Sunday, July 30, 2017

More WWII books from book club

I made my report at out book club at the Guyandotte library on Thursday.  My report was about my WWII jag.  And the main idea is that it is like the story of the blind men who "see" an elephant.  One feels his legs and compares him to a tree....another feels his tail and compares him to a rope.  Etc.  My books have been a bit like that.  Each of the books that I have read have told about how the war affects different places in that time period: Berlin, Germany, France, Italy, and the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw.

I had thought that perhaps I would get off this "jag" and read something else, but by serendipity others had read WWII books as well.  So whether I read them now or later, I wanted to put down some of the ideas,

Here are the WWII books that were suggested:

Kinderlater by Milton Gay Mieuwsma about the children of the Holocaust (need to check spelling)
Skeletons at the Feast about East Germans who farmed
The Maggie Bright about England and Dunkirk
And If I Perish a book about nurses in the Philippines
We Band of Angels about nurses in Africa
Story Teller by Jodie Picolt about the Holocaust

A couple of other books were mentioned of interest to me:

First I killed my Father (Cambodia) by author of Lucky Girl which tells about her life after she comes to the US
Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott about women spies during the Civil War in US
Frog Music by Emma Donahue

Weeks later I found this review:

"Ellen Marie Wiseman's provocative and realistic images of a small German village are exquisite. The Plum Tree will find good company on the shelves of those who appreciated Skeletons at the Feast, by Chris Bohjalian, Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, and Night, by Elie Wiesel." --NY Journal of Books

"The meticulous hand-crafted detail and emotional intensity of The Plum Tree immersed me in Germany during its darkest hours and the ordeals its citizens had to face. A must-read for WWII Fiction aficionados--and any reader who loves a transporting story." --Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us

"Wiseman eschews the genre's usual military conflicts of daily life during wartime, lending an intimate and compelling po.....

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Before the Dawn

I couldn't decide between reading one more WWII book or starting something else.  Sitting on the porch, the first book that I came to as I went down the audible list was Before the Dawn.  I have barely started, but I already have two ideas that I want to put down on the blog.

First is that almost the only thing that we have from the time period of the wonderful paintings on the walls in France is just that:  the wonderful paintings on the walls in France.  And those paintings were done by my own ancestors according to the mtDNA test that I took.

Second is the idea that it has only been since 2003 that the full sequence of the human genome has been available as a tool for understanding the history of the human.  I have been involved in DNA for genealogy for what seems like such a long time that I forget that it is such a new study.  I find my interest in the book waning and ebbing.  But I feel sure that I will finish it as I am truly interested in so many of the ideas put forth.  Last night I paused long enough to add a blog post to my main blog about the author's information about some of the caves that have been painted on in France.  The experts believe that some of the caves have paintings from at least two entirely different time periods.  And I remember in the Auel book called the Painted Caves, the people in the time period of the book were beginning to paint in caves that already had paintings on the wall.  These paintings were so ancient even in this time of the last ice age that the artist or artists were unknown to the characters in the book.

One of the most surprising statements in Before the Dawn is that all of the people who now live other places besides Africa are descendants of a very small group of humans who left Africa (I can't do the date from memory...I'll try to look this up and add later) in one small group.  The first place that they settled was India.  They were hunter/gatherers, so they probably moved to India slowly as they followed the game.  Making sure that each move had fresh water, game, vegetation.  From there some moved East and some West.  There is DNA evidence that even the indigenous people as far south in South America as south Chile have a connection to this very small group of adventurers.  The people who came across the continent that existed between Asia and Alaska came in three groups.  All of them are the ancestors of our Indians as well as those indigenous people of South and Central America.  The last group to come across are the ancestors of the Alaskan indigenous people.

The author also explains that they were entirely different from the Neanderthals and it would seem that the Neanderthal people disappeared .....perhaps from having been destroyed by the new more modern men and women who moved into their territories.

Tonight I am reading chapter 11 out of 12 chapters.  There are many ideas that I want to put down from this chapter.  It is a particularly interesting chapter to me.  One is that "DNA faithfully records who slept with whom through the ages."  Even before recorded history.

