Sunday, August 31, 2008

La Prisonniere - Book Review

La Prisonniere
by Malika Oufkir (and Michele Fitoussi)
Bantam Books 2001

Malika Oufkir was born in 1953 to General Muhammed Oufkir and Fatima Chenna in Rabat, Morocco. General Oufkir was the advisor of King Muhammed V and later advisor to Muhammed's son King Hassan II.

Malika was the eldest of 6 children - her younger sisters Myriam, Maria (aka Mouna-Inna) and Soukaina and 2 younger brothers, Raouf and Abdellatif. Abdellatif was the youngest born in 1969.

When Malika was 5 years old, she was taken from her family home and sent to the royal palace, where she became a companion to King Muhammed's youngest daughter Lalla Mina (Meriem). Malika remained at the place for 10 years. During this time Mina and Malika were educated by a private tutor.

By the age of 15, (in 1968) Malika was becoming lonely and feeling abandoned by her family. So she pleaded with King Hassan to be allowed to return home. He gave his permission and Malika then spent 3 years at home getting to know her younger siblings all over again.

In 1972 Muhammed Oufkir (for reasons known only to himself) attempted a coup-de-tat to overthrow King Hassan. He was shot for his actions. His family - wife and all 6 children - were sent into exile in the deserts of Morocco.

Malika describes how they spent 1 year in the southern desert town of Assa, and then were moved to an old abandoned fortress in the high Atlas mountains not far from Ourazazate for 3 years. In 1977 the family were then moved to a place called Bir Jdid prison. A Barracks complex with cells. Up until now the family had been allowed to stay together. They had a small radio, books, reasonably good food, paper to write on, and were reciving some letters rom the outside. But when they were moved to Bir-Jdid, they were separated from each other and totally cut off from the world. Bir-Jdid was about 45 km south of Casablanca.

They were put into separate cells in small groups and were not allowed to see each other in person for almost 10 years. Fatima (the mother) and Abdellatif (the youngest child) were in one cell. Malika and her three sisters were in a second cell and Raouf the eldest son was in a cell on his own. With no books, no paper, and no windows, they lived in these cells for the next 10 years. The family quickly set up a device between the cells that allowed them to communicate. There was one radio which always had to be hidden away when the guards came around. The radio and Malika's stories allowed the Oufkir family to keep their sanity. Each cell was allowed out for exercise - but always on different days so they never met in person. The food was terrible and naturally they became ill. They were also starved and their bodies became like skin and bones.

In early 1987 after 9 years in this prison, they were finally able to escape by digging a tunnel. I'm not sure why they did not dig a tunnel earlier, I cant remember that Malika explains that.

Anyway 4 of the family escaped - Malika, Abdellatif, Maria and Raouf. They went to Casablanca, and Rabat and then to Tangiers. But every time they turned to their old friends, they were shunned. Finally they had to call on their family for help. But 5 days after their escape the police caught up with them. One of their friends had reported them to the authorities. While they were outside, Malika had managed to call one of the Radio stations in France and tell their story. This meant that France started asking questions. So when the 4 of them were recaptured, they were taken back to Casablanca and the entire family was then taken to a large house on the outskirts of Rabat where they were under house arrest. They lived here for another 4 years.

In 1991 The king finally pardoned them. Not because they kept asking - which they did - but because of the international uproar over their treatment and long imprisonment. The King was being embarrased about the way the political prisoners were being treated. So he was forced to set them free.

But they were not free. They spent 5 years back in Rabat being followed, spied on and had their phones tapped. In 1996 Maria escaped from Morocco to France via Spain, and again told the French her story. More uproar and eventually some members of the family were permitted to leave Morocco and move to France.

Malika now lives in Paris with her husband Eric Bordreuil. Malika was 19 when she was imprisoned. She was 43 when she was finally allowed to emigrate to France.

There is some criticism of this story - where some people simple refuse to beleive it. But Malika does say - I have not told everything that happened because they would not beleive me.

Time Magazine June 2001

I read this for the In Their Shoes Challenge

Friday, August 29, 2008

84 Charing Cross Road

84 Charing Cross Road
Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.
Movie - 1987

Oh I know I go on and on about Helene Hanff and this book, but I love it so much. Anyway, I finally got a copy from the library today (which I had reserved last week) and promptly sat down and read the entire book. It's not a thick book at all.

In fact it only took me 45 minutes to read the whole thing. I had also reserved the movie of the book (Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins) which I have not seen for many many years. It is available on DVD. Yippee. I must try and get my own copy.

Anyway as soon as I got home, I sat down and watched the movie. For a book that only takes 45 minutes to read, the way the screen writer managed to stretch it out for 100 minutes was excellent.

I also spent most of the day running all over downtown Toronto, buying second hand books, signing student loan papers and getting the money organised. That included having to find a post office I have never been too before, and signing the papers 5 times. Only to find out when I got home, that the post office had called home and told DH that I had only signed 5 times and they needed 6 signatures. So I needed to go back and sign the papers - again.

It was a relief to drop into the library on my way home the second time, stop and read my favourite book in just 45 minutes, and then rush home and watch my favourite movie before I had to go out again and pick up my son from daycare. I don't have any classes on Fridays.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Daughter of the Sun - Book Review

Daughter of the Sun
by Barbara Wood
St Martin's Griffin, NYC
September 2007
Barbara Wood's Website

Barbara Wood has been writing historical novels for about 30 years. Probably the first book of hers that I ever read was The Prophetess published in 1996.

Recently I picked up Daughter of the Sun from the Library. This turned out to be an excellent story. It is Ms Wood's attempt to explain how and why the Anasazi Indians abandoned their pueblos (in the Four Corners Area) some 800 years ago.

Hoshi'tiwa, was 17 years old and a gifted pottery maker. She belonged to the Tortoise Clan of what is now Colorado. She planned to marry Ahote, the storyteller's apprentice. Hoshi'tiwa's father was a farmer. He grew corn for the village to eat as well as corn to give to the gods.

Hoshi'tiwa's plans were turned upside down when she was snatched by the Toltec army and taken from her primitive village to "Center Place", an outpost of the Toltec empire. Centre Place is probably what is now Chaco Canyon.

