Monday, November 18, 2013

Jim Landau has suggested a book for us, Dare Call it Treason: The True Story of the French Army Mutinies of 1917 by Richard M. Watt. He notes that "Despite its title, this book covers in some detail French politics and political intrigue during World War I, with a good deal of earlier background that helps to understand what was going on in French politics during the War.  For example, it tries to figure out just what Joseph Caillaux was thinking, and traces the rise of Clemenceau.  I read this book in high school and was impressed by it enough to do a term project based on it.

"About the title: Mr. Watt may have been playing on the title "None Dare Call It Treason", which was a John Birch book widely available when Watt's book appeared in 1963.

"I rate this book as Beacon: 'great, but highly focussed.'"

He makes two other suggestions: "C. S. Forester, author of the Hornblower series, wrote two novels about World War I, both of which I have read:

"The General.  This is a character study of a fictional British officer who rose to an important command in the War.  I find the book disappointing because Forester chose an unflattering stereotype of the British army officer as someone of limited imagination and/or mental capacity.  Most likely Forester was trying to present an understanding of the high casualties and limited gains of trench warfare in France as being the result of shortsighted, mentally blinkered British officers.  Strachan certainly does not agree with this stereotype!  Like all Forester books, it is quite readable, but in my opinion it has an axe to grind. Therefore I rate this book as "Aunt Minnie" (too opinionated)

"The African Queen.  This is the book the Humphrey Bogart-Katherine Hepburn movie was taken from.  It takes place during World War I, in Africa, but it an adventure story about the Hepburn character and has little to do with the war (there is only one battle sequence and that lasts for only a few pages).  So unless you would like to read about why the Hepburn character decides to go to war, it is not relevant to our book club.  Therefore I have to give this book a rating of Fortune Cookie: superficial."

Thanks, Jim!

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