Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Girl Who Loved Christmas


The Girl Who Loved Christmas

          I had always wanted a Christmas baby; a special gift at a special time. When my fifth child was due to be born on December 25th, I was ecstatic, but nervous about the likely prospect of spending the holidays in the hospital. I just had to be home for Christmas. Somehow I conveyed that message to my overly ripe body and delivered the baby 10 days before Christmas Eve. Noelle Marie, French for ‘Merry Christmas,’ entered the world with a caul over her face, a white ‘Angel’s veil,’ reputed through legend to be a sign of a lucky or gifted child. I pondered that phenomenon in my heart, briefly, but was more impressed by the fact that the two of us had conspired to be home for Christmas — home with her father and four excited siblings.
          I distinctly remember that Christmas Eve. It was snowing, a soft and silent snow that blanketed our tiny home in white velvet. We laid the baby in a cradle in front of the scraggly ‘Charlie Brown’ pine tree, decorated with homemade ornaments and tediously strung popcorn. Next to her sat the wooden manger housing the Holy Family, which her father had made, topped with a beaming ceramic guardian angel, that had fallen off the nail at the top of the pointed roof so many times that her smile was chipped and crooked. Noelle, dressed in a red and white Santa Claus jumpsuit, resembled a tiny elf as she gazed up at the colored lights on the tree with unfocused eyes, wrinkled and funny-faced, unaware of her status.
          Today, when remembering Christmases past, that day waxes sharp in my memory, followed by other Christmases, some joyous, some harried with six children throwing up. That year, unbeknownst to her father and me, Noelle and her sisters sampled the eggnog. We found 11-year-old Noelle trying to fly like an airplane around the large dining room table until she collapsed into a fit of giggles. Needless to say, they were all severely reprimanded, putting a slight damper on that Christmas.
          Noelle insisted that we watch every Christmas television special as a family, sobbed each year over ‘It's a Wonderful Life,’ and generally drove us to distraction with her frantic preparations for the holiday. One Christmas we baked flour dough ornaments, and one of Noelle’s gingerbread boys looked exactly like ‘Mr. Bill,’ on Saturday Night Live, which forever gave him a special place on the tree; second in importance only to the bedraggled Angel that dangled off the treetop. Noelle refused to part with or replace any of our original decorations, which were all beginning to show their age. She was contagious with her love for Christmas, and bonded with the holiday almost as if her name gave her an aura or presence that ordinary-named portals could not grasp.
          She loved baking the cookies, decorating the tree, attending midnight Mass, and sharing in the giving of gifts, no matter how great or small. The season was hers. She reveled in it. Her zest for the holidays, however, did not extend to cleaning the house or washing the mountains of dishes following sumptuous holiday feasts. She talked about helping, and insisted she did more than her share, but somehow had a unique ability to disappear from the face of the earth whenever chores needed to be done. And even in a household of five outraged siblings, she usually got away with it.
          This Christmas, 23 years after her birth, I still marvel at the magic of the season, coveting the memories of a newborn babe lying beneath the Christmas tree, personifying the birth of Christ; and the magic of a young girl who cherished the celebration of the birth of the King, and knew how to give homage. That magic will never die.
          Noelle’s last Christmas fell right after her 13th birthday. She was nearly a young woman then, with the gangliness of puberty rushing headlong into the promise of beautiful womanhood. But on ‘her holiday’ she retained the naivety of a child, bursting with love and eagerness. The pond behind our house froze solid that year, and the logs in the old Ben Franklin stove blazed warmth and comfort to six nearly frozen ice skaters. Noelle, as on every year, caught us all up in her joy and excitement. She could barely contain herself.
          The Christmas which shortly followed her death, caused by a drunk driver, was not somber. We were obligated by unknown forces to celebrate Christmas in her honor as she would have; and in doing so eased our grief.
          Other subsequent Christmases, not shielded by shock, were not so easy, and for several years Christmas without Noelle seemed a contradiction in terms. As passing years made our sorrow bearable the ambience Noelle evoked at Christmas slowly drifted back into our lives. Maybe it was the birth of her first nephew, born two years later on the day of Noelle’s death; her way of not allowing us to mourn that day? Maybe it was just the lapsing of time and life renewing itself. Maybe she taught us, albeit we fought the knowledge, that love lives on though life is fragile. I don't know. I only know that the true spirit of Christmas was shown to me through the eyes of a lovely young girl named Noelle Marie.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS FAMILY PORTRAIT

This is a slice of life story of a family taking their kids to be photagraphed for the Holiday portrait

I smiled to myself when they told me of their plans. As a mother, I believe even grown children should learn by experience. I had to hang up the phone before spasms of laughter overtook me. My two daughters thought that taking all of their children to a professional photographer would make wonderful Christmas presents for the grandparents. Ideas are always best in their infancy.