Hoshi'tiwa was assigned to the Potter's Guild where she distinguished herself through her exotic and unusual pottery. She made rain pottery. Beautiful pots which were placed outside to entice the gods to let the rain come down. Because of her talent, Hoshi'tiwa was re-assigned to the Toltec leader's palace. Hoshi'tiwa unwittingly became the catalyst for the eventual downfall of Center Place and what historians now call "The Abandonment."

I love archaeology and history. I also love stories with strong females as the main character. Hoshi'tiwa is a very strong character. This was an excellent story. If you are curious to know how the Anasazi lived, then you will like this novel.

Here is a list of Barbara Wood's Books.
Daughter of the Sun, 2007 St. Martin's Press
Star of Babylon, 2005, Severn House
The Blessing Stone, 2002 St. Martin's Press
Sacred Ground, 2001 St. Martin's Press
Perfect Harmony, 1998 Little Brown
The Prophetess, 1996 Little Brown
Virgins of Paradise 1993, Random House
The Dreaming 1991 Random House
Green City in the Sun 1988 Random House
Soul Flame 1986 Random House
Vital Signs 1986 Doubleday
Domina 1983 Doubleday
The Watch Gods 1981 Dell
Childsong 1981 Doubleday
Night Trains 1979 Morrow & Co
Yesterday's Child 1979 Doubleday
Curse This House 1978 Dell
Hounds and Jackals 1978, Doubleday
The Magdalene Scrolls 1978 Doubleday

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book Blogg Appreciation Week - Choose the Best

A few days ago I mentioned that Book Blog Appreciation week was coming up next month.

Right now you can all vote for your favourite Book Blogs.
Hurry - this closes on August 31st - just 4 days away.

You can nominate up to two blogs per category and send an email to Bbawawards [AT]gmail [DOT] com with your choices!! You can also nominate your own blog if you so wish. Here is the list.

Best General Book Blog
Best Kidlit Blog
Best Christian/Inspirational Fiction Blog
Best Literary Fiction Blog
Best Book Club Blog
Best Romance Blog
Best Thrillers/Mystery/Suspense Blog
Best Non-fiction Blog BIBLIOHISTORIA
Best Young Adult Lit Blog
Best Book/Publishing Industry Blog
Best Challenge Host
Best Community Builder
Best Cookbook Blog
Best History/Historical Fiction Blog BIBLIOHISTORIA
Best Design
Most Chatty
Most Concise
Most Eclectic Taste
Best Name for a Blog
Best Published Author Blog
Best Book published in 2008
Best Meme/Carnival/Event
Most Extravagant Giveaways
Best Book Community site

Write In Do you think we missed something? Write in your category and nomination and if there are enough other write-ins of the same category it will be added!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Last summer days and Buskerfest

This is the last week of the Summer Vacation and my son has been moved up to the Grade 1 room at daycare starting today. He starts Grade 1 at school next week (Tuesday 2nd September - Monday is a holiday. Labour Day I think). Buskerfest was on this weekend, and my son and I spent both Saturday and Sunday at Buskerfest. It's only a 20 minute walk away from home.

I did not get to read much. I was too busy chasing after my son as he ran up and down the street looking for slinky's. He was not able to get one and was rather upset. He even got lost at one point. The estimate for the crowd was well over half a million. I dont think it was that big. People stay a long time, and its very hard to count people moving around all the time.

Anyway, my son is a very independent kid, even at age 6. He wanted to run faster instead of walking at my slow pace. So I thought we agreed he can go to the kids tent and ask if they have slinky's and then stay there. My feet were sore and I was limping rather slowly - as well as carrying bags of jackets, water bottles and all the other free junk one usually picks up.

When I got ot the kids tent, he wasn't there. He had been there asking for slinky's and when they said they didnt have any, he took off again. So I walked around looking for him. Nothing, so I stopped a cop walking past and said my son was missing. He wrote the details down, and as he was getting out his walkie talkie, he heard a message on the walkie talkie. A-B-C is at the information tent looking for his parent. The cop recognised the name as the one I had just given him, so we went to the information tent and there he was.

They looked after him very well. He was given a free ice cream voucher and a nice cold bottle of water. So we got the ice cream. He was a very smart boy to go to the information tent. I was very silly to not think of going to the information tent.

What I didn't know was that my husband was also at the Buskerfest looking for us. He says he spent 2 hours there in the blazing hot sun looking for us. He didnt see us so he went home again.

The weather forecast said it was supposed to rain and it was cloudy when we left home. Thats why we had our jackets and no caps. Sure enough about 30 minutes after we arrived, the clouds gave up their water and it poured. Fortunately for Toronto, when it pours, its usually pretty quick. Within 20 minutes the rain had stopped, and the clouds went away. Within another hour it was a clear blue sky, and a hot blazing sun. My face is now all red because I forgot to bring caps.

My son's favourite act was the FireGuy (Brant Matthews). I dont know why the Fireguy is not on the official performers list.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sean Bean The Biography - Book Review

Sean Bean The Biography
By Laura Jackson
Piatkus 2000
Compleat Sean Bean

Sean Bean was born Shaun Bean in Sheffield, Northern England in 1959. He has a strong Sheffield accent, but can also do many other accents when required.

Sean grew up a dedicated fan of the local football (soccer) club - Sheffield United. Although one does need to note that the city of Sheffield has two teams - the other one being Sheffield Wednesday. After high school and one year at the local college, Sean applied for and attended the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in London. After graduation (1983) Sean got his start in acting by doing small parts on stage. However he didn't really became famous until he was roped in to do the Sharpe TV series.

The Sharpe books are written by Bernard Cornwell. The main character is Richard Sharpe, a Sergeant in the English army in France fighting Napoleon. He saves the life of General Arthur Wellesley (who later became the Duke of Wellington), and the General raises Sharpe to the gentleman's rank of Lieutenant. The series of books, and movies follows Sharpes and the The Chosen Ones (his sniper unit) in their adventures across France and Spain during the Napoleonic wars.

Next I saw Sean Bean in the James Bond movie - Goldeneye (1995) - starring the new James Bond, Pierce Brosnan. Sean played Janus, the baddie.

From there, Sean has gone onto play many different roles in both UK and USA. He is one of my all time favourite actors.

This was a very interested biography. I know this review is short, but when Bean's life is an open book (and on the IMDB) then there's not too much else I can add.

I read this book for the Memoir Challenge. Here are some Pictures of Sean's most famous roles.

