Saturday, May 06, 2006


Long hiatus. Life intervenes. I am back to finish up 1944 this weekend and move on to some more recent books read. Here are the remaining books I read for 1944:

Presidential Agent, Upton Sinclair, The Viking Press, 1944, 655 pp
Lanny Budd carries on. He meets President Roosevelt and becomes one of his agents, sending back reports about what is going on behind the scenes in Europe including Nazi Germany. I learned plenty more about the events leading up to World War II.

Lanny loses Trudi, his secret wife who worked for the resistance. He assumes that the Nazis got her, tries to find and rescue her but is unsuccessful. Later he learns that she died in a concentration camp. The book ends before Hitler takes Poland or war has started but it is on the brink. Lanny is understandably depressed but at the end decides to continue doing what he can.

As usual, the story is good and kept me going through all those pages. Sinclair was obviously a fan of FDR and the New Deal. He lived until 1968 and kept writing books into the 50s. It will be interesting to see how his views develop.

Pulitzer Prize Winner:
Journey in the Dark, Martin Flavin, Groset & Dunlap Publishers, 1943, 432 pp
Here is a book I would possibly never have read except for this reading project. It was an important book for my memoir because it shows how a whole segment of American social history came to its final end with World War II.

Sam Braden grows up in a rather poor family, determines not to be poor and makes plenty of money, but does not find happiness, of course. The pursuit of the bitch-goddess success has not changed in this country, but the change in the 40s was due to a more broad-based democracy, the rise of the little guy and yet the loss of some kind of innocence and a quieter sort of life. It was Flavin's portrayal of this change that probably won him the Pulitzer.

I looked up the author and found that he mainly wrote plays. This seems to have been his only novel.

Newbery Award:
Rabbit Hill, The Viking Press, 1944, 128 pp
This wonderful story was like a precursor of ecology. It is the story of a piece of property from the animals' point of view. An abandoned house is bought and inhabited by very enlightened, animal friendly people. The animals in the area go from very hard times to a sort of animal utopia, as the people plant fields and gardens with enough for the humans and the animals.

The animal characters are fully developed with Georgie, a young rabbit, being the main character. It is all done in the tradition of The Borrowers and also reminded me of Richard Adams and Watership Down. Very good stuff. I wanted to make all the agri-business people and polluters of the world read this book and take a very hard test on it to retain their right to do business.

Caldecott Medal Winner:
Prayer For a Child, Rachel Field, Simon & Schuster, Inc, 1944, 28 pp
The illustrations by Elizabeth Orton Jones are excellent. The text is a prayer and it is pretty sappy although I probably would have liked it as a child. It fits right in with the still strong Christian influence of the society of the 1940s.

1 comment:

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