On the hottest day of December in decades, the children were dressed in their winter finery and off we went to the Mall. One daughter’s three boys were all sick with low-grade temperatures and noses running like Niagara Falls. Endless nose-wiping with tissues on gentle skin resulted in red faces and grumpy dispositions. Makeup partially solved that problem. She is blessed with a good-natured five-year-old, a tyrannical terrible two-year-old and a one-year old with attitude.

 
Her sister has a nine-year-old, Nicky, already protesting the humiliation of posing with his “baby” cousins, and a daughter, Bailey, who at four believes that one cannot be too rich or beautifully dressed. Local clothing stores know her by name. The photograph studio is seasonally crowded, with tykes of assorted ages running amok and babies wailing—not my choice of a fun day.
 
The temperature keeps rising as well as parents’ tempers while appointments typically run behind. One-year-old TJ takes a power nap, while his two-year-old brother, Brandon, makes several escape attempts, one almost successful. At long last, my family is called for their shoot. Nicky, still disgruntled, is itchy from his woolen Christmas suit, and has broken out into livid hives,announcing that he may throw up. His sister, Bailey, the ‘Calvin Klein’ of the four-year-old set, insists that the tights she’s wearing are certainly not the ones she chose with her outfit and begins to remove them,much to her brother’s chagrin and mother’s horror.
 
The wannabe, ‘Ansel Adams’, manages to get all five children lined up for the photo take. A smile seems permanently pasted on her face. Things begin to get scary. Brandon is sitting in the sleigh as the session begins. For reasons known only to her, she decides that this will not work and tries to remove Brandon form the sleigh. Did I mention Brandon has a bit of a temper? He screams so loudly that the security guards rush in like Marines on a mission. TJ begins to suck his thumb, a habit he’s never exhibited before, and Christopher, his older brother, slinks to the floor in an effort to appear invisible. Nicky tries to pretend that he is not with this family. Bailey has her hand on her hip, a glint in her eye and one foot pushed forward—never a good sign. Now the future photo genius snaps the shot!
 
The photographer is determined to complete her job. She lines everyone up again for some final takes. It seems to be going well, until she snaps the picture at the precise moment Brandon, who now refuses to sit in the sleigh on principle, catapults backward off the platform. There are more blood-curdling screams, but he’s unhurt since he is a very tough little boy. By now the other parents are quietly moving away from my family, some actually leaving the store.

The photographer makes one last attempt to catch the children on film. She is, if nothing else, courageous. All the kids are in place at last. It is a bit much to hope for smiles from them, so she clicks away at the exact moment Brandon once more falls off the platform, leaving both legs sticking up in the air. The shoot is over.

My daughters are not happy with the shots but I find them spectacular. TJ has a startled ‘Oh’ on his mouth and it may take a while for him to recover from this experience. Christopher has a perpetual smile on his face, but it is rumored that he believes he was switched at birth. Nicky is disgusted by the entire event and Bailey is asking for a reshoot. All that can be seen of Brandon is his two legs sticking up—perhaps his best shot.


 My girls wanted to know how I ever photographed all six of my kids.

“Are you crazy”? I asked “I never took all of you out at once, except to church, until you went to school.” Some things must be learned, not taught. Meanwhile the picture with all the kids is a conversation piece, especially the kid showing only two legs.
 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

HOLIDAY MAGIC



                  HOLIDAY MAGIC

In spite of the economy and all its miseries, as the Holiday Season descends upon us like the first gentle snowfall of winter, we cannot help but be caught up in its magic. A magic instilled within us as children, passed on to future generations; a magic dating back to that most profoundly magical night in Bethlehem almost 2000 years ago. There was hope that year, for a new world and that hope has nurtured us throughout the ensuing centuries with all its horrors and its wonders. It is this same magic, which might be called faith, that will sustain us as we enter a turbulent new year.

The past year has been rough and it's been depressing. The upcoming new year offers little hope of immediate or lasting retrieval. The on-going recession looms constantly over the heads of middle-class Americans even as economic soothsayers insist that it is lifting. The public is not fooled, its members live in the real world, not one created by the number sheets of statisticians. What we need as the holidays approach is a little bit of magic to uplift sagging spirits.