Lord of the Rings - Boromir

National Treasure - Howe

Goldeneye - Janus

Sharpe - Richard Sharpe

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Memories - 84 Charing Cross Road

1 minute 26 seconds

The trailer of the original movie - made in 1987.
Gosh I havent seen it for such a long time.
This is one of my all time favourite movies and books.

1 minute 56 seconds

Another scene in the movie where Frank Dole thinks the mystery women is Ms Hanff. But when she gives her address, he realises it is not Ms Hanff, and starts reciting a love poem.

I really really want to see this movie. I dont think I have seen it for well over 15 years. I really have to find it on DVD somewhere.

Please excuse my going on about this author, book and movie, but you can blame the Book Hunter for that. She mentioned Helene Hanff in her post from last night.

Oh and yes, and if you are wondering why I am posting this at 4 o'clock in the morning? I had a really bad headache last night and went to be at 7.30 pm. Which is BEFORE my son. He goes to bed at 8. DH read him his stories and put him to bed. I woke up at 3.30 (that was 8 hours sleep) feeling much better. But now I cant go back to sleep. LOL

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anne of Green Gables at the CNE

Well my husband went to the CNE today to see the AOGG exhibition. He is not a reader. He was curious to see what it was like, and reported that it was not very big. About the size of our lounge. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment. Our lounge is not very big.

Closeup of the sign at the entrance. DH was also a sweetie and purchased a bound copy of LMM's biography called The Alpine Path for me. That cost $11. LM Montgomery married a pastor and they moved to Leaskdale in Ontario, not far from Uxbridge (NE of Toronto). Although the first book Anne of Green Gables was written in Prince Edward Island, most of the rest of the books were actually written in Ontario.

This is an example of a school room. On the blackboard (at top right in this photo) were written the lines "Anne Shirley has a very bad temper".

And lastly this is a portrait of L.M. Montgomery. There were other things at this exhibit, such as mannequins wearing clothes from the 1985 TV series and lots of photos on the walls. Unfortunately DH was trying out a new camera, and some of the photos are blurry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anne of Green Gables - 100 Years Anniversary

As you all know, I have been supporting the 100th Anniversary of Anne of Green Gables this year. For those of you who live in Ontario, Toronto or anywhere else in Canada, the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) has begun. There is an exhibition of Anne of Green Gables on. My husband is going to see it tomorrow.

100 Years of Anne (Scroll Down)
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Anne of Green Gables
Heritage Court, Direct Energy Centre, (MAP)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario (LMMSO) and Uxbridge Township in association with Gribble Landscape Creations (GLC) bring to the CNE a fascinating tribute to this popular Canadian author in an exhibit celebrating her many literary accomplishments as well as her love of the garden. Her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables (first published in 1908) celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

The enchanting CNE exhibit will showcase the author’s writing and photography, her love of gardens through beautiful landscape installations, her life at Leaskdale, Ontario and the world of her most famous heroine: Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables.

How much does it cost to attend the CNE?
General Admission = $14,
Seniors (60 & better) = $10,
Children (13 & under) = $10,
Babes in Arms (2 yrs. & under) = free,
Disabled and Anyone riding a Medical Scooter = free
Family Pass (2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children) = $42.

All prices include GST and are PST exempt.

I married the Klondike - Book Review

I married the Klondike
By Laura Beatrice Berton
Hutchinson 1955

I popped into a Goodwill shop on my way home after school yesterday and found 2 more Berton books I can read for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. One was The Canadian Invasion about the 1812 war, and the other was I married the Klondike.

I read Pierre Berton's memoirs last year for the 1st Canadian Book challenge. In his memoirs, Pierre mention that his mother had also written a book. I married the Klondike is the title of the memoirs of Pierre's mother Laura Beatrice Berton, nee Thompson. I have been hoping to find it to read.

My book has no dustcover, so the picture above is just a nice one I found online. I have no idea what the dust jacket looks like for my book.

Anyway, in 1908 when Laura Thompson was 29 years old, she was asked to be the school teacher in Dawson, Yukon. At that time Laura was earning $480 per year as a teacher in Toronto. Dawson city was offering her $2100 per year. It was, of course an easy offer to accept.

Laura traveled to Vancouver and then by ferry north to Skagway in Alaska. Then a train trip over the mountains to Whitehorse, and lastly a steamboat ride down the Yukon river to Dawson. Along the way Laura met the poet Robert Service. Robert eventually settled in a house across the road from the Bertons house in Dawson. It is still a tourist site today.

Laura writes about the midnight sun. The fact is that the sun does set at midnight in Dawson in the summer, but only for an hour and a half. This is because Dawson is 200 miles south of the Arctic circle.

She writes about the hard life looking for gold, the high prices of food and clothes because almost everything had to be shipped in from Outside. She writes about life in the mining camps, and life in Dawson when Dawson was cut off from the Outside world during the winter. She wrote quite a lot about Robert Service, the poet.

Laura writes about meeting Frank Berton and eventually getting married to him in 1912. During the first year of their marriage, Laura and Frank lived in a Mining Camp in Sourdough Gully some miles out of Dawson. Then Frank was posted to Dawson City as the Mining Recorder.

When world war one broke out, most of the men in Dawson city signed up. Frank did as well. As an engineer, he was posted to the Royal Canadian Engineers Corps based in Vancouver. So in 1914 the Bertons left Dawson city and moved to Vancouver. It would be five years before they returned to Dawson city.

It was not until 1919 that the Bertons finally returned to the Yukon. Frank's first job was at Whitehorse and this was where they arrived in October that year, in the middle of a blizzard. The Bertons first child was born in Whitehorse in 1920. Laura was now 42 years old. (older than me when I became a mother). In 1921 Frank, Laura and their baby son finally made the move back to Dawson. And shortly after their arrival in Dawson, their daughter was born.

The funny thing is that during the entire last half of the book, while Laura does mention her children a few times, she NEVER refers to them by their names. Always as "my son, my daughter, or the children". Laura's children were named Pierre and Lucy. But not once did I read those names in this book.

Laura writes about the flat keel boat that Frank built, and which the family used for many years during the summers. They would travel up the Yukon river, and camp on the small river islands that dotted the river. The advantage to living on the islands were no mosquitos and usually no shelter either. The boat would hold everything the family needed for the summer.