These ideas are not necessarily in the order that they were presented in the book.  I finished the book and am now going back filling in some of the ideas that I wasn't quick enough to put down while reading it.   Nicholas Wade gave a very good accounting of Thomas Jefferson's family with Sally Hemmings and how DNA has proved that while it isn't certain that Thomas Jefferson fathered all of Sally's children, it certainly "shores up"the written information that was provided about this family.

There is interesting information about  the genetic story of Great Britain.  There are so many ideas that I want to capture here that it may take me a few nights to get all of them.  They will not be in order as I will go back to write down some of the ideas that I have already heard.  However, the idea that "got me out of my seat on the porch" is that British text books have intimated that the Celts were dispersed to Wales and Scotland....the hinterlands with the invasions of others over the centuries.  A survey of y Chromosomes in Britain show that a large proportion of British do indeed carry yChromosomes that are attributed to the Celtic tribes.  Nowhere does the indigenous population seem to have been wiped out entirely by the invaders that came later.   The genetic material that is attributed to the Celts is known as yChromo Atlantic Modal Haplotype.  This genetic material is also found in the Basque area of Spain.  This same genetic material is particularly common in Castleway (perhaps I heard this wrong and he said Cashel? or something else...but I would guess way on the interior of Ireland) in Ireland in an area that was reached over the centuries by no invaders.  The commonality of the Basque and Irish haplotype would suggest the idea that this haplotype is that of the original hunter/gatherers who took refuge in Spain during the last ice age moved north as the glaciers melted at the end of the ice age.  Some may have used boats to travel up to the British Isles.   These ideas were very complicated.  One needs to read it for oneself to really understand.  But I think that what I heard says that the scientists feel that the Celtic civilization may have been brought into the area to the hunter/gatherers who were living there.  So that this Atlantic Modal Haplotype is not exactly that of the Celts, but of the original inhabitants who adopted the Celtic ways.  Kind of like which came first the chicken or the egg....

So this morning I got up and thought....hmmmm wonder if any of my participants carry this genetic material?  My quick research on the subject revealed that this haplotype is associated with the R1b haplotype group.  FTDNA does not seem to use this designation any more.  When I checked Jack's haplotype it is said to be R-M269.  But when I looked at this, this is a Subclade (not sure my terminology is correct?) of R1b.  And, quick look ups tell me that Jim Morrison also shares this group as well as my dad.....VERY INTERESTING!

And another confusing and puzzling fact is that the mt DNA seems to match that of the northern Europe rather .....guess I need to reread this information...but I think that I quit for the day.

There is interesting information about Iceland.

His information about Brian Sykes study is also interesting.  Brian found that all of the Sykes men that he tested fell into one of two groups:  those whose y chromosome matched and those who did not match.  The ones who did not match had a miscellany of unrelated y chromosomes.  The surname had been assigned only once.  There was exactly one y chromosome that matched with the Sykes surname.  The first Mr. Sykes lived in the 13th C.  That is the time in which surnames were assigned. His summary is very good.

In the next to last chapter, the author talks about the beginnings of cities.  The first city was in what is now Iraq and the author names that as Uruk (when I looked at the internet, there seems to be some controversy about what was the first city).  This city sprang up as early as 6000 years ago.  It is very interesting to see that in that time frame Uruk would have been on the shores of the Persian Gulf:

And the fact that as the hunter/gatherers became city dwellers, they had to develop skills to live in this new way.  It took armies of men to feed the city dwellers and to build the buildings etc.  The date that caused me to add this to the blog post is that this author says that writing became a part of human skills in 3400BC.  As Nicholas Wade says in the book:  "the next phase of the human experiment had begun"

