Thursday Reading Links #59 (Cold War Edition)

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I don’t have any appropriate pictures for this post, so let’s just pretend this trail from my walk is a dead drop.

I’m working on a series of novels (Book 1 is in the editing phase, Book 2 needs to be rewritten and Books 3, 4 and 5 are in the draft outline phase) set during the Cold War. So, I thought I would make today’s reading links all about the Cold War.

What I Learned From Women Who Were Prisoners of the Gulag.

The Long History of the Red Scare as an American Political Tactic, an interview with Kathryn Olmstead, professor of history at the University of California, Davis.

Capitalism’s Baby Mania.

Nazi who arrested Anne Frank became a spy for West Germany.

Activist or spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist.

Four Books about the Cold War.

My life under surveillance after I married a KGB agent.

Not about the Cold War, but set during the Reagan administration: Dee Snider on PMRC Hearing: I Was a Public Enemy. Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister talks about his senate hearing. It’s a fascinating read because he is being brutally honest and doesn’t mind calling people on their hypocrisy. I had no idea that this was even an issue in the 1980s. Sometimes I wonder if politicians create drama and waste taxpayer money because they have too much time on their hands. (Sounds like Dee would agree with me.)

Let me know what you think of the articles.

xoxo, Jane

Favorite Book Series: Clara Vine

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Clara Vine is a brilliant series written by author Jane Thynne. Clara Vine is a British out-of-work actress who, upon the advice of an acquaintance, relocates to pre-war Germany to find work at the Babelsberg Studio in Berlin.

However once there, she finds herself entangled with the wives of high-ranking Nazis. This comes to the attention of British intelligence who persuade her to spy for them. This series has it all: romance, suspense and espionage. It will grip you from beginning to end.

Clara Vine is a very nice woman: intelligent, kind, and thoughtful. Caught in a web of espionage, she tries to keep secret that she is partly Jewish. But to stay alive as a non-Aryan in Nazi Germany is not easy. There is a very good reason why, after five novels, she doesn’t return to Britain. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t say the reason, but as a woman I completely understand Clara’s reasoning.

If you need to lose yourself in a new series, especially now in our troubled, sad and uncertain times, I highly recommend the Clara Vine books.

You can learn more about Jane Thynne here. Also, there is a very good Q&A about the Nazi wives on the author’s website that I recommend giving a read.

Have a wonderful day and stay safe!

xoxo, Jane

Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan

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Reading good books with interesting historical plots makes me want to know more about the real life history. The Queen of Paris is no exception. Reading it just made me want to learn more about Coco Chanel, especially about her collaboration with the Nazis. What really led her down that awful path? Did she regret it? Is that why she fled to Switzerland after Paris was liberated?

The author of The Queen of Paris, Pamela Binnings Ewen, said she used Sleeping with the Enemy by Hal Vaughan as part of her research, which inspired me to buy this book.

I am hoping my questions will be answered in Sleeping With the Enemy. Mr. Vaughan’s findings from his investigation into Coco’s life during Nazi-occupied Paris are revealed for the first time in this book.  It was published in 2011 and since then other books about her Nazi past have been written, but this is the book that started it all.

Also, Mr. Vaughan’s book dedication gave me the chills: “This book is dedicated to those French men and women who, though bent by the Nazi yoke, refused to to collaborate. And as always, for Phuong.” 

I look forward to reading this book and learning more, even if it will be unpleasant.

What’s on your nightstand?

xoxo, Jane

The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen

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Women in History – Eloise Randolph Page, the Iron Butterfly

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Women (and their accomplishments) are often left out of history. This is nothing new and we are well aware of it. It’s not right and it’s not fair. I’m going to do my part to write about women in history (especially in the Cold War era). Please join me as we kick off this new series with Miss Eloise Randolph Page.

Eloise Page began her career as a secretary in the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) in 1947. What’s remarkable about her is that she moved up through the ranks to become the CIA’s first Chief of Station in an era where women in intelligence were simply not promoted.

Miss Page was born in Richmond, Virginia. Emphasis on the Miss. She did not like being referred to as Ms. Miss Page never married or had children. Instead, she chose to break the glass ceiling in the intelligence community, steadily climbing through the ranks and eventually earning the nickname “the Iron Butterfly.” She retired in 1987 as one of the highest ranking female officer.

Miss Page is not mentioned in my Encyclopedia of the Cold War which I find to be a grave oversight. She is, however, mentioned in Spy Sites of Washington, D.C. which is how she came to my attention. 

I tip my hat to this incredible woman who paved the way for other women to lead in intelligence. 

 

(Image via Pexels.com)

A very short history of The Lutetia Hotel in Paris

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They say that old mansions and grand hotels are haunted by ghosts. If that’s true, then the Lutetia Hotel in the 6th arrondissement of Paris is the most haunted of them all. 