Laura and Frank Berton and their family remained in Dawson from 1921 until the depression finally arrived and Frank lost his job in 1932. Then the family left Dawson city and moved to Vancouver permanently.

I enjoyed this book very much. It's not too long - just 230 pages. I read it in one day. Purchased it at 4pm and finished reading it 9 hours later. If you want to know what life was really like in the Gold mining era, you have to read this book - IF you can find it.

I read this book for the Second Canadian Book Challenge and the Memoirs Challenge.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Sept 15-19

Book Blogger Appreciation Week
September 15-19, 2008

Book Bloggers: You work hard. You read books, you write reviews, you maintain relationships with your readers, publicists, and authors. You are constantly running to the post office to mail your giveaways and participating in carnivals to help boost traffic. You sometimes want to faint when you see the size of your TBR pile, but faithfully you read. And you do it because you love it. Book blogging is for most a hobby. But it's a hobby that takes a lot of work and time. It's a labor of love.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Acknowledging the hard work of book bloggers and their growing impact on book marketing and their essential contribution to book buzz in general, I am excited to announce the first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Think of it as a retreat for book bloggers and a chance for us to totally nerd out over books together. And of course, shower each other with love and appreciation.

Reading Update

I finished reading Almost French on Friday. The next book I picked up was a Russian History book for the History Challenge.
On Saturday while I was out with my son, I picked up a biography of one of my favourite actors so I started reading that.
Today, Monday I picked up another book - this one a Canadian memoir - so I am reading that right now for the Memoir/Biography & Canadian challenges.
Then I will go back to the actor bio and after that I will go back to the Russian history. I will of course post reviews of all these books ASAP.
So how many of you, read your books like me?? LOL

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympics Update - Canada finally wins gold!!

Here in Canada there is a lot of pressure from the public for Canada to win medals. I heard a Canadian official state that Canada is known for being a second week team. The sports are not right for winning in the first week, but things improve in the second week.

So it is now Day 8 of the Beijing Olympics and Canada is FINALLY on the Medal table. As is New Zealand. The drought is over!!!

Canada has won one gold and one silver in women's wrestling and a bronze in rowing.
NZ has won one gold and two bronzes in rowing and a silver in track cycling.

Oh and Michael Phelps the wunderbar swimmer from the USA has now won SEVEN gold medals. One more and he will have beaten Mark Spitz's record. The record that has stood since 1972 (36 years).

50 Greatest Books - Principia Mathematica

Principia Mathematica

Globe and Mail
August 15, 2008

The scope and originality of Isaac Newton's Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) make it seem like a prophecy delivered from a mountaintop rather than a textbook in mathematical physics penned by a reclusive Cambridge professor.

To be sure, the Principia did not come out of the blue. Its central ideas came to Newton beginning in 1665, when an outbreak of the plague forced the university to shut down. The young scholar, still in his early 20s, returned to the family home in Lincolnshire.

Over the next 18 months, he laid out the laws of mechanics, developed a new branch of mathematics (which we now call calculus), began his investigations of light and colour and deduced the law of gravity.

And he kept it all to himself.

The notebooks and papers containing Newton's revolutionary ideas collected dust in his study for more than 20 years, until astronomer Edmond Halley urged him to publish. The massive text was finally printed in 1687, and met with universal acclaim — at least, from those who could decipher its message.

While Newton was surely a product of his time — he had devoured Galileo's dynamics and Descartes' mechanical philosophy — the Principia was a great leap forward from anything that had come before.

In its dense pages, Newton analyzes motion in a resistive medium, calculates the speed of sound, explains the irregularities in the moon's orbit and works out the physics behind the ocean's tides. He even uses the Earth's true shape (our planet is slightly "bulged" at the equator) to explain the "precession of the equinoxes" — the gradual wobble of the Earth's axis in a 26,000-year cycle.

And then there was the insight into gravitation. Allegedly inspired by a falling apple, Newton came to see that the same force could pull a falling body to the ground and hold the moon in its orbit — a force whose strength could be calculated with mathematical precision.

Newton used this "law of universal gravitation" to compute the orbits of all the planets, and even the motion of comets that sweep past the sun along highly elliptical (or even parabolic) paths.

There could no longer be any doubt that celestial and terrestrial physics were as one; the same rules applied in the heavens as on Earth.

Again and again, Newton took seemingly unrelated phenomena and found the unifying principles that underlie them — always with the calculations to back him up. Galileo's claim that nature was "written in the language of mathematics" was now firmly established.

There were, of course, unresolved problems: To some philosophers, the idea of a force acting over a distance seemed like more like magic than science.

Indeed, Einstein would later describe gravity as a warping of space itself rather than a force. It would also fall to Einstein to correct the Principia's assumption of "absolute" space and time, which had served as a foundation for Newton's mechanics but are now seen to have their limitations.

And now, the confession: I have not actually read the entire Principia (though I've read many portions of it in modern translation, and own a lovely 1960 edition).

In fact, hardly anyone in more than 100 years has actually read it. Even physicists have great difficulty with the book: In his calculus, Newton used complex geometrical representations which have since given way to more elegant notational systems. (Newton would later say that he had made the text purposely difficult so as to ward off "little Smatterers in Mathematicks" — likely a jab at rival Robert Hooke.)

So we honour the Principia not for its prose, but for the world view that it represents — what Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has called "Newton's Dream" — the quest "to understand all of nature, in the way that he was able to understand the solar system, through principles of physics that could be expressed mathematically."

If you can't quite wrap your head around the Principia, you can take comfort in an anecdote — probably apocryphal — about a pupil in Newton's day who had similar troubles.

Watching the great man pass by in his carriage, the young student supposedly quipped, "There goes the man that writ a book that neither he nor anybody else understands."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Almost French - Book Review

Almost French
by Sarah Turnbull
Nicholas Brealey Publishing 2003.

Last summer I read a book about Paris written by an American. It was called C'est La Vie by Susie Gershman. Someone wrote a comment and mentioned another book called Almost French. Well its taken me a year to finally find my own copy. I have now read Almost French and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When is an elevator not an elevator?
When it is a lift.
Nine years ago, I was perfectly comfortable calling a lift a lift. That is after all what they are. But no. Here in Canada they are not lifts. They are of course - elevators.

