In the Mail

Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker

Publishers Weekly

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“Burning a village properly takes a long time,” wrote a British commander in Iraq in 1920. In this sometimes astonishing yet perplexing account of the destructive futility of war, NBCC award–winning writer Baker (Double Fold) traces a direct line from there to WWII, when Flying Fortresses and incendiary bombs made it possible to burn a city in almost no time at all. Central to Baker’s episodic narrative- a chronological juxtaposition of discrete moments from 1892 to December 31, 1941-are accounts from contemporary reports of Britain’s terror campaign of repeatedly bombing German cities even before the London blitz. The large chorus of voices echoing here range from pacifists like Quaker Clarence Pickett to the seemingly cynical warmongering of Churchill and FDR; the rueful resignation of German-Jewish diarist Viktor Klemperer to Clementine Churchill’s hate-filled reference to “yellow Japanese lice.” Baker offers no judgment, but he also fails to offer context: was Hitler’s purported plan to send the Jews to Madagascar serious, or, as one leading historian has called it, a fiction? Baker gives no clue. Yet many incidents carry an emotional wallop-of anger and shock at actions on all sides-that could force one to reconsider means and ends even in a “good” war and to view the word “terror” in a very discomfiting context.

 

A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit by Sarah Sentilles

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Book Description

Thirty years after the first group of women was ordained by the Episcopal Church, women are among some of the most vital and successful ministers in all Protestant denominations, even as churches struggle to hold on to their members. Sarah Sentilles enters the lives of female ministers—women of various ages and races, in a range of churches—to paint the first real portrait of what it’s like to serve as a woman of faith today.

Sometimes triumphant, sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, their stories take us from their calls to the pulpit through their ordinations and service in congregations. These women show us how the church can be more welcoming to the women who are its lifeblood. And in their inspiring determination to perform the ministry to which they are called, no matter what the obstacles, we might well see the future of the church itself

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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