If ghosts exist, then the corridors of this storied hotel must be filled with the spirits of cabaret singers, artists, writers, Josephine Baker and Nazis.

Built in 1910, during France’s Belle Époque, this architectural gem hosted James Joyce where he wrote parts of Ulysses. Josephine Baker and Picasso were regular guests, as was Ernest Hemingway. 

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A young Charles De Gaulle stayed there for his honeymoon. And it was this fortuitous visit that would change the course of the hotel’s history.

During the occupation of Paris, the Nazis requisitioned the hotel to house and feed their officers and French collaborators. 

After the war was over, hundreds of thousands of former prisoners and Holocaust survivors began to make the trek home to France. The now General Charles de Gaulle remembered his luxurious stay at the Lutetia and demanded that the hotel house the survivors of the Holocaust because he wanted them to be housed in comfort after the horrors they suffered.

And this is how it came to be that the grandest hotel in Paris opened its doors to displaced persons and Holocaust survivors. The first survivors arrived at the hotel in April 1945. They received food, shelter, money and clothing.

The hotel also became the Paris headquarters for those searching for loved ones or waiting on Red Cross updates of family members sent to camps. An entire wall of the hotel was filled with photographs of missing persons. Relatives desperate for reunification with loved ones regularly stopped by to see whether missing family and friends had arrived from the camps. 

The last displaced person left the hotel in September 1945. Soon thereafter the hotel reopened its doors for business as usual and celebrities once again flocked to the grandest hotel in Paris. 

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The Lutetia closed in 2014 for renovations and reopened in 2018. The old-fashioned decor was replaced by chic, contemporary pieces. The dark paneling was removed to make room for a marbled lobby that boasts an airy, light-filled space. Once again, celebrities and the well-to-do made the Lutetia Hotel their home away from home.

As for the ghosts, they probably still roam the halls. 

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Note: If you want to learn more about the Holocaust survivors who stayed at the Lutetia Hotel, please search for “Lutetia Hotel” at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

The Battle of Peleliu

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Island of Peleliu.

Today in the United States we honor our military veterans. But the truth is, I don’t need a special day to commemorate them because I think of them every single day. Whether it’s my brother who fought in the Middle East or my ancestors who fought in Europe, I think of their service every day.

Recently we made a special trip to Palau in honor of the 75th anniversary of the battles of Peleliu and Angaur. We were there in memory of a cherished family member who fought on both islands. The Americans assaulted these islands in the fall of 1944 in order to seize a Japanese airfield and thereby protect General Douglas MacArthur’s flank as he returned to the Philippines.

The battle between the Americans and the Japanese military forces occupying these islands saw some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific during World War II. After a battle that lasted over two months, the Japanese were defeated and Peleliu was occupied by the American military for a time. Palau ultimately became independent 25 years ago (1994).

For me, it was emotional to be on the island because it is obvious Palauans have not forgotten, nor will they ever forget, the sacrifices of the US military to free Palau.

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This is a picture of White Beach, Peleliu where the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division landed on Peleliu on September 15, 1944. The Marines suffered scores of casualties here and the beach is still littered with pieces of the American landing craft that were destroyed during the invasion.

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Scattered remnants of the war remain visible throughout Peleliu. This is a picture of the cave that served as the final command post for the Japanese commanders, Colonel Kunio Nakagawa and General Kenjiro Murai. Near the end of the battle, they committed suicide here. Today the Japanese travel here to pay tribute to them and the thousands of other lives lost on both sides during the battle.

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This is a Japanese tank destroyed early in the battle and now is part of the landscape.

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This is a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry “Wildcat” Division. All remains of American servicemen lost on Peleliu and Angaur have been brought home to the US or interned in US military cemeteries elsewhere (like in the Philippines).

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To the right, you’ll see a very special plaque recently placed near Orange Beach (another one of the landing beaches on Peleliu), which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the battle.

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For veterans and servicemen and women, from the bottom of my heart I say thank you for your service. Though my thanks could never ever be enough for what you have done (and continue to do) for our country.

Thursday Reading Links #32

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Well, it may be fall but it feels like winter in my neck of the woods. Stay warm and cozy, wherever you may be. 

Libraries to boycott publisher’s e-book policy

My recent quarterly reading wrap-up can be found here and here.

This is so dear. Fake chimneys for birds that need vertical hollows to rest.

Marie Antoinette’s Favorite Things You Can Still Buy Today.

Did you know that Danielle Steel has a blog? And she updates regularly.

Cute To Go Tea Mug

In praise of having a “boring” wardrobe. (This is from The Telegraph and there may be a log-in required if you exceeded your free articles per month.)

The best pore-cleansing toners and the best new face washes

On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II. 

