Saturday Savings 03.09.2016

Histories, mysteries and more . . .

Labor Day weekend brings an end, for some, to summer, and the beginning, to others, of college football season. Mister Sister and I spent the last few days giving our house a much-needed deep cleaning as we get ready for Game Day celebrations. I’m ready to relax (after the game, of course) with some good books. Here’s what I’ve found on sale today:

TitanicWalter Lord’s account of the Titanic disaster earned him a reputation for meticulously researched literary non-fiction. Open Road Media brings his A Night to Remember and The Night Lives On, which examines factual and fanciful theories surrounding the ship and its sinking, in The Complete Titanic Chronicles, discounted today to $4.99 (USD) — $20 off its list price!

Endeavour Press offers the sensational and best-selling history from Lord Russell of Liverpool of Nazi war crimes, detailing the illegal as well as immoralScourge atrocities committed against Germany’s own citizens, prisoners of war and others.  Lord Russell of Liverpool—né Edward Frederick Langley Russell, 2nd Baron Russell of Liverpool—was Deputy Judge Advocate General for the British Army of the Rhine, and was a chief legal adviser for Britain during the war crimes trials following World War II. The Scourge of the Swastika, his history of those crimes, is on sale today for $1.99 (USD), down from $14.99 (USD).

Mysterious Press discounts Aaron Elkins’ fourth Gideon Oliver mystery, Old Boneswhich won the Edgar Award and which was voted one of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century by the Independent Booksellers Association, to $1.99 (USD) from $7.99.

BonesBook description: With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel goes the old nursery song. So when the aged patriarch of the du Rocher family falls victim to the perilous tide, even the old man’s family accepts the verdict of accidental drowning. But too quickly, this “accident” is followed by a bizarre discovery in the ancient du Rocher château: a human skeleton, wrapped in butcher paper, beneath the old stone flooring. Professor Gideon Oliver, lecturing on forensic anthropology at nearby St. Malo, is asked to examine the bones. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.

I love Rudyard Kipling’s stories, and Kim, the classic story of an orphaned boy, a lama and two empires clashing over one magical land, is free today, thanks to Open Road Media.

Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz

Highly Recommended

Five ChimneysIf you decide to read one and only one Holocaust memoir, you must consider Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story Of Auschwitz [Illustrated Edition] by Olga Lengyel, the wife of a Transylvanian physician who ended up in the Nazis’ most notorious death camp only because she could not believe, even as late as May of 1944, how treacherous they could be.

She learned quickly — starting with her first step on the platform of the train station at Cluj. Her husband, Dr. Miklos Lengyel, director of a 72-bed hospital and a Berlin-trained surgeon, had been detained and was to be deported to Germany. An S.S. officer graciously assured her that she was welcome to join him if she wished. She, their two sons, and her parents realized her mistake when the entire station was surrounded by armed sentries and they were forced with 90 others into a railcar designed to hold eight horses. It was the first, and perhaps the easiest, of the many lessons she would learn at the hands of the Nazis.

Mrs. Lengyel’s painfully poignant memoir — “Mea culpa,” she begins, “my fault, mea maxima culpa!” — was published within two years of the end of World War II. It has been on my Wish List since I read that Albert Einstein praised it as the best Holocaust memoir. Indeed, he wrote her personally to thank her for her “very frank, very well written book. You have done a great service by letting the ones who are now silent and most forgotten speak,” he wrote.

That, she tells us, is exactly why she wrote it. The few who survived carried a burden to tell the world what had happened there, to ensure the justice was served, and, more, to work to see that this should never happen again. It can be hard for us to realize now how successfully the Nazi regime concealed the atrocities that were carried out so blatantly behind the battle lines . . . even as similar atrocities happen again and again elsewhere around the globe.

“The Germans sinned grievously, but so did the rest of the nations, if only through refusing to believe and to toil day and night to save the wretched and the dispossessed by every possible means,” she wrote.

I have read many, many such memoirs, including in the last year those of two women who also survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of which I would recommend to anyone (see my review of Here There Is No Why) and one of which I would not recommend. Each woman has a different perspective. Mrs. Lengyel’s is both as personal and intimate as either and more comprehensive. Hers is a story of deeply painful, personal tragedy, yet she also saw and observed what went on throughout the camps and ensured that she survived to record it so that those who suffered it should not suffer in vain. Her account is detailed, and damning, and it includes lessons that cost more than anyone should ever be forced to pay.

“Perhaps the greatest crime the ‘supermen’ committed against us was their campaign, often successful, to turn us into monstrous beasts ourselves,” she writes in the final pages. Earlier chapters detail exactly how they did this, and how those of once unimpeachable integrity could be, and were, reduced to the lowest moral level. But that wasn’t all she saw, or all she learned. She also wrote of those who resisted on every level. “Because of these few, I have not entirely lost my faith in mankind. If, even in the jungle of Birkenau, all were not necessarily inhuman to their fellow men, then there is hope indeed. It is that hope which keeps me alive.”

That faith is one of the reasons her memoir is indispensable. If she, who witnessed and suffered all of this, could hold on to hope for us, we can’t be entirely lost. Yet.

Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story Of Auschwitz [Illustrated Edition] by Olga Lengyel, 234 pgs., biography & memoir, Holocaust, WWII history.  Hardcover and paperback editions also available.

The Hiding Place, 35th anniversary edition

The Hiding Place, 35th anniversary edition by Corrie ten Boom with Elizabeth and John Sherrill

foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

“Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.” — Corrie ten Boom

One of Sis’s all-time favorite among biographies & memoirs, now in a special 35th anniversary Kindle edition. Sis hopes you didn’t miss the special sale price, but she assures you this story is worth the list price.  Hardbound and paperback editions are also available.  

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.  Here is the riveting account of how Corrie and her family were able to save many of God’s chosen people. For 35 years, millions have seen that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. Now The Hiding Place, repackaged for a new generation of readers, continues to declare that God’s love will overcome, heal, and restore.

Sis freely acknowledges that she has yet to know the depth of faith exhibited by either Corrie or her sister, Betjie, in either this book or in other books about their lives — but that doesn’t stop her from striving towards it. This is not only a riveting account of one family’s efforts to save Jews during World War II, but a compelling story of faith in action. Sis has read it dozens of times, as has her younger sis.  It is timeless, as important today as when it was first penned.  Or, possibly more?

Paperback Edition