House of Stone -- A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt '12, $26, 311 pages, ASIN #0547134665. No index, bibliography, notes or illustrations.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Shadid was in the first rank of foreign correspondents when captured in Libya as the nation was seized by revolution. After being cuffed and beaten, Shadid was freed to go home. So far, so good. But the home he returned to was his great-grandfather's estate, a house that Shadid had begun to rebuild three years earlier.
Because Shadid died tragically in early 2012 while on assignment in Syria, the task of summarizing the author's book is left to his publisher: "House of Stone is the story of a battle-scarred home and a war correspondent's jostled spirit, and of how reconstructing the one came to fortify the other. In this poignant and resonant memoir, Shadid creates a mosaic of past and present, tracing the house's renewal alongside his family's flight from Lebanon to America. In the process, Shadid memorializes a lost world, documents the shifting Middle East, and provides profound insights into this volatile landscape. House of Stone is an unforgettable meditation on war, exile, rebirth, and the universal yearning for home."
In a review of Shadid's work, Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, writes: "I was captivated, instantly, by Anthony Shadid's lushly evocative prose. Crumbling Ottoman outposts, doomed pashas, and roving bandits feel immediate, familiar and relevant. Lose yourself in these pages, where empires linger, grandparents wander, and a battered Lebanon beckons us home. Savor it all. If Garcia Marquez had explored nonfiction, Macondo would feel as real as Marjayoun."
Anthony Shadid (1968-20I2) wrote for years for the Washington Post from Iraq and for The New York Times from the Middle East. In 2010, he earned his second Pulitzer.
Savage Continent -- Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe, St. Martin's Press '12, $30, 460 pages, ASIN #1250000203. Index, notes, sources, two groupings of b&w glossy images, other b&w images sprinkled through text.
The notion that affairs returned to normal in Europe in the wake of World War II is a dangerous myth and one that this book attempts to destroy. "Across Europe, "....landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed and more than 35 million people had been killed in the war," writes historian Keith Lowe. "The institutions now taken for granted -- the police, media, transportation, local and national government -- were either entirely absent or hopelessly compromised. Crime rates were soaring, economies collapsing, and the European population was hovering on the brink of starvation."
In some sections of Europe, says Lowe, the population simply refused to believe the war was over. Against this background, the author outlines "the warped morality and the insatiable urge for vengeance that were the legacy of the conflict." But, beyond this, ethnic cleansing tore lives of ordinary people apart from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. As if this weren't enough, "the struggle between communism and capitalism....again caused civil wars across Europe, and eventually tore the continent in half."
Author Keith Lowe has written two novels and one nonfiction work about World War II. He lives in London with his family.
The Wages of Destruction -- The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze, Penguin '08 paperback. $20, 800 pages, ASIN #0143113208. Index, notes, appendix, no bibliography, grouping of b&w images, other b&w images sprinkled through text.
"From the back cover:
"Adam Tooze's controversial new book shatters the still persistent myth that Nazi Germany was an unstoppable juggernaut backed by an efficient, highly industrialized economy. The Wages of Destruction challenges the conventional interpretatinos of that period to explore how Hitler's surprisingly prescient vision -- ultimately hindered by Germany's limited resources and his own racial ideology -- was to create a Germany superstate to dominate Europe and compete with what he saw as America's overwhelmingly power in a soon-to-be-globalized world. This is a chilling work of originality and tremendous scholarship that fundamentally changes the way in which history views the Second World War."
Author Adam Tooze teaches in the history faculty, University of Cambridge, where he is the Hart Fellow in History at Jesus College. He has a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.