August 22, 2012 by Ronn Ives, under Larger Forces at Work.
Part One: October 30, 2002
I’m finally reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, written by William Shirer in 1959. I find it ASTOUNDING how this book was assembled and written with such thoroughness, style, accuracy, and relative speed from the ashes of a devastated world.
My copy is paperback, printed in 1968 – the 5th printing in less than a decade. It was still selling in huge quantities 23 years after the end of WWII! The book is 1,500 pages of small print and even smaller footnotes. Incredible. I’m only 75 pages into it and have already needed to tape the cover back on. A yellowed paperback just seemed somehow appropriate to me when I purchased this chronicle.
The book was a best seller. THAT requires A LOT of readers. I asked myself: “Could there BE be BEST SELLER HISTORY BOOK – NOW – with 1,500 pages of small type and no pictures?” I’ve been in better moods than I am at the moment, but my answer is still a considered “No.”
Try and come up with a contemporary equal. I dare you. Imagine the book of 1,500 pages that documents every tiny, related speck of a moment, conversation, and person involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. With no pictures. And all those footnotes. Now imagine that the book isn’t PUBLISHED until 2025 – 14 years after the incident occurred. Do YOU think it would be a “BEST SELLER”? I don’t. Yet, that IS what happened to Shirer’s book. It happened without the cover sporting a color laser 3-D blinky image or the promise of silicone engorged privacies.
My point, if I have one, is I am bothered at the ease at which we Baby Boomers and the Youngers so casually place the Great Depression and World War II on a dusty, old shelf at the same out-of-reach height as many other events over the last 70 years… as though we aren’t reaping the hard-won gifts given to us by those that suffered. WE have SURVIVORS – PARTICIPANTS of these MONUMENTAL events – walking among us even today. THEY do NOT forget these horrors or take for granted what it took to give US what we have.
Part Two: August 23, 2012
My past attitude embarrassed me and I began changing my behavior.
(Note: It is now 10 years after the above writing. I have continued studying World War II. My library now contains not just that one seminal book, but nearly 52,000 pages of books and 554 hours of documentary film footage. I DID change my behavior, and I am better for it.)