War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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This book centers on the Great Patriotic War of 1812 and reflects major historical events from 1805 to 1820. Taking the experience of Bezuhov, Rostov, and Kuragin as the mainline, it connects many events and characters in the alternating description of war and peace. The author cross-described the two lives and two threads of “war” and “peace”, forming an encyclopedic magnificent epic. The basic theme of “War and Peace” is to recognize the just resistance actions of the Russian people during the war, and to praise the patriotic enthusiasm and heroism of the Russian people during the war. But the tone of his work is one of religious benevolence and humanitarianism. He opposes war and sympathizes deeply with the suffering of all sides.

Andrei, Pierre, and others have experienced a tortuous and dialectical development process in their pursuit of ideals and truth. The different mental manifestations of the Russian troops in different battles, such as panic, calmness, and passion, combined with the distinctive individual psychological motivations of each bearing in the specific war, melted and formed the spiritual atmosphere in every corner of the battlefield. Morale is the key to win or lose in a war. The novel War and Peace has both the magnificent color of epic novels and the depth of expression in its insight into the psychology of characters and even the entire nation. The work focuses on a panoramic overview of social life, realizing the epic aesthetic ideal of the creative subject and transcending the work itself. War and Peace powerfully exposes and criticizes the decadence of the upper-class society. In the critical autumn of their motherland, they are still fighting for power and wealth, leading a life of luxury and dissipation and shamelessness.

-Coreen C.

Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway

Islands in the Stream: A Novel - Kindle edition by Hemingway ...

Islands in the Stream is a novel by American writer Ernest Hemingway. Published in 1970, it is one of Hemingway’s last works. It tells the story of painter Thomas’s rough experience of life. Painter Thomas went through ups and downs, had two marriage changes, the three children born after marriage were raised by his ex-wife. He loved his career and his children and often went fishing with them. There is a deep bond between father and son. Unfortunately, two of his sons were killed in a car accident, and the only remaining son was killed in World War II. In the end, Thomas decided to throw his personal sorrows and joys behind the tide of the anti-fascist war. In 1942, as the war in Europe raged, Hemingway commanded a submarine in Cuba to gather intelligence on the Nazis on the island, substituting espionage for writing and personal military adventures for brutal warfare. Although opinions vary on Hemingway’s adventures, this serious military action provided valuable material for his writing, based on which he wrote Islands in the Stream. In July 1944, Hemingway fought ground battles against allied troops in Normandy. For more than 20 days, he was in the midst of a bloody struggle.

The severity and danger of this war have never been greater. The terrible memory of the war pained him greatly. Hemingway, who experienced the cruelty of war, was awarded a medal. But the war made him more conscious. His experience of war was written into his series of war novels. In Islands in the Stream, Hemingway, by portraying the image of painter Thomas, once again emphasized the tough man spirit advocated by him, which is unyielding and indomitable. Thomas, the main character of the book, likes painting and fishing. He has been to the America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. But in middle age he chose to live in the Bahamas, rather than on the islands of Cuba which lies in the Gulf Stream. Through the crucible of his mind and body, Thomas persevered and dealt doggedly with his enemies. He embodies the characteristics of the tough guy that Hemingway often describes, and is a very successful artistic model.

-Coreen C.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Farewell to Arms tells the story of an American teenager, Frederick Henry who met Catherine Barkley, a British nurse, while volunteering as an ambulance driver in northern Italy during World War I. Henry was wounded by a shell while on duty at the front and was taken to a Milan hospital. Due to the shortage of nurses, Catherine also came to Milan; the two meet again. This time, Henry found himself deeply in love with Miss Barkley. During the medical treatment in Milan, the two were in love and had a good time. During this time, Catherine became pregnant. When Henry returned to the front from his wounds, he found the Italian army demoralized, full of defeat and despair. German attack finally crushed the Italian resistance.

