Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The wonders of Cabeza de Vaca

Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America (Zia Book) Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America by Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
A real imagination capturer. This translated version of Relacion by Cyclone Covey, takes any amateur traveler, or narrative fan, deep into what we have come to call the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, but one senses the awe both Spaniards and Native Americans felt in this experience that anyone should read. There is a lot to be learned here.

The magnetism of Cabeza de Vaca's journey, and writing, continue to inspire more research and writing. Historian Andres Resendez recently came out with a new book on de Vaca, and said he found a few new facts in the process. I spoke briefly with him in a booksigning at Texas A&M International University for A Land So Strange, and he told me the new facts were found the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain. Conquistador in Chains is another must read -- about de Vaca in South America -- for anyone curious about what really went on when Europeans invaded the Americas.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Perspective revisited

Assault on Germany: The Battle for Geilenkirchen (David & Charles Military Book) Assault on Germany: The Battle for Geilenkirchen by Ken Ford

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The stories of World War II that I grew up with came, largely, from this time in that conflict from my late first step-father, Bob Wagner, a medic in the 84th Infantry Division. I hadn't heard those stories in years -- he passed away in 1972 -- but, Ford's book very closely ran a parallel to what I heard as a boy in California.

Ford's book is more interested in historical account and readability than substance in style, but is worth the read for anyone familiar with that time.

I read it in research of a particular bloodless incident that I heard about long ago -- one in which Scottish bagpipers played all night long, effectively scaring off a larger German unit shrouded behind a nearby fog when it lifted. That incident was not in this book, but Ford brought me closer to it, and aided my insight into the horrors one goes through at that time, and for an instant, took me back to those days in the '60s when Bob thought it was important that I understand why war is so horrible.

Despite how hard it might be to talk about at times.

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