Sarah Turnbull is an Australian. (Immigration note - Actually Sarah was born in USA of Australian parents, but does not use her American citizenship. Technically she is required by American law to be paying portion of all her taxes to the USA for the rest of her life - no matter where in the world she lives and no matter what other citizenship she uses).

As an Australian, Sarah uses British (or Aussie) English, just like New Zealand does - NZ being my country of origin. A lift is a lift is a lift.

Now that I have been in Canada for eight years, I always use the elevator. I never use the lift. So every time I read the word lift in this book, it jarred my reading. I had to slow down and translate what a lift was. And the lift was mentioned frequently because Sarah and her boyfriend (now husband) live on the top floor of a 6 storey apartment and there is NO lift. Er - I mean no elevator!!!

The only other problem I had was that Sarah made no mention of any immigration details. One cannot just go visit France (or any country really) for a week and just decide to stay for the rest of their life, which is what she did. There is a LOT of paperwork involved in being allowed to stay. There was no mention of paperwork at all. Except right at the end for their wedding.

Other than that, this was a very readable book. Finally someone who tells it like it really is in France. The French are very fussy about clothes, about dining out, about dinner parties and about foreigners trying to pretend they are French.

As much as I love french culture, I dont think I want to live in Paris, Susie Gershman never mentioned these details. She mostly mentioned the paperwork required to do buy a house, to do home improvements (which Sarah also mentions) and to do this, that and the other. The French love their bureacracy.

I am happy that I married a French-Canadian man instead. That way I get the French language all around me, but none of the culture. And the paperwork. Oh the paperwork. We went through FIVE years of government paperwork as I applied to be a permanent resident of Canada.

Thankfully that is all finally behind me, and I can legally APPLY to become a citizen of Canada at the end of this year - just 4 months away. But I wont be doing that because I cannot afford the $200 necessary to file the paperwork. Not while I am at school.

An update on Sarah from online says that she and her husband moved back to France in 2007 after 3 years away. They still do not have children. Just the dog, Maddie.

I read this book for the (Memoirs) In Their Shoes Challenge.

After - Book Review

By Francis Chalifour
Tundra Books 2005

Francis Gregory (or Francois Gregoire in French) is a 15 year old boy who lives in Montreal with his parents and his younger brother Luc. The year is 1992. In June of 1992 Francis went on a school trip to New York City. While he was away, his father (who has been unemployed for the previous two years) hung himself in the attic.

The rest of this book is about how Francis grieved and coped for the next 12 months. How he went to school, or didn't go to school. How he went to grief counselling. How he stopped going out with his friends, and how he found his friends again.

This is a short book - only 135 pages. I found it very interesting, how the author goes into the grieving process so well. Almost like he went through the same process himself.

The author Francis (Francois) Chalifour was born in Quebec in 1977. In 1992 he would have been 15 years old. Since the book is set in 1992 with a 15 year old as the main character - it is possible that this novel MAY be semi-autobiographical. Chalifour currently teaches seventh and eighth graders in Toronto, and is also interested in the grieving process for children.

This book was a finalist for the Governor General's Prize in 2005.
I read this book for the Second Canadian Challenge.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Clean Clothes - Munsch Book Review

No Clean Clothes
By Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scolastic 2006
Behind the Story

Lacey checked all the drawers in her dresser. No Clean Clothes. She ran downstairs to the kitchen and demanded that her mother wash her clothes.

Lacey, I would wash them if I could find them. said her mother. You hide them under your bed. You lend them to your friends. You leave them in the back yard. Sometimes I think you feed your underwear to the dogs.

Mom, Don't be silly. All I need is one shirt. Cant you find me one clean shirt? Lacey asked.

Well there is that nice shirt grandma gave you for your birthday. You've never worn that. said Mom.

That shirt is a Strange Grandma Shirt. When I was three, grandma gave me a shirt that said Snookie Wookums and everyone laughed at me. When I was four, grandma gave me a shirt that said Cutie Patootie and everyone laughed at me. When I was five, grandma gave me a shirt that said Cuddly Wunkums and everyone laughed at me. Now I am six and grandma gives me a shirt that says KISS ME - I'M PERFECT. I am NOT wearing that shirt to school. Only a grandma would choose a shirt like that.

Now Lacey, said Mom. Just wear that shirt this morning and I will wash a shirt and bring it to school at recess.

You will wash it right away? Lacey asked.
Yes said Mom.
You will not talk on the phone?
No said mom
You will not wash the dishes?
No said Mom
You will not go shopping on the way?
No said Mom
You will not go to work and chop down a tree?
No said Mom.
OK. Then I will be on the steps of the school at recess.

So Lacey wore a shirt to school that said KISS ME - I'M PERFECT.

On the way to school she was kissed by a kitten, a dog, an eagle and a moose. By the time she got to school, Lacey was a mess and she loved her shirt. After she washed up she went back to the classroom where she was kissed by a boy. YUCK! BOY KISS AAAAAAAHHHHHH. Lacey went to the bathroom and washed her face until recess. When she went to stand on the school steps, she was kissed by a bear.

When Lacey got home after school, her mother asked, I didn't see you at school today. Was the shirt ok?
I LOVE this shirt said Lacey. I called Grandma from the school office and she is going to send everyone at school, a Strange Grandma shirt.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

BOO - Munsch Book Review

By Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scholastic 2004
Background to this story

Lance painted his face for Halloween.

He painted a very scary face.
Scary enough to make people yell and fall over.

On his face, Lance painted...
worms coming out of his hair,
ants crawling on his cheeks,
snakes coming out of his mouth,
green brains coming out the side of his head,
one eye falling down over his face
orange goop coming out of his nose.

Lance put a pillowcase over his head, grabbed another pillowcase for candy and went out trick & treating. The first two houses he went to, he lifted up his pillowcase and said Boo. The person at the door fell over and so Lance went inside and took all their candy and even emptied the contents of the fridge into his pillowcase. Then Lance meets a cop who helps him with his heavy bag of candy - which was now full of candy and cans of pop.

Then while Lance was at home, the doorbell rang. Lance opened the door. A teenage kid with a bag over his face and a huge bag of candy, stood there and he demanded all the candy Lance had. The teenager said to Lance,
"My face is so scary that when people see it, they fall over and I take all the candy in the house. Now I am going to scare you and take all the candy in your house."