The soldiers were very excited and anti-war enthusiasm was high.In front of a bridge, the Italian front army began to arrest officers who were alleged to have deserted their posts. Henry escaped execution by jumping into the river while others were interrogated. He finally realized that his duty as a soldier had been washed away with the river. At this time, he has only one purpose: to find Catherine, and then the two would escape the bitter sea of war. Henry travels to Milan and finds that Catherine has gone to a resort town on the frontier. When Henry found Catherine, they were happily together again. However, they were chased by the Italian police and had to flee to Switzerland. Catherine died in childbirth, leaving Henry alone in exile.

Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms successfully created the war-torn hero Henry as a strong, brave, confused, and desperate hero. Through Henry’s disillusionment from hope to disappointment and then to despair, Hemingway profoundly revealed to people the great destruction and injury caused by war to society and humanity. He called on people to have a thorough reflection and awakening to the war, to persist in opposing it as a major and far-reaching cause until one day all mankind can finally say “farewell” to weapons.

-Coreen C.

Front Lines by Michael Grant

Image result for Front linesI don’t normally enjoy history. It’s my worst subject in school, and I can never focus on memorizing facts for tests. Before Front Lines, I have only enjoyed the Dear America series and The Only Thing To Fear by Caroline Richmond. Usually whenever I read one, it feels like I’m in school.

I picked Front Lines off the New Shelf at the Mission Viejo Library because I saw that it was a new Michael Grant book, and I completely freaked out. I didn’t even read the inside cover to see what the book was about until I got home. I originally thought that it was going to be something along the lines of his Gone series, which is still one of my favorite book series. Out of the books I checked out that day, I left this one until the end because I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to read a historical fiction novel.

Front Lines is about an alternate World War II. What if women could fight in the war? The book is told through the perspectives of Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. I think that this book really makes you wonder about how World War II could have been fought differently if women were fighting on the front lines. I’m hoping that a sequel comes out soon. Even though the book is over 500 pages, you still want to know what would happen next.

For people who have fallen in love with the Gone series, I encourage  you to read this book. It’s good for all teens.

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

Front Lines by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Unfortunate Decline of Anna Seghers

annaseghersFame. Money. Glory.

For most prominent celebrities, authors, or personalities, the former nouns are essential to their ways of life. However, what happens after a renowned author loses all of their fame and glory?

Anna Seghers, one of the most important German woman writers of the 1900s, definitely knew the answer to that. Before her untimely death, Seghers wrote many outstanding novels during World War II. Her most popular novels included The Excursion of the Dead Girls, Transit, and The Seventh Cross.

Laden with beautifully-developed symbols and leitmotifs, each of her novels condemned Fascism, especially German Fascism under the influence of Adolf Hitler. Although Seghers herself lived in Fascist Germany for a while, she despised any form of Fascist totalitarianism. Her novels are a clear indicator of her anti-Nazi sentiment. Her novels were loved by many people all around the world. Citizens of Allied countries (during and after World War II) read her works fervently as they also fought against Fascism in Europe.

It was near the end of Seghers’ literary career that she started to lose both fame and glory. Although she fought against totalitarianism in Germany, she soon became a part of the Soviet Communist party while in exile. Simultaneously, Seghers condemned Nazism and preached the tenets of Communism.

After Hitler’s death and the end of the war, Seghers resided in the Soviet-controlled part of Germany. She tenaciously stuck to Communist beliefs, even after Stalin’s infamous show trials, where more people were killed than during the Holocaust. Almost immediately, all of her avid readers in the West were lost. Her American and liberal German readers lost interest in any of her other works. Anna Seghers went from a literary “hero” who fought against Fascism to a “traitor” who only carried on totalitarianism.

Seghers became a “spiritual” follower of Communism, taking part in Soviet politics and condoning the deaths of millions of people. Never again were her books ranked as national best-sellers. After her literary decline, Seghers only published two more novels; however, they did not receive any recognition at all. It was not a matter of how well her works were written; rather, it was a matter of what her novels stood for.

Anna Seghers was a phenomenal author; there was no doubt about that. However, it was what her novels preached that led to her gradual decline. Seghers’ unfortunate tale leads us to a very important conclusion: Individuals must always fight against tenets of evil and fight for tenets of good.

-Elaha N.