Along with the relentless recession, we are still carrying the problems of the past with us, making some headway, but hardly enough to make a dent in the ills facing society. The homeless, to our great shame, are still homeless. City children are still being killed or maimed by random bullets and drug-related disputes. AIDS continues its merciless assault on young lives in spite of education, free condoms in the school system and safer sexual practices, using different avenues of transmission; for every one step forward, it seems there are two steps backward.

We have made major strides in the fight against cancer, but are no closer to a proven cure, although we are more aware of preventative measures through the adoption of healthier lifestyles.

Most people have been forced to cut back drastically in their spending habits. Food prices are up, but supermarkets thrive because we all have to eat, though not as well as in the past. Food coupons are dated to expire within a shorter time period, as industry tries to seduce the public into buying their products quickly. Yet nobody blames the very rich or the very poor for the recession. The middle-class takes all the heat for the "decadence" of the past decades.

The poor suffer because of the budget cuts slashing essential social services, but the middle class not only bears the brunt of the times, but is the only segment of the population that can reverse the recession by increased spending; and there is no extra money to stimulate a sluggish economy. The middle-class remains financially strapped, with misplaced guilt, yet helpless to make the needed changes.

Politicians are still found to be either corrupt or inept, and sometimes both. A long-lasting recession makes desperate people look for scapegoats. Instead of unleashing their frustrations on the government where it belongs, they tend to turn against minorities; one more flaw in human nature.

The fate of Mother Earth is still in jeopardy, although aware and caring organizations are struggling to institute beneficial changes that will halt the abuse of the planet. It would be prudent to remember that the earth is far more resilient than the humans presently in dominion of her. The world has undergone tumultuous changes throughout the ages and while we prefer not to think of it, the most endangered species is humanity.

The year has not been all bad. Freedom and democracy are rippling across the world like the waves of a stone tossed into a still lake. Most Americans are aware today that democracy and capitalism is a double-edged sword and can be used for both good and greed. Other nations embracing it are expecting it to be the panacea for their economic ills, a miracle cure, but possibly a false hope. Capitalism, given free reign by democracy can be manipulated and abused far more than despotism. History suggests that humanity has not yet reached the heights that freedom offers, yet succumbs easily to its pitfalls. In the biblical story of Eden, when Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, what she tasted was freedom and it was bittersweet.

Still freedom gives us the options of choice. All men are not created equal. Watch a cocaine-addicted or fetal-alcohol-syndrome baby if you doubt this. What is equal is the human capacity to rise above genetic annihilation tendencies and challenge the problems of a troubled society. If middle-class Americans are going to be blamed for the country's financial woes, then it is the obligation of that segment of the population to demand change and settle for nothing less.

During this Holiday Season, some of us may have less material things; a smaller turkey, batches of cookies that won't last until spring, and presents given with more feeling than material worth; which is what the holidays are supposed to be about. It is a time to gather with friends and loved ones, thankful to be together, mourning those we may have lost; a time to contemplate that most precious commodity, love, and consider how we might apply it to a shaky future. The magic of Christmas--thank God it exists, and may we all hold on to a little of it for next year.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One of the Best Scfi Books of the Times

Inspector of the Cross

By

John B. Rosenman

Inspector Turtan is in fine shape for someone 3,573 years old. He owes this to suspended animation on so many freeze spaceships. Traveling solo is a lonely job . . . Not to mention the loves, family and friends that he's outlived. Yet as Inspector of the Cross, it's his mission to find the ultimate weapon to save humanity from the enemy -- the Cenknife aliens bent on controlling the known universe . . . In in spite of compensations, it's a terribly lonely job.

Will this trip to the desolate planet, Sircon IV, harbor what Turtan needs, "The Godstone?" His aged monkey-like host hopes to reassure Turtan that it is a myth, a useless relic of no merit, revered by religious barbarians from a past long since gone. Turtan, superb at his long-held job, senses the Overlord is lying. Lucan insists a visit to the pillar would not be worthwhile for reasons he refuses to expound upon. The two banter back and forth as Lucan holds his position in the most polite way, while pointing out that the living alien chair wrapped around Turtan contains deadly needles controlled by the simple thought waves of the Overlord. And he'd seemed like such a sweet old man. They finally come to an agreement and journey to the pillar across desert sands and into a dark cool cave. The Monolith, 6 meters high, stands before Turtan. His first thought is . . . The Godstone is alive.

