Friday Reads: Daring Young Men
“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work. Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read. Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things. Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too. No matter the source, good reads are featured here.
On June 1st the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed a book that was a little outside of our usual parameters. Daring Young Men: the heroism and triumph of The Berlin Airlift, June 1948 – May, 1949 by Richard Reeves, was light on the narrative and heavy on facts and figures, but it was fascinating reading.
Reeves, a lecturer, syndicated columnist and noted presidential biographer who “has received dozens of awards for his work in print, television and film” did extensive research from hitherto unpublished papers to recount in detail the Berlin Airlift. (From the author’s official website, richardreeeves.com) This amazing organizational feat supplied a city of over 2 million people with food and necessities for almost a year, all delivered by small airplanes. Furthermore, this generous and daring mission was performed primarily by the U.S. Air Force and British Royal Air Force who had been bombing the city to smithereens only a couple years earlier.
Some readers struggled with the amount of figures, details and lists of supplies, etc. The intended audience was a clearly a World War II history buff or strategic planner who revels in minutiae. But for those of us who came to the discussion, which was a high number, especially in view of the rare glorious morning we had, we were happy to have read the book because we all felt that what we learned was important and interesting. We gained respect for the magnitude of the undertaking, the humanitarian leadership coming from President Truman, and the bravery of the “daring young men.”
Next month we will discuss another war book, but it will be a different writing style altogether: jaunty, narrative and reflective. Join us on Thursday, July 6 at 10 AM for Confederates in the Attic: dispatches from the unfinished Civil War, by Martha’s Vineyard author, Tony Horwitz. I predict it will be a great hour.