Books From My Closet

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Archive for the tag “AmericanHistory”

Not In America..

“We hope for better things, it will rise from the ashes” – Jeffrey Eugenides

On September 11, 2001,  3,000 lives were taken when two airplanes hit the World Trade Center in New York City , one airplane slammed into the Pentagon, in Washington D.C. and one in an open field in Pennsylvania, many believed was headed for the Capitol.

This was an act of terrorism that our country was not accoustomed to, sure we heard about similar acts in other countries, or in our history books, but never as an eyewitness.

It changed our country’s view of  safety, it launched us into a war we are still fighting,  back then we thought were safe, but now all we wait for is for the terrorists to do it again.

The truth is, our country has been fighting acts of terrorism since before  the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In the later half of the 18th-century, an American Revolution broke out when the 13 colonies joined to make the United States of America.

On April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by actor John Wilkes Booth just days after the Civil War was drawing to a close.

Our country has gone through two World Wars, on Dec. 7, 1941, the naval base on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese navy. This was a preventative action to keep U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions with the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

On November 22,1963, Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy while the Presidential motorcade drove openly in the streets of Dallas, Texas. This was an act of terrorism, an act that changed our nation in many ways  for years to come.

(I swear I have a point here, it came to me while I was reading…)

In Detroit on July 23, 1967, a police rade of an unlicensed after-hours bar known then as the “blindpig” located on the corner of 12 and Clairmont Streets near Detroit’s West side, police confrontations with patrons and observers evolved into one of the deadliest and destructive riots/insurrections in American history lasting for five days surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit’s 1943 race riot which occurred 24 years earlier.

This act of terrorism, was recounted in the beginning of Book 3 of “Middlesex”, now while I usually wait for the end, I felt strongly about what I read and I felt I could form an opinion about this. The truth is, it would be a joke to think we are safe from terrorists both overseas and domestic. We aren’t.

In the last 10 years or so , we have experienced acts of terrorism in our schools beginning with Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado,  on April 20, 1999 and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16, 2007.

In Book 3, Calliope said it best (it was what sparked this post) “To live in America, until recently, mean to be far from war. Wars happened in Southeast Asian jungles, they happened in the Middle Eastern deserts, They happened as the old song has it, “over there”.”

Believe it or not, it has and can happen in our own backyards. Generations of families have buried loved ones because of war.  It isn’t happening “over there” it is happening right here and while we are a long way away from stopping war, we must certainly try.  War of any kind changes people, it changes a community and a nation.

What I also realized while I was reading this section was that Calliope’s theory about war has not changed much in the last 4o something years. We still have this naive notion that stuff like that happens “over there” wherever “over there” actually is. In reality, we have experienced as a nation many acts of violence and terrorism in front of our own two eyes.

I’m sorry if this may be too political to some readers, but I felt it should be noted.

***Information in this article was from Wikipedia, with the exception of dates, I actually knew all of them by heart!***

Middlesex: Book 2

Image from the Prohibition Era of the 1920s-1930s

Hello My Dear Followers,

Well, I finished Book 2 and last night I thought about what I would say to my readers about Book 2. It spans a great amount of time, beginning with Desdemona and Lefty coming to this country and beginning their lives as Americans in Detroit, Michigan.  The narrator, Calliope or Callie or Cal, whatever you want to call him/her narrates the section best, so I thought it was only fair to just quote the passage that pretty much explains what happened. I will provide my commentary after. The section reverts back to the beginning of the book on the night Calliope is conceived and so begins he/she’s story.

“The thread began on a day two hundred and fifty years ago, when the biology Gods for their own amusement, monkeyed with a gene on a baby’s fifth chromosome. The baby passed the mutation on to her son, who passed it on to his two daughters, who passed it on to three of their children ( my great greats, etc) until finally it ended up in the bodies of my grandparents hitching a ride, the gene descended a mountain and left a village behind.  It got trapped in a burning building city and escaped, speaking bad French. Crossing the ocean, it faked a romance, circled a ship’s deck, and made love in a lifeboat.  It had its braids cut off. It took a train to Detroit and moved into a house on Hurlbut, it consulted dream books and opened an underground speakeasy; it got a job at Temp No. 1, and then the gene moved on again, into new bodies, it joined the Boy Scouts and painted its toenails red; it played “Begin and Beguine” out the back window; it took an entrance exam , posed like the move magazines, received a death sentence and made a deal with St. Christopher; it dated a future priest and broke off an engagement; it was saved by a bosom’s chair, always moving ahead, rushing along, only a few more curves left in the track now, Annapolis and a submarine chaser… until the biology gods knew this was their time, this what they’d been waiting for, and as a spoon swung and a yia yia worried, my destiny fell in place.”   (This is a direct quote from the book, a little long I know, but it is an excellent summary.)

That pretty much sums up the end of Book 1 and Book 2.  I think this book would make for an excellent movie, it’s the first book I have read in a long time that really allows you to escape to a different life and time. I haven’t done that in a long time.  I find I can relate to several aspects of this relating to the history of my own family coming to this country and starting a new life where language is a barrier.

My grandparents as I mentioned before met in this country, but both of them had immigrated from a life in Italy that was no longer suitable in hopes of living the American dream.  My grandparents like Desdemona and Lefty watched how a war-torn their country apart, living under the  dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. My grandmother told me she met or saw President Dwight D. Eisenhower as he traveled through her village of San Giorgio in Naples.

My grandfather told me his father came to this country before he was born during the time when Al Capone dictated the Mafia in Chicago and how his father who was once a wealthy man became poor.  These are just some of the stories that I have heard for years and years at the dinner table, while my grandmother was making sauce in the basement. My grandfather made a living using his talent as a tailor, my grandmother was a stay at home mother who only worked when she first arrived here.

I find it fascinating how a younger generation only learns of the events through their history books while some of our family members have actually lived what the books may not tell us.

I think this book so far, offers the reader a chance and live in the reality of these characters.  So until next time… Book 3 begins tonight!

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