After playing some dangerous mind games, including one where there is suddenly three of him, each a part of his psyche, Turtan writes his report to his superiors, stating that the Godstone is not the weapon he's been searching for -- Lucan had warned him of the Monolith's tendency to trickery. Now he believes him .

50 years later he awakens from his freeze sleep just above Planet Zontena, his next assignment. In cosmic time, only 20 light-years from Ohio, where he'd grown up -- but a far cry from the "tall cuddly birdlike" race who delight in games and cosmetic surgery, armed with no spaceships at all. Still a weapon has been reported here -- could this be the "one" which will save the human race? Computer statistics state there is a strong possibility. And why is a beautiful young inspector named Yori already here before him? Like an interstellar Sherlock Holmes, Turtan ruminates over this puzzle -- on a planet that loves games.

Tension grows as Turtan's ultimate enemy, a Cen named Turois, shows up as well. Unlike the rest of his race, this alien has feelings. How did that happen? What game is the seemingly placid Eden-like planet up to, and who will be the winner in a deadly race to control humanity?

This is an engaging sci-fi story on so many levels. Things are never what they seem and alien differences, often startling, make the reader rethink "humanity." Amidst a war thousands of years long, stretched across endless galaxies, and through black holes, surprises abound from the strangest of places, while complexity often shows a simple face. Author John B. Rosenman has again composed a story both exciting and engrossing, as his plotting unpeels like a ripened onion giving off a plethora of probable conclusions which can suddenly veer off in different directions. Rife with subtle subterfuges, he brings both humor and cleverness to this novel which builds to an unforeseen brilliant climax. This is a book that lovers of this genre and those new to it will not want to miss. It's just that good.

Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dragonbride ( The Dragon Chronicles, Book 1) By Raani York

Dragonbride ( The Dragon Chronicles, Book 1)
By
Raani York
It's Imra’s destiny to “fulfill one of the oldest scriptures known to the world,” but at great cost to herself. And so begins a magical tale of love, impending evil and dragons. Author Raani York’s debut fantasy is a breathtaking, delightful and at times terrifying story of an era when dragons watched over humankind, who attempted to both appease and worship them. The beautiful Imra is a witch with powers of her own which will bring about the foretold burden as this amazing story unfolds . . . And perhaps upon the babe she births, and then hands over to others as the prophecy demands.
Shalima is raised by two aunts and trained in magic arts by a sorcerer, whose later identity comes as a shock. An ardent student, she senses she is destined for something special. But even she is overcome by the discovery that this specialty — one that is hers alone — one she's only heard of in legends-- will forever change the world.
The young magician becomes of age, passes through three tests at a tribunal of witches; even the oldest and strongest is no match for this chosen girl. Her fate is sealed. She will become wife to the Golden Dragon for eternity. The love between Shalima and her shape shifter husband, Dragan, is boundless — no love could be greater than theirs — in both human and Dragon form. Yet a cloud dims their bliss. They are destined to enforce a prophecy that only they can, and nothing can prevent the prophecy from coming true. Time is limited, chances slim, and odds against them. The world turns on its daily spin, unaware of its impending doom.
It is so tempting to tell you more . . . Of this quest full of adventure, romance, trust; a bond for the ages beset with trials that threaten the love and future of the Golden Dragon and his lovely magician bride. This book brings out the magic that lives within all fantasy lovers; its humor crops up unexpectedly and causes laughter.
Author Raani York has written a memorable first novel that will charm and entrance YA and all readers who love to curl up with a book that takes one off into the blissful, if often treacherous magical days of yore where one can revel in its truth, beauty and tragic losses. Waiting for the author’s forthcoming sequel will be torture . . . But not for long.
Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Witching Hours


Strange shadows dart stealthily across sparely lit streets, as dusk settles heavily on quiet neighborhoods of tree-lined sidewalks and cheerful well-kept homes. The eerie scream of a screechowl,more likely the brakes of a passing car, echoes deep into the night. Looming ominously from nearly every window is the menacing glare of smirking Jack-o-lanterns, while the often nervous refrain of "Trick or Treat" rings out in repetitious peals. Halloween is here, and with it the shivery remembrance of things that go bump in the night.

Halloween, a holiday once favored second to Christmas, is not as much fun as it used to be. The last few Halloweens have brought tampering scares, such as finding razors in apples and poisoned candy. A sick segment of society has forced many parents to hold neighborhood parties, instead of allowing their children to trick or treat. The tricks have been turned on the children, ruining an a once magical evening.

