Friday, March 20, 2015
Another tale of World War II is getting quite a bit of attention right now, this one on the fictional side. Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See came out on May 6 of last year and has been on the New York Times best sellers list nearly ever since, topping it several times and sitting even now at #2. A beautiful story of a young blind French girl and a German army radio expert, whose disparate paths somehow converge in the war’s closing days, it’s easy to understand how it has become and remained so popular.
Of course, there are any number of World War II stories for your interested patrons. On the literary side, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own favorites, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. These epic novels detail the lives of U.S. Navy Captain Victor Henry and his family as they are swept up in the events leading up to and carrying through the war. Books like Elie Wiesel’s Night and Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl detail the true-life horrors of the Holocaust, while the classic novel and Catch-22 injects an element of black humor into the dire situations facing those fighting the war on a day-to-day basis. There are even young adult books that address the war, like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Number the Stars, the Newbery Medal-winning novel from Lois Lowry.
For those who prefer movies to books, there are plenty of options as well. The aforementioned Winds of War and War and Remembrance were each made into miniseries starring Robert Mitchum as Captain Henry, and show the full scope of the war, including both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters as well as the Holocaust. Schindler’s List, detailing Oskar Schindler’s covert efforts to save lives during the Holocaust, is considered one of the best films of all time, while similarly acclaimed films like Saving Private Ryan and HBO’s Band of Brothers depict on-the-ground combat, as does the recently released Fury, starring Brad Pitt. To see how the war affected daily life at home, you can’t go wrong with The War, from documentarian Ken Burns.
And this is just scratching the surface of all the books and movies out there on the subject of World War II. What are some of your favorites, or what’s popular with patrons at your library? Tell us in the comments section below.