Summer Sunday Daze: On My Reading List for July

(C) 2013 Henry Holt

Hi, Constant Reader. It’s Sunday, July 12, and as I start this post noon is not that far away on this hot summer day. Right now the temperature outside is 92˚F (33˚C), and with humidity at 66% and a 3 MPH southwesterly breeze factored in, the heat index (or “feels like”) temperature is 108˚F (42˚C) under mostly sunny skies. The forecast calls for a high of 93˚F (34˚C) and partly sunny skies on a hot and humid day.

I woke up not too long ago; I went to bed late after we watched A Bridge Too Far on the TV in the Florida room from 8:45 PM till almost 12 AM. I wasn’t sleepy when the movie ended, so I decided to putter about on Facebook and, afterwards, read a book from my “To Be Read” or TBR pile until I did get drowsy.

Like my late mother and my beloved maternal grandfather “Quique,” I’m a voracious reader. And when I set my mind to reading, I don’t just focus, laser-like, on one book; I read between four or five a month, cycling randomly from a small stack that is literally a TBR pile.

Last night’s pick was Rick Atkinson’s The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945. This is the third volume in Atkinson’s The Liberation Trilogy, a highly readable saga covers the Anglo-American efforts to liberate Western Europe from its German conquerors during World War II. (The first book in the trilogy, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, earned the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2003; the second book, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, covered the travails of the Western Allies in the Mediterranean Theater.

The Liberation Trilogy box set. (C) 2013 Henry Holt. Photo Credit: The Liberation Trilogy official website

The Guns at Last Light delves into the stage of World War II which is more familiar to readers in Western Europe and North America: the last 11 months of the war in Europe. Starting with the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) and ending with the two unconditional surrender ceremonies (one on May 7, 1945 at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s headquarters in Reims, France, the other on May 8 in Berlin), The Guns at Last Light is a gripping and often lyrical account of the triumphs, tragedies, and ironies of the campaign to free Western Europe and destroy Adolf Hitler’s murderous and ruinous Third Reich.

© 2019 Library of America/Penguin Random House

Speaking of the liberation of Europe and its triumphs and tragedies, I’m still reading my compact hardcover, Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far from the Library of America collection. Edited by Rick Atkinson, the author of the aforementioned Liberation Trilogy, this volume collects two-thirds of the Irish-born popular historian’s unofficial “World War II Trilogy” – 1959’s The Longest Day and 1974’s A Bridge Too Far. (The third book in the series, 1966’s The Last Battle, about the Battle of Berlin, is not part of the Library of America collection, and some of its conclusions about why the Anglo-American forces didn’t “race” the Red Army to Berlin in the spring of 1945 have been discredited anyway.)

I’ve already read The Longest Day, Ryan’s classic about the first 24 hours of the Normandy invasion. I started on A Bridge Too Far, the story of Operation Market-Garden a few days ago; I’m still on Part One: The Retreat, which sets the scene for the greatest airborne operation ever attempted.

(C) 2019 Del Rey Books and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

As much as I enjoy military history, I like to have a bit of variety in my leisure time activities, and that includes the genres that I include in my TBR pile. Currently, I’ve added one of the many Star Wars books in my collection, including Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost.

This 2019 book is British author Cavan Scott’s script to Random House Audio’s eponymous audio drama from last summer. I love audio dramas – I have two slightly different editions of the original 1981-1996 National Public Radio Star Wars radio dramas on CD. However, the audio version Dooku: Jedi Lost is only available as a download, and as much as I would like to hear it, I’m not quite willing to go that route. Instead, I bought the script in a hardcover edition.

As you can surmise from the book’s title and cover art, Dooku: Jedi Lost is the origins story of Count Dooku, the Jedi Master turned Sith Lord introduced in 2002’s Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and one of the principal antagonists in Lucasfilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series. The story follows Dooku’s story arc from his days as a 12-year-old Jedi Initiate to his apprenticeship with the Jedi Order’s Grand Master Yoda and his career as a brilliant but somewhat conflicted Jedi Master. Many familiar Star Wars characters from the Prequel Era movies and TV show have their share of scenes and cameos, including Dooku’s apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn and then-Senator Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious.

So far, Dooku: Jedi Lost is proving to be entertaining and insightful; I’m still at a part of the story where the future leader of the Separatist movement is a youthful Jedi apprentice, but even this early in the plot, the author is dropping small but significant hints of future event and character traits that are the key to understanding how a powerful and well-respected Jedi could be turned to the Dark Side of the Force.

Well, my friends, that’s all I have to say for now, so until next time, have a good Sunday, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things tomorrow!

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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