Gone are the days when children, dressed up hideously, or gaudily beautiful, could enter the home of a stranger, and be offered chilled apple cider with cinnamon stick straws, and homemade gingerbread, or cupcakes with orange icing and candy corn faces. No longer can mischievous children creep up on neighborhood porches to toss corn kernels against the front door, or generously soap window panes, without triggering house alarms and angering guard dogs kept behind locked fences. The mystical lure of Halloween is becoming a commercial interprise for the sale of candy, costumes and decorations.

Halloween is a Christian name meaning All Hallows, or All Saint's Day, but the custom of Halloween dates back to the Celtic cult in Northern Europe. As the Roman conquest pushed north, the Latin festival of the harvest god, Pomona, mingled with the Druid god, Samhain. Eventually, the Christians adopted the Celtic rites into their own observances.

Halloween signified the return of the herds from the pasture, renewal of laws and land tenures, and the practice of divinations with the dead, presumed to visit their homes on this day. For both the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, Halloween marked the eve of a new year. The Britains were convinced that divinations concerning health, death and luck, were most auspicious on Halloween. The devil, himself, was evoked for such purposes.

The Druid year began on November first, and on the eve of that day, the lord of death gathered the souls of the dead who had been condemned to enter the body of animals to decide what form they should take for the upcoming year; the souls of the good entered the body of another human at death. The Druids considered cats to be sacred, believing these animals had once been human, changed into cats as punishment for evil deeds.

The Druid cults were outlawed by the Romans during their reign in Great Britain, but the Celtic rites have survived, in part, to the present day. By the time these ancient rites migrated to America, the mystic significance was lost, and all that has remained is an evening when children can dress in outrageous costumes, and collect candy from obliging neighbors; yet a tiny part of every child still believes in witches, ghosts, and the nameless entities that creep about on Halloween, relatives, to their young minds, of the monster that lives under every child's bed.

In the ancient days, it was believed that Halloween was the night chosen by witches and ghosts to freely roam, causing mischief and harm. Witchcraft existed before biblical times, believed in by ancient Egyptians, Romans and American Indians. The Christian Church held varying opinions on witchcraft, at one time accrediting it to be an illusion, later accepting it as a form of alliance with the devil. As late as 1768, disbelief in witchcraft was regarded as proof of atheism.

Halloween customs varied from country to country, but all were related to the Celtic rites. Immigrants to this country, particularly the Scotch and Irish, introduced some of the customs remaining today, but there were many more that are unfamiliar. On Halloween in Scotland, women sowed hemp seed into plowed land at midnight, repeating the formula: "Hemp seed I sow, who will my husband be, let him come and mow." Looking over her left shoulder, a woman might see her future mate.

Apples and a six-pence were put into a tub of water, and whoever succeeded in extracting either of them with his mouth, but without using his teeth, was guaranteed a lucky year. In the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century, families would march about their fields on Halloweem, walking from right to left, with lighted torches, believing this would assure good crops. In other parts of Scotland, witches were accused of stealing milk and harming cattle. Boys took peat torches and carried them across the fields, from left to right(widdershins), in an effort to scare the witches away.

The Scots strongly believed in fairies. If a man took a three-legged stool to an intersection of three roads, and sat on it at midnight, he might hear the names of the people destined to die in the coming year. However, if he tossed a garment to the fairies, they would happily revoke the death sentence.

Scotland's witches held a party on Halloween. Seemingly ordinary women, who had sold their souls to the devil, put sticks, supposedly smeared with the fat of murdered babies, into their beds. These sticks were said to change into the likenesses of the women, and fly up the chimney on broomsticks, attended by black cats, the witchs' familiars.

In Ireland, a meal of callcannon, consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and parsnips, was solemnly served on Halloween. Stirred into this concoction, was a ring, a thimble, a coin, and a doll. The finder of the ring would marry soon, the finder of the doll would have many children, the thimble finder would never marry, and the one fortunate enough to find the coin would be rich. Jack-o-lanterns originated from Ireland, where according to newspaper editor and writer, George William Douglas, " a stingy man named Jack was barred from Heaven because of his penuriousness, and forbidden to enter Hell because of his practical jokes on the devil, thus condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day."

A more serious custom was the holding of the General Assembly(Freig) at Tara, in Celtic Ireland, celebrated every three years and lasting two weeks. Human sacrifices to the gods opened the ceremonies, the victims going up in flames.