It never ceases to amaze me that we have such incredible art right here in my city of Washington, D.C., such as this historic painting of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The National Gallery of Art published a wonderful publication about French paintings of the 19th century and can be read here for free. 

November babies, I guess life is more interesting as a Scorpio

xoxo, Jane

Image via Pexels.com

 

Thursday Reading Links (on a Saturday) #31

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Halloween is over, it’s November. This means the most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner.

If you’re in the USA, don’t forget to change the clocks this weekend.

Fall Favorites.

Sylvia Plath was a Google doodle earlier this week. The Independent wrote an article about her, for those who aren’t too familiar with her work.

I published two book reviews this week, here and here.

Why don’t I have any famous paintings sitting around my house? A Random Painting in a Woman’s House Sold for $26.8 Million.

How true could this worry really be? We’ll probably never know. Prince Charles Staff Nervous About The Crown’s New Season.

To-do lists are a curse of your own making.

I like these bow and pearl drop earrings, but the price tag of $100.00 is silly.

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Oooh, I like this idea. This Fall, Pair Your Candles For Maximum Coziness.

Little Red Dresses.

Zac Possen no more. I feel bad for the employees. They are out of a job overnight and it’s not fair to them. I don’t think CEOs and other corporate leaders really think of the employees when the going gets tough.

Quiz: What Holiday Romance Should You Read? My answer was The Matchmaker’s Mistletoe Mission by Jaci Burton.

The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books.

Some of The Deadliest Samurai Were Women, But History Forgot. History seems to always forget about the women.

xoxo, Jane

Images via Pexels.com

Thursday Reading Links #30

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Today it’s a little bit of book news, a little bit of art news, a little bit of royals and a little bit of military history. Happy Reading!

Did you hear that another painting stolen by the Nazis has been recovered? Bravo to the person who recognized the stolen artwork.

I was not expecting so much controversy about the France 2024 Olympics logo. Personally, I love it. What do you think?

If you are a royal watcher like me, you might enjoy reading this article from Reuters about the heir to the Japanese throne. The current Emperor doesn’t have any sons, so his younger brother is next in line and after that his young son. The Emperor does have a daughter. A very lovely and intelligent daughter. But because she is female she may not ascend to the throne. I have thoughts on this that I’ll keep to myself.

The BBC has a fun article on rewatching old films.

Another interesting piece by the BBC, how art created stereotypes of the Arab world.

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This is so true: if indie bookstores want to be inclusive, they need to highlight romance.

Fortnum’s timeline: the first 312 years. This was so much fun to read. I love Fortnums!

I need to live inside this old manor house. I can picture me drinking my Fortnums tea in the garden.

Quiz: Which Classic Mystery Should You Read? I took the quiz and my answer was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Helen Mirren’s Costumes in ‘Catherine the Great’ Are a Gorgeous History Lesson.

The Monuments Men (and WOMEN) are back!!

Feminize Your Canon: Iris Origo.

 

Images via Pexels.com

 

Four Books About The Cold War

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I’m intrigued by the Cold War era for so many different reasons. It’s why I set my own fiction during this era (more on that another day).

So, it’s no surprise that I read a lot of non-fiction books about the Cold War. I wanted to share a few of them with you. Let me know what you think or if you’ve read any of these.

Iron Curtain – The Crushing of Eastern Europe by Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for The Washington Post. Iron Curtain covers the horrifying period in Eastern Europe between 1944-1956. The dedication in this book gives me the chills: “This book is dedicated to those Eastern Europeans who refused to live within a lie.”

Vaclav Havel

Spymaster: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West by Oleg Kalugin

This book is written by former KGB general, Oleg Kalugin, who spent decades spying in America. Eventually he grew disillusioned with the Soviet system and its institutional corruption. He went public about it all in 1990 and now lives in Washington D.C.

Spy Sites of Washington, DC by Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton

This is a fun read and I highly recommend it. It covers espionage in Washington, D.C. between the years 1790 and 2016. I bought it for the extensive Cold War section. What’s fascinating (and fun) is that the book actually gives you physical addresses of buildings and homes where spy activities took place, including dead drop locations.

A Spy Among Friends: Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

If you are at all interested in the Cambridge Five, I’d read this book. It’s a comprehensive volume of Kim Philby’s life as a double agent. I am fascinated by Kim Philby. Not because he was such a stellar guy (he wasn’t) but because I can’t understand giving it all up to live behind the Iron Curtain. For those who don’t know about the Cambridge Five, they were a network of privileged young men recruited by the KGB at Cambridge. Philby was one of them. He defected to Moscow in 1963 because he was about to be outed as a mole. He died with full Soviet honors in 1988.

Do you have any favorite non-fiction books about the Cold War?

xoxo, Jane