"Maybe not" says Lance. "I want to see your face.". The teenager lifted the bag covering his face so Lance could see it. It was scary but not as scary as Lance. "Nice try" said Lance, and then he lifted up his bag and yelled BOO!

The teenager yelled, dropped his bag of candy and ran off down the street. Lance took the huge bag of candy and all his candy lasted Lance a long long time. In fact it lasted him all the way to next Halloween.

This is not exactly the kind of behaviour one wants to teach a child. The scaring part is optional, but the taking other peoples candy and emptying the fridge is not.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The King James Bible - 50 Greatest Books

This was never one of my favourite books. Even if I did grow up being required to read it. The language is so old. It is Elizabethan English. I do not live in the Elizabethan era. I wish I did though, because it was certainly a much more interesting era than today. If I ever HAD to read any Bible, I would choose the New International (NIV) Version. It's in modern English.

The Good Book

Like Vladimir Nabokov, the Almighty did his best writing in English. His Hebrew and German (I mean He, not Nabokov) were also excellent, but His Greek and Latin were a bit sloppy. Still, no one's perfect. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible of 1611 (also called the Authorized Version) was a new creation. If it still is the best rendering of the Hebrew and Greek originals in English, it nevertheless changed utterly the way the Tanakh (the Hebrew scriptures) and the so-called New Testament are read. The magisterial language of the KJV loses in its solemnity the Hebrew puns and word games of the Tanakh and covers up the verbal messiness of the Greek New Testament.

By force of the English language at its strongest, the KJV makes the two testaments into a single story. This merging has theological implications that many find uncomfortable (understandably, Jewish readers do not favour the union). However, one can savour the single sweeping literary text without having to buy into the idea that the New Testament supersedes the "Old." The Good Book is a very good book indeed.

More even than William Shakespeare, the KJV sculpted the English language and thus the way anyone who uses English thinks. It is also the language's largest source ever assembled of metaphors, clichés and plots waiting to be cribbed. You cannot read a 19th-century Canadian parliamentary debate or replay a stump speech by any 20th-century U.S. presidential candidate or go through movie channels on your TV set tonight without running into words, phrases, allusions and narrative turns that are straight from the scriptures. The bible-belting in Pulp Fiction and the constant cinematic threats of Armageddon come from the same source.

It is only justice that the King James Version of the Bible is so often plagiarized, for in itself the KJV is the biggest piece of plagiarism in English-language culture. Roughly 90 per cent of the New Testament of 1611 was lifted from the work of William Tyndale. Before his martyrdom, in 1536, he had managed to translate the entire New Testament from Greek while on the run from church authorities, and he had made a good start on the Hebrew scriptures. These were assimilated into the Geneva Bible, the first complete English-language Bible widely available to the common people. The committee set up by James VI of Scotland (who became James I of England in 1603) knew a good thing when they saw it and stole most of it fair and square.

Of course, the KJV is not beyond criticism, the most telling being that in many parts it is better than are the originals. The high-pitched ranting of the minor prophets and the blood-drenched discourse of the Book of Revelation are converted from being psychiatrically diagnostic into searing and radical literature. Several more recent versions sort out translation errors, but most are either tone-deaf (the Revised Standard Version of the 1880s is particularly musicless), tools of colporteurs (do they really need to hear Jesus in Scouse?) or collections of niggles by academics (who, quite realistically, understand that even biblical scholars must publish or perish). Robert Alter, the one modern translator to equal in power the KJV in the portions of the Tanakh that he has completed, rightly comments that "nothing traduces the power of the original more egregiously than the nonstyle cultivated by the sundry modern versions."

"The greatest vehicle of mass literacy in the English-speaking world has been the King James Bible," Robert Stone states. "It has been the great primer." He is right and here he leads us to recognize one of the most stealthy cases of social class and intergenerational cultural warfare in the last half-century. It has confidently been asserted by mega-church preachers and professors of pastoral theology that "everyday people" and "today's youth" cannot understand the language of the KJV. Of course they can. The members of a generation that can master a new form of English that is communicated mostly through their thumbs can certainly get its head around the difference between "thee," "thou" and "thy." If they are encouraged to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the most widescreen, soaring, magical, brutal, depressing, elevating and sublime document in our language, they will be forever grateful and we all will be the better for it.

The KJV is not only the standard by which all English-language literature must be judged, it is also the source of the Prime Critical Directive, the ultimate statement of authorial responsibility: "Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol." No writer escapes that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Remembering Anniversaries

Today - 08-08-08 - is the opening day of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China. China is 12 hours ahead of EST - Eastern standard time (The East cost of North America) - so the opening ceremony was shown live on TV in Ontario, Canada this morning. I was lucky enough to be able to watch the Parade of Nations, and then later to see the Torch entering the stadium and the Olympic torch being lit, before I had to leave for school.

I'm sure, like everyone else, we were all confused by the non-alphabetical order of entry by the countries. According to my research, the nations entered the stadium according to the number of strokes required to write that country's name in Chinese. The exception to this rule was Greece at the beginning (Greece always leads the Parade of Nations in any Olympics, with the host nation entering the stadium last) and China at the end. The Chinese are big on numerology and lucky numbers. That is why the Olympics opened on this date. The number 8 is considered to be a very lucky number.

Today is also Princess Beatrice's Birthday. I can still remember when she was born. 8-8-88. The eldest daughter of Fergie (Sarah Ferguson) and Prince Andrew was born August 8, 1988 in London, UK. Today she turned 20 years old.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my mother-in-laws passing. It's in my blog that she passed away on August 7, last year.

And finally tomorrow (August 9th, 1988) is the 20th anniversary of the biggest and most controversial hockey trade of all. When the King of Canadian Hockey - Wayne Gretsky - was traded to the Los Angeles Kings from the Edmonton Oilers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Lost Painting - Book Review

The Lost Painting
by Jonathan Harr
Random House 2005

Michelangelo. We've all heard of him. He's the fellow who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. His full name was Michelangelo Buonorotti.

Did you know there was another famous painter named Michelangelo around the same time? But this fellow is much better known by his surname. His full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. (1571-1610)

This is the story of the hunt for one of Caravaggios' original paintings. Caravaggio painted less than 100 pictures. And he may or may not have made his own copies of them. He died in 1610 aged just 37.