England borrowed many of the Scotch and Irish customs, adding them to their own. Young people bobbed for apples, and tied a lighted candle to one end of a stick, and an apple to the other. The stick was suspended and set spinning, the object of the game being to bite the apple without getting burned by the candle. This custom was a relic of the fires lighted on the eve of Samhain in the ancient days of the Celts.

The only customs bearing no relation to the ancient rites is the masquerade costumes of today, and Halloween parades. But the custom of masked children asking for treats comes from the seventeenth century, when Irish peasants begged for money to buy luxuries for the feast of St. Columba,a sixth century priest, who founded a monastery off the coast of Scotland.

From the north of England comes the activity known as "mischief night", marked by shenanigans with no particular purpose, or background. Boys and young men overturned sheds, broke windows, and damaged property. Mischief night prevails today, but is mostly limited to throwing eggs, smashing pumpkins, and lathering carswith shaving cream. The custom of trick or treat is observed mainly by small children, going from house to house. The treat is almost always given, and the trick rarely played, except by teenagers, who view Halloween as an excuse to deviate from acceptable behavior.

Children today, knowing little or nothing of the history and myths behind Halloween, still get exited over the prospect of acting out their fantasies of becoming a witch, ghost, devil, or pirate. It is still pleasurable for an adult, remembering Halloweens past, to see the glow on a child's face as he removes his mask and assures you that he's not really a skeleton. Watching the wide-eyed stares of young children warily observing flickering candle-lit pumpkins, is an assurance that even today, thousands of years beyond the witch and ghost-ridden days of the Druids, a little of the magic of Halloween remains. Children need a little magic to become creative adults; adults need a little magic to keep the child in them alive. So if, on this Halloween, you notice a black cat slink past your door, trailing behind a horde of make-believe goblins, it probably belongs to a neighbor. And the dark shadow whisking across the face of a nearly full moon is only the wisp of a cloud, not a witch riding a broom... probably.


By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

Open, locks,

Whoever knocks!

-Shakespeare

Sunday, September 21, 2014

War Babies

The Generation that changed America

By Richard Pells

Author Richard Pell’s fascinating historical account explores the years of Americans born from 1939 through 1945. He states throughout the course of the book that War Babies “initiated most of the social and cultural motivations that Boomers have taken credit for over the years," often rewriting history to fit their own philosophy. He covers all sectors of this generation, including musicians, film directors, composers, actors, athletes, journalists, politicians and more. War Babies’ contribution, according to the author, has and continues “to shape our lives and culture in the 21st century. “ Pells notes that on May 30, 2012, a picture of Bob Dylan receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and on the same day the editorial-page of the New York Times celebrated Paul Simon’s contribution to music — confirming this writer’s statements.

The Boomers were too young to have experienced the new exciting revolutions; folk music, movies like “The Graduate,” the Kennedy assassinations, McCarthyism, the Korean War, and Vietnam, just to name a few of the events that changed the course of the country. Author Pells, a war baby himself, born in 1941, takes his readers on a journey of factual memories of a special time in America's history, which has not been given the recognition it deserves. He writes of his personal life, growing up in a Jewish family — his grandmother fleeing the pogroms in Poland, just missing the coming Holocaust — only to endure ethnic discrimination in America.

This is an exceptional book in that it not only presents a cultural historical viewpoint but peppers it with background information such as Robert Zimmerman who later became Bob Dylan, as well as the troubled childhood of Faye Dunaway. This riveting, fast-paced enjoyable account of the connections and similarities of this country's most famous icons make it a hard book to put down. The author shows how War Babies from entertainers to politicians and journalists, through their own deprivations, paved the way for a new and better society in all walks of life. Their stories come from poverty, wars, struggles, and determination, laying the groundwork for a better life; the likes of which this present generation will never again experience. Nor will today's technological society fully know, understand or have the moral internal strengths, endurance and perseverance of the War Babies . . . A sad thing, a great loss.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is the author's ability to link and interweave the diverse personalities and achievements of both the cultural and political men and women, as he demonstrates how this generation molded the future. Known as ‘the Quiet Generation,' it made the transition from ‘the Greatest Generation’ to the ‘Lost Generation,' carried on through the legacy of parents who bestowed its benefits upon their children. Pells contends that while War Babies have managed to reshape the culture and politics of America from the 1960s until now," the author leaves us with a prognosis that “is both frightening and liberating.”

This work by Richard Pells, who is, among other things, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, should be used by educators as a textbook and required reading for students — as both an excellent lesson and research resource. War Babies is so saturated with cultural memories of an often forgotten past that it overwhelms the reader’s senses, but in a most positive and pleasurable way.

Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang