X-pand your mind! Good Reading! Good Movies!


Mentioned This MONTH (Chapters 29-33)
Books that were written in response to/ allude to the World Wars:

The Once and Future King– TH White This was a reimagining of the King Arthur legends from a modern view point. Originally written from 1936-1941, totalitarianism is criticized- especially Communism and Fascism. The first part of the book was later adapted into the Disney movie The Sword and the Stone; the last two parts of the book were turned into the very popular musical Camelot. J K Rowling has stated that this book also heavily influenced the Harry Potter series, especially the characters of Harry and Dumbledore.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy– Author JRR Tolkien served as a 2nd lieutenant in World War I. Although the themes of good and evil always remind us of the rise of fascism, his works are more a criticism of growing industrialization and its caustic effects on civilization. However, when the Hobbit was being translated into German for publication in Germany, Tolkien expressed outrage that part of the Norse and Saxon mythologies which influenced his works were being appropriated by the Nazis.

Other Good Historical Stuff:

At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor, Gordon Prange

All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque: the story of World War I, told from the perspective of a German soldier, which the author actually was.

War, Sebastian Junger: The inside story of what fighting the war in Afghanistan is like by an embedded journalist, this includes the story of recent Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta. Some language is offensive.

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand: The true story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic track athlete in Hitler’s Olympics, B-24 bombadier in WWII, survivor of weeks adrift at sea, Japanese prisoner of war, and redeemed human being.

The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams: Because it is silly, profound, and hilarious. Do not judge these books by the mess of a movie that came out a few years ago.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxis: This German pastor decided that his conscience dictated remaining in Germany when he could have escaped, and then becoming involved in the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Although she helped Truman Capote research In Cold Blood, she only wrote one book in her lifetime. And she didn’t need to write another. After reading this, see the film– one of the few times that a movie adaptation is just as beautiful as the original.


Films about World War I and the 1920s:

Iron Jawed Angels— The story of how radical suffragettes fought for the right to vote in the early 20th century. Includes an intense performance by Hillary Swank.

Gallipoli— the story of how soldiers from Australia and New Zealand were ruthlessly sacrificed in the battle against the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. Stars Mel Gibson.

All Quiet on the Western Front (also a book– see above)– told from a German soldier’s perspective.

The Spirit of St. Louis— about Charles Lindbergh and his NY-Paris solo flight, starring Jimmy Stewart (later a real general in the Air Force in real life).

The Untouchables— Elliott Ness goes after and captures Al Capone.

Eight Men Out— the story of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, where the White Sox “threw” the World Series for gamblers.

Inherit the Wind— about the Scopes Trial.


Groundhog Day— Because it IS. And even when it’s not, this film contains the meaning of life. And it’s not “Don’t Drive Angry!” – although that one is good too.

My favorite recent film right now is The King’s Speech. See if it you get the chance! True Grit was also good, but see the original or read the book first.

The Princess Bride— Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

Star Wars IV-VI— This does not need explanation.

The Last Samurai— Tom Cruise is just idealistic here, not crazy.

Whale Rider— A young Maori girl attempts to both uphold and challenge tradition in New Zealand.

Dances With Wolves— Kevin Costner, before his career jumped the shark, showed brilliance in this story of a vanishing way of life among the Sioux in the years after the Civil War.

Mean Girls— Thank God this isn’t how our school works. Mostly. But it sure does remind me of my high school days.

Ferris Buhler’s Day Off— speaking of high school…. this also is one of John Hughes’ masterpieces of teen life.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Ben Burgess on January 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Good War Movies:
    Sands Of Iwo Jima
    Flags Of Our Fathers
    Saving Private Ryan
    Enemy At The Gates
    Desert Fox
    Das Boot


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