There are 3 main characters in this story. A Italian girl from Rome, an English gentleman and an Italian restorer living in Ireland. Their names are Francesca Cappelletti, Sir Denis Mahon and Sergio Benedetti. The time is the early 1990s (1990 to 1993).

In 1990 Francesca was an art history student in Rome. She became involved in the search for the Taking of Christ, one of Caravaggios most famous paintings that had been lost. This painting was created by Caravaggio in 1602 and held by the Mattei family for several centuries. In the early 1900's the Mattei family fortunes declined (someone had a gambling problem ) and the family began selling off its art collection. Francesca was able to trace the painting to an auction house in Edinburgh, Scotland, and there she lost the trail.

Meanwhile an Italian restorer in Dublin, Ireland by the name of Sergio Benedetti, who worked for the National Gallery of Ireland, was given the job of restoring an old painting by Gerard von Honthorst, a Dutch follower of Caravaggio, from a Irish Jesuit house.

As Sergio began cleaning the painting, he became more and more convinced that this painting was actually the lost Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. He eventually met up with Francesca in Rome to get her story, and finally in 1993 it was declared the lost Caravaggio original. Denis Mahon is an elderly English art expert (born 1910) and he confirmed Sergio's opinion of the Irish painting being the original.

The only problem with the provenance was a 10 year gap between the auction house sale in 1920 and the owner in the 1930s. who donated the painting to the Jesuits when she died. The auction house no longer has any records of who purchased the Honthorst painting in 1920. So the National Gallery in Ireland now has a genuine Caravaggio on permanent loan.

In 2003 a new contraversy arose. Another painting of the Taking of Christ was found in Rome. This family insisted that it was the original and that the Irish painting was only a copy. But after testing, the Rome picture was found to have a paint called Naples Yellow in it. Caravaggio never used Naples Yellow in any of his paintings. Also the regular use of Naples Yellow did not begin until 1630 - 20 years after Caravaggio's death. So the Rome painting has been deemed a copy by someone else other than Caravaggio. The Dublin painting is still the original according to the art world.

This is an excellent book. It is easy to read, and it explains all the art details in easy to understand terms. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot. I read this for the Non-Fiction Challenge.

Works by Caravaggio

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Smelly Socks - Munsch

Smelly Socks
By Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scholastic Books 2004
Smelly socks - the story behind this story

Tina wants to buy some new socks. But her mother is too busy and they don't have a car. It's a long way around to the nearest bridge to get to the sock shop. So Tina asks her grandfather to row them across the river to the sock shop.

Tina loves her new coloured striped socks so much that she refuses to take them off. After 10 days Tina's mother said she needed to wash them or they would start to smell. Never said Tina. I will never take them off. After 20 days the other students on Tina's class started telling Tina to wash her socks. Never said Tina.

After 30 days a flock of Canada Geese flying over the house all dropped out of the sky from the smell. Two moose fell over from the smell. Ducks, raccoons, squirrels and a skunk all fell over as Tina passed by walking to and from school. Finally the kids in Tina's class had had enough. They grabbed Tina one day, dragged her down to the river and held her down as they removed the socks and washed them. The fish all played dead and floated on top of the water. The beavers left the river and went to live with Tina's grandfather. And people complained that the river even smelled of dirty socks.

Once the socks were clean, Tina was very happy. Wow she said. They look clean, the smell clean and they feel clean. The animals that had fallen over from the smell, all got up and went back to their business.

Tina went home and showed her nice clean socks to her mother.
My socks are nice and clean and I think it would be very nice if you took me to town to get me a nice new coloured striped jersey. she said.
Promise to wash it? her mother asked?
NO, said Tina. If I wait long enough, the kids at school will wash it for me.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Soviet dissident writer Solzhenitsyn dies at (age) 89

Soviet dissident writer Solzhenitsyn dies at 89

LONDON (Reuters) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet dissident writer and Nobel literature prize winner, has died aged 89, the Interfax news agency reported (today) on Sunday.

He died of a stroke, the agency said, quoting literary sources in Moscow.

Solzhenitsyn served with the Red Army in World War Two but became one of the most prominent dissidents of the Soviet era, enduring labor camps, cancer and persecution by Soviet officialdom.

His experience in the network of labor camps was vividly described in his "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."

His major works, including "The First Circle" and "Cancer Ward" brought him world admiration and the 1970 Nobel Literature Prize.

Stripped of his citizenship and sent into exile in 1974 after the publication of "The Gulag Archipelago," his monumental history of the Soviet police state, the writer settled in the United States, returning to post-Soviet Russia as a hero in 1994.

He was born on December 11 1918, studied physics and mathematics at Rostov University and became a Soviet army officer after Hitler's invasion in 1941.

Lost City - Book Review

Lost City - from the NUMA files
By Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos
G.Putnam & Sons 2004 (HC)
Berkely Books 2005 (PB)

When you think of a lost city - what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably a lost city on land, right?

Well the Lost City of this novel is not on land. It is 2500 feet down under water on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

There are several events happening in this novel. One is the involvement of the Fauchard Family of France when the body of Jules Fauchard is discovered in a glacier. The second is the exploration of the Lost City, the third is the explosion of Seaweed in the worlds oceans, and the last is the increasing rumours of red-eyed monsters.

Skye Labelle is an archaeologist. Her speciality is the movement of trade from the Minoan area along the Amber Route to the rest of Europe. Up until now, the Minoans are thought to have traded with only Greece and Egypt. She and Kurt Austin (Leader of the Special Operations Team from NUMA) are investigating a lake in the European Alps (on the border between France anbd Switzerland) where they discover an underwater tomb. At the same time a body is discovered in a nearby glacier. The melt-water of the glacier is being used to run turbines to create electricity.

Sky is called away from the lake up to the glacier so that she can identify the helmet the body is wearing. The unusual design on the helmet is eventually traced back to the Fauchard family in France. This family originated in Cyprus and eventually moved to France during the Early Middle ages. There they made their living manufacturing and selling weapons. Once of their weapons was the Fauchard - a polearm with a blade attached.

Out in the Atlantic, a strange phenomenon is happening to the seaweed. It is growing and procreating at an alarming rate. The faster rate means it could choke all the oceans within a matter of weeks. This will create a drastic food shortage for all of humanity.

And in Scotland, a reality TV show being fimed on a remote island is destroyed by red-eyed monsters who invade and kill all the participants and TV crew - all except one. When she is rescued, Noone believes her stories and she is diagnosed as being in shock.

All these events are tied together. Kurt and his team are in a race to stop the world being destroyed by sea weed. At the same time, the team must also find and destroy the "fountain of youth".

Excellent novel - especially the parts about the Lost City.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

50 Greatest Books

The Complete Stories - by Franz Kafka

By Sam Solecki

I want to suggest that Franz Kafka would have endorsed my choice of a volume of his best stories over The Trial for The Globe and Mail's list of the 50 greatest books. After all, when he asked his friend Max Brod to destroy his papers and manuscripts, Kafka spared the stories. Brod ignored the writer's wishes, and in the three years following Kafka's death in 1924, he published The Trial, The Castle and Amerika. The English translations by Edwin and Willa Muir appeared a decade later. The rest is literary history. Kafka's admirers include Auden, Beckett, the French existentialists, García Márquez and Milan Kundera, and there is a consensus that he is one of the great modernists and a giant of world literature.

Whatever his personal demons and neuroses, the situations and dilemmas of Kafka's fiction are also ours. In fact, he is the only one of the modernists whose work has not dated. What he has to say about alienation, despair, absurdity, the nightmare of reason, the assault on the self and the absence of God is as relevant today as it was in the early decades of the last century. The fiction is radically innovative, but because Kafka belonged to no artistic movement, it doesn't come burdened with a dated style or label. The novels and stories might have been written yesterday.

Their place of origin is the Prague of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but they aren't burdened with the contingent clutter of their time and place. In a move that anticipates Beckett, Kafka strips his narratives to essentials that are universal: claustrophobic rooms and nondescript furniture, a handful of animal or human characters, often without names, a narrative verisimilitude predicated on an absurd premise that undoes plausibility, and a setting that is nowhere and everywhere.

This is as true of the novels as it is of the short fiction: The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, The Great Wall of China, A Country Doctor, The Hunter Gracchus, A Hunger Artist, A Report to the Academy, Investigations of a Dog, The Burrow, and the last completed work, Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk.

Though I understand why most readers regard The Trial as Kafka's signature work, I return to the stories more often and with greater anticipation. And though it's heresy to say so, I've found that The Trial and The Castle tend to drag; both have magnificent sections but, in the end, I find them repetitious and, dare I say it, occasionally boring. They sit on the same shelf as Broch's The Death of Virgil, Musil's The Man Without Qualities, Mann's Doctor Faustus and Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke - novels admired but not loved.

The best stories, by contrast, strike me as perfect works of art that seem fresh each time I read or teach them. There's a family resemblance in style and theme, but each offers a different situation, plot and set of characters. There's also the pleasure of what one critic describes as "the most obscure lucidity in the history of literature." Their paradoxes, contradictions, allusions and details tease you with the possibility, ultimately denied, of what one fragment contemptuously calls a coherent story. Instead, Kafka offers a radical indeterminacy that allows various, not-always-compatible interpretations.

And on one level, each story is perfectly coherent, if you accept its basic absurd situation and are willing to hand yourself over to the often impersonal voice of the narrator: A man turns into "vermin"; an aging carnivorous rodent describes his anxieties about the safety of his burrow; a traveller witnesses an officer's suicide on an elaborate machine designed to execute prisoners on an island where "guilt is never in doubt"; an ageless hunter who is both dead and alive wanders the Earth on a ship; and a man who calls himself the hunger artist discovers that people are no longer interested in his anorexic art.

Kafka wrote in his diary, "Life is merely terrible," but his fiction makes it more bearable than it otherwise would be by leaving us with the same complex pleasures that we feel when we read Sophocles or Rushdie.

Next week - The King James Bible.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Legerdemain - Book Review

The Presidents Secret Plan, The Bomb and what the French Never Knew...
by James J Heaphey
History Publishing Company

Leger demain as two words (in french) means Light Tomorrow, and probably refers to the Nuclear Mushroom and Explosion.

This is the memoir of James J Heaphy (bn 1930) who in 1952 was assigned to a US airbase in Morocco, as the local base newspaper editor. His real job however was to covertly help the Moroccan nationalists to overthrow the French colonials, and hope that the Moroccans would allow the US to keep the Air Force Base in Morocco in place.

James Heaphy was sent to language school in USA and taught to speak Russian. This was the height of the cold war and the USA needed to know everything the Russians were doing, thinking and saying. WHY Heaphy was sent to Morocco where he did not speak the languages, is one of those things that Americans just dont question - when they should. There were three languages spoken in Morocco at that time. Arabic, French and Berber. Heaphy knew none of them. Although he did begin learning French.

This book describes Heaphy's two years in Morocco, during which he was involved in the Casablance massacre (1952 Dec 8, French troops shot on demonstrators at Casablanca and 50 people were killed) and was lucky to survive. He also disocvered french agents close to the US base as well.

Heaphy also went to Cyprus a few times, mainly to discuss the issue of Cypriot Independence from the British and the matter of the Turks in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots wanted the Turks out, since Turkey had signed a treaty with the British (in 1923 I think), allowing the British to take over Cyprus, and the Greek Cypriots also wanted the British out as well. Heaphy also visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt - something to do with the Nationalisation of the Suez Canal.

Also in 1952, the Americans were secretly moving atomic bombs to the Air Force base without telling either the Moroccans or the French. The US needed to have bombs close by in case Russia did something bad.

When Heaphy's tour was over, he was encouraged to sign up again for a second four year tour, because he was doing such a good job in Morocco. Heaphy refused. He mustered out and went back to Ohio and settled down.

This is a true story and tells of Heaphy's 2 years in Morocco during which he met with various famous people around the Middle East. If you really want to know what life was like in Morocco fifty years ago, then you have to read this book. I enjoyed this book for the history of Morocco and the unknown secret of the USA.

There have been many times when US interference has gone badly for them. The Bay of Pigs in Cuba (1962) is one example, Vietnam (1965-1975) and Grenada in 1983 are other examples. USA is currently losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is contemplating more wars on Iran and Pakistan. The US government badly needs to learn to stay out of other countries. It almost always goes badly for them.

If you wish to know where I get up-to-date information - Please read this website - WRH. One of the most popular alternative news sites online today.

I read this book for the Memoir - In Their Shoes Challenge.