A Different Kind of Nazi in Paris

517b-t7n-jL._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_SCLZZZZZZZ_ Junger was a well-known German author and officer during World War II who “met intellectuals and artists across the political spectrum” while living in occupied Paris. As such, he can be considered part of a Franco-German dialogue, if not “alliance.” I personally was interested in this book because I wanted to know the atmosphere of Paris under German domination. Apparently “Junger frequented the Thursday salon of Paris editor for Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Louise Bousquet,” wife of the playwright Jacques Bousquet. Pablo Picasso and Aldous Huxley also attended those meetings. I am just getting into the book and realizing that nothing is black and white–life is always varying shades of gray. Junger, for instance, judged the brutality of fascist sympathizer Ferdinand Celine’s vicious character harshly. It is amazing to see who dallied at these “salons.” In visiting the George V hotel, he would have been conversing with Cocteau and the publisher Gaston Gallimard. This may help you keep reading: “When Junger saw an opportunity to help save Jews at an acceptable level of risk, he did act.” His help proves he had a conscience despite Cocteau’s comment that he had no hands. I think it is wonderful of Columbia University Press to publish Junger’s journal. It will help scores of researching writers and anyone interested in what German officers were doing while in Nazi-controlled Paris. #NetGalley #ColumbiaUniversityPress. arr de triomphe

 

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Who are the real cut-throats?

16Hemley-jumboClaire Prentice, author of The Lost Tribe of Coney Island (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014) made me CARE about a tribe of headhunters called the Igorottes from the Philippine Islands, sweet-talked by an American named Truman Hunt, who saw some financial promise in displaying the 50-odd tribespeople to the American public for profit. I do not blame him for wanting to display them since that was a trend at the beginning of the early 20th century. The tribe was at Dreamland, one of the three big amusement parks at Coney Island, where freak shows displayed any willing people who were “different,” either by birth or culture. (I imagine the lives of all those who were engaged in a circus fashion, to amaze or horrify the public, were as difficult as those of struggling actors in Hollywood today.)

Everything I might have found repellant in the traditions of the tribespeople, who after all, were headhunters, and their primitive way of life (eating dogs for celebrations, for instance) slowly but surely shifted to an abhorrence of their jailor, Truman Hunt. Hunt was a prime example of selfishness, a man who left two wives without a penny and who forced a people whose tradition it was to eat dog perhaps twice a year to eat it every day. If not, they starved, while he made 20 thousand dollars a WEEK and blew it all on women, clothes, hotels and gambling. He made up lies about them frequently to draw in the public

Who are the real vermin? The pages of this book turned so fast for me! I was enthralled by Prentice’s research skills and her ability to write the story with carefully considered human interest, the same that is decried by a few finicky reviewers who say that she could not possibly know what anyone else is feeling. Thus say the potential Truman Hunts of the world! #Claire Prentice #Coney Island #Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt