chinese literature begins with an era of great philosophical and cultural advances known as the Hundred Schools of Thought during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770–256 BC). Following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and the establishment...

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20th Century Korean Literature

Early 20th Century Korean literature The two most prominent Korean authors during the Japanese colonial rule of 1910-1945 were Choe Nam-seon and Yi Kwang-su.     "The modern age is the age of power in which the powerful survive while the weak perish. This competition...

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An Artist of the Floating World

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro presents the viewpoint of an elderly artist Masuji Ono in postwar Japan. His wife and son have been killed in the war, and many young people blame their elders for leading the country into disaster. As Ono recalls his...

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Animal Farm 

George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm, published in 1945, described his book as an allegorical account of events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. George Orwell was the nom de plum of Eric Blair, a...

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You and the Atomic Bomb

Just months after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, George Orwell published an essay entitled You and the Atomic Bomb in the London Tribune. The first one to use the term "cold war," Orwell outlines in the prophetic excerpt below a rationale that would...

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Burmese Harp / Grave of the Fireflies

Adapted from the novel by Michio Takeyama, this 1956 film directed by Ichikawa Kon, involves a company of Japanese Imperial Army troops who finally surrender in the last desperate stages of the Burma campaign. When their company commander begins to lead them in songs...

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Ezra Pound Arrested

Ezra Weston Loomis Pond (1885 – 1972) was one of the most controversial, major literary figures in the 20th century. Early in his career, Pound promoted Imagism, a modernist movement, derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, that emphasized clarity,...

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Elbe Day

On April 25, 1945, with great jubilation, American and Soviet armies met southwest of Berlin  at Torgau on the Elbe River. Torgau is on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany....

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Ernie Pyle Killed

Before he became a WWII correspondent, Indianan Ernie Pyle wrote a popular syndicated column for the Scripps-Howard newspapers about the lives and hopes of typical American citizens in the 1930s. In 1942, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent where he covered the...

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Anne Frank Dies

Anne Frank was a teenage writer who hid in Amsterdam with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation of Holland. She chronicled her feelings and experiences in a diary that became renowned after the war. She was 15 years old when the location of the family...

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The German War

  Using German archival records and letters and diaries of both civilians and soldiers during WWII, The German War - A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945  by Nicholas Stargardt is a fascinating book that illustrates the strong civilian support for Germany's armed forces...

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Christmas at Leningrad

    Christmas 1943 Poem written by an un-named German soldier, subsequently lost in the battle of Leningrad. Irgendwo in Russland zünden wir zur Nacht die Kerzen an. Und so wird Euer Herz mich finden, da ich nicht bei Euch sein kann. Stumm und ungesprochen bleiben...

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Naming of the Parts

Henry Reed  (1914-1986) was a British poet, translator, radio dramatist and journalist.  Lessons of the War, published in 1942, was a collection of three poems parodying WWII British army basic training, which had a shortage of equipment at that time. The poem...

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