Right now I am almost finished with my first reading of The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History and 50 pages into Renia’s Diary: A Journal of the Holocaust. This weekend and Monday I shall finish Renia’s Diary, but after I complete The Napoleonic Wars, I shall put it aside and reread it later. Why? Because the history in it is dense, and difficult to understand (though I am embarrassed to admit that), and because of this difficult to remember once understood. So I shall do something I habitually did in high school: read the textbook (it was an Honors textbook) three times before the test. I shall buy Napoleon: A Biography by Andrew Roberts for a better understanding of the man behind the battles and Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon by Marie-Pierre Rey, because part of my reading has to do with the book I am working on.
The reasons I want to understand the Napoleonic Wars is for a book about Russia and the Western block of countries in its orbit: Tales from the Land of the Firebird Part I. I hope to read more for Tales from the Land of the Firebird Part II, but it will be about the Balkans and Central Asia. I need to look around for my books on the Baltic region. Tales from the Land of the Firebird Part II will be a later book, however. For now I am working my way through the materials for Part I, which needs to be done so hurriedly because I want the book out in time to do Ukraine some good–if a mere book like mine can be said to do good. I believe Dickens novels did good in the way I hope to. Yet I don’t exactly have a sales record like Dickens. Still, the only way to achieve greatness is to aspire to it.
As for Renia’s Diary, I am reading it over the weekend until Monday. Though I am reading only books for Tales of the Land of the Firebird Part I during the week, on weekends (and occasionally Mondays) I have a lengthy list of Holocaust books to read. I am hoping to either teach a class, lead a seminar or lead a group based on my Holocaust reading in the fall. When I finish with them I shall pick up my books of Swedish history and literature for a separate project, A History of Frances Westin Williams. Frances Williams was my beloved Grandma, the one who was the child of Swedish pioneers; graduated valedictorian from High School; was the first female editor of the Washburn School Journal; and worked as a Social Worker before marrying my Grandpa. Alas, during her generation–she was in college in the twenties–it wasn’t feasible for her to be more than a housewife as a married woman–but even there she shown, as the parent of three college graduates and one mentally handicapped son, whom she doted on.