Fabulous Fiction Firsts #118

A bestseller in Europe, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key* opens in Paris, July 1942. Thinking she would be home in a few hours, ten year-old Sarah locks her younger brother in their secret hiding place as the police round up Jews for Stadium Vlodrome d'Hiver, en route to Auschwitz.

Sixty years later, American journalist Julia Jarmond is in Paris to investigate the round-up and stumbles onto a trail of family secrets that link her to Sarah.

Book groups all over the world have posted their discussion questions at the Sarah's Key blog site to share. The film rights have been sold to French producer Stéphane Marsil.

Tatiana de Rosnay writes for French ELLE. Since 1992, she has published eight novels in French. Sarah's Key is the first written in English.

This "shocking, profoundly moving, and morally challenging story" is highly recommended for book groups that have enjoyed Suite Française. For information on this time period, try Vichy France and the Jews.

* = Starred Reviews

Ruth Greenglass, Key Witness at the Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Dies at 84

ruth greenglassruth greenglass

Another blog about the deceased puts me in the ghoul pool this week, but I couldn’t help myself when it was revealed today that Ruth Greenglass died on June 23rd.

In 1951, Mrs. Greenglass testified against her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Her testimony sealed all of their fates. The Rosenbergs were executed. David Greenglass (Ethel Rosenberg's brother) corroborated his wife’s testimony in his confession about a crucial issue and served ten years. Mrs. Greenglass was never indicted.

Perhaps with this death more information will come out of the woodwork about this Cold War espionage mystery. Most historians agree that the Rosenbergs did pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviets; the argument is the quality of the information that David Greenglass was able to gather as an Army Sergeant machinist. Many contend it wasn’t much.

Among many unanswered questions is who transcribed David Greenglass’s notes at the Rosenberg’s apartment in 1945? Was it Ethel Rosenberg or Ruth Greenglass?

Can you imagine being in a situation where you had to testify in a capital case against your wife, husband or sister? Conflicting testimony at different points on the timeline indicate someone was lying or “misspeaking’” (the newer term for lying).

The Ann Arbor District Library has several books you can read about this fascinating and dark period of American history.

The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts
The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth by Ronald Radosh
Early Cold War Spies by John Haynes

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau

American Earth, a hefty collection of essays and poetry, reads like a who's who of the shining stars of the environmental movement. Such literary environmentalists as Wendell Berry and John Burroughs; contemporary foodies Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan; poets Mary Oliver and Gary Snyder and activists John Muir, Julia Butterfly Hill and Cesar Chavez are represented, and join the voices of 92 other advocates for protecting and preserving the natural heritage of our planet. Edited by Bill McKibben, a prolific author and activist himself, this timely and thought-provoking book gives a picture of the long history and creativity of the environmental imagination. The range of material and diversity of authors - farmers, scientists, university professors, economists, singers, two presidents and one vice-president - means there is something here for everyone.

Local Car Historian Bob Elton Presents A Brief History of Chrysler Corporation

Monday July 7, 2008: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The story of Chrysler Corporation is an epic story of bold, ambitious men, horrible mismanagement, bad luck, gritty perseverance and the will to never say die.

Local car historian Bob Elton presents a fascinating introduction to this once great auto empire. This lecture holds particular relevance, considering the current economic outlook facing automakers today.

This event is held in conjunction with the Main Street Area Association’s July 11 Rolling Sculpture Car Show and cosponsored by the Main Street Area Association. Mr. Elton is one of the founders of the Rolling Sculpture Car Show. Check that out this Friday to see some amazing automobiles.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #116

Lauren Groff's "exuberant" debut The Monsters of Templeton* is a "fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure".

Pregnant and troubled, archaeology student Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton slinks home to Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her professor, on the very day a long-feared sea monster surfaces in Lake Glimmerglass, quite dead. When Vi, Willie's flower-child mother let slip that Willie's father is in fact a respected citizen in town rather than a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, Willie dives headlong into untangling the roots of the town's greatest families and her father's identity.

Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians — as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers, Groff, a native of Cooperstown(on which Templeton is based), will delight readers with Willie's sharp wit, literary/historical references and lore.

* = Starred Reviews

As for justice, he was "Supreme."

Today, July 2, is the birthday of Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice from 1967 until his death in 1993. Marshall was a champion for justice even from his days as a young lawyer when he sued the University of Maryland for racial discrimination in not admitting a black student as he had not been admitted a few years earlier. He went on to become the legal director of the NAACP where he won the landmark case of Brown Vs. the Board of Education in 1954, legally ending segregation in public schools. Marshall went on to argue and win 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Laika

In Laika, Nick Abadzis beautifully and compassionately tells the sad tale of Sputnik II and Laika, the Russian dog who became Earth's first space traveler. Abadzis carefully blends fact with fiction to show the human side of the overtly political Soviet Space Program of the 1950s. Unfortunately, we all know that Laika's story does not have a happy ending. There was never a plan for her return. Abadzis takes full advantage of the affordances of comics storytelling, using thoughtful and poetic page layouts to fully investigate the inner lives of the characters and their struggles. The panels themselves are packed full of visual information--including phases of the moon depicted accurately to the date of the events within the story. Abadzis explores the fragile balance between obligation to one's duties and having to live with the consequences.
If you'd rather have a happy ending, try Pupniks by S. Ruth Lubka. It tells the story of Sputnik 5, in which Belka and Strelka returned safely to Earth in 1960.

World War II battle to be remembered

earthearth

It's not easy to imagine a battle that eventually brought enemies together, starting with American and German planes in the sky over Germany. But we'll get some serious help Thursday 7-8:30 p.m. in the Downtown Multi-Purpose room, when the daughter of one of the men in the battle will speak. Linda Alice Dewey, President of the Kassel Mission Historical Society, will talk about this ill-fated mission of World War II, which occurred Sept. 27, 1944, and lasted only about three minutes. I'm particularly eager to hear about the effort instigated by her father, the late William R. Dewey, to erect a memorial. See you at this fascinating library event.

Music in Ypsi

This summer's Ypsilanti Crossroads Music Festival will be kicking off again on June 6th! Be sure to check out the event and appreciate our neighboring city. It will take place at the intersection of Washington and Pearl Streets every Friday night this summer from 7-10 pm. In the meantime, check out our collection on Ypsilanti history, including Ypsilanti in the 20th Century, Ypsilanti: A History in Pictures, and Our Heritage: Down by the Depot in Ypsilanti.

Get Your Game On! Strategy Style....

Settlers of CatanSettlers of Catan

Join us for an afternoon of strategy and fun gameplay - this Sunday, March 30 from 1:00-4:00 PM @ the Downtown Library (in the MP room)! The library owns copies of the award-winning Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Condotierre and Chrononauts, but attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring along their favorite Euro-style board game (no Monopoly or Sorry here!). Bring friends, learn to play a new game, or teach someone to play your fave - Teens in grades 6 & up and adults are welcome! These may be no-tech games, but there are definately not no-fun. Alex Horvath, owner of the store Get Your Game On (on Packard @ State) will be there to play games and offer a coupon to his store for attendees. Snack and drinks will be served - see you there!

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