1227 was the year that Genghis Khan died.  He is buried in northeast Mongolia from where he began his life.   No one has found his tomb.  However, geneticists have discovered an amazing fact about the legacy that Genghis left in the Asian world.   Geneticists have analyzed the y Chromosomes of  some 2000 men in Asia.  Of these 100 men it was found that many carried identical y chromosomes and others were only one step away from that match.  This  y chromosome was particularly found in Mongolia.  A fourth of the men in the area of Mongolia  carry this y-chromosome.  There is more information in this chapter about how these geneticists came to the conclusion that this y-Chromosome can be directly attributed to Genghis and his descendants.  But I will explain one more clue.  There are  only 16 groups of Asians who carry this specific y Chromosome.  The y Chromosome is not found outside of these 16 groups...but all of these 16 live within the area that was conquered by Genghis Khan except for one group who were a part of his army.  This must be the y chromosome of the royal  house of Genghis.   Mongol soldiers doubtless raped many females as they conquered.  However, a more important reason seems to be that it seems to have been a deliberate policy of Genghis and his sons to father as many sons as possible.  Genghis Khan had as many as 500 wives and concubines according to a very early historian.   One of his sons is credited with 40 sons.  One historian says that it is pretty easy to know what these men were doing when they were not fighting.  A history written in AD1260  says that there are more than 20,000 descendants of Genghis.  One study says that an astonishing 8% of males which is 16,000,000 men  carry the genes of Genghis Khan in our world today.  ( I am not sure that I got this right:  that would be men 0.5% of the world today)  There is another study of an Asian conqueror in this book that I am not going to try to capture.

There is also information about Jewish people who have intermarried among themselves for generations.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Sand and Ash

I started From Sand and Ash tonight.  I like it a lot so far!  It starts with a priest trying to make it to safety.....that is not accurate.  He is trying to make it to a religious sanctuary that he knows.

And then the story goes to his childhood.  He is born in the US, but goes back to Italy to the home of his grandparents.  So.....I am listening to the conversation of two children both of whom have lost their mothers.  And he describes his mother as soft.  He says that his grandmother is trying to give him love....but his mother WAS love.  Hmmmmm....I do understand.

I finished the book last night.  It was a good book in spite of the fact that it was a bit of a romance.  Just a bit too much physical passion and the ending was a bit contrived.  Typical of a romance novel.  But the very good story line helped me overlook the fact that the romance genre is not my favorite.  It was a good story.  It is about the love between a Roman Catholic Priest and a Jewish woman.  It takes place during WWII when the young priest promises the father of the Jewish woman that he will protect her no matter what.  And he does.

I read it via audible.  I think that it was a good addition to my WWII books.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Irena's Children

In anticipation of attending the reading group's next meeting, I decided to read Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo as my next audible selection.  I have decided that instead of reviewing one book of my choice, I will comment on the fact that I have been on a WWII jag in 2017.  I was never a huge fan of this historical fiction subject.  But I read City of Women first .....what was happening in Berlin during this time period...then the Nightingale which told a story of what was happening in France in this time period.....then the Women of the Castle which was about life in Germany as the war broke out and as it ended....and then Under a Scarlet Sky which was about what was happening in Italy during the German Occupation.  This new book is about Poland from what I have read.

The Secret Wife

Gill Paul's book, the Secret Wife, is very entertaining.  It is a "what if" book based on real people who are documented as having lived at one time.  The story is told from the point of view of the great-granddaughter of Dmitri and in alternating chapters from the point of views of Dmitri himself many years earlier.

It is at the same time another story of the possibility that one of the Russian Romanov family members might have escaped death at the time the massacre the was ordered by the upcoming communist regime occurred.  This time it was not daughter, Anastasia, but an older daughter of Czar Nicholas, Tatiana.

I always like when the book ends with historical notes explaining that some things are proven true while the rest of the story is pure imagination.  And the author does do this for this book.  Apparently there are actual documents with information that Tatiana and Dmitri did indeed know each other during the time in which Dmitri was hospitalized for his leg wound.  And also documenting the fact that he gave Tatiana a dog as a gift.  But it is likely that both died in the early 1900s and that the rest of the story is a product of the author's imagination.  I was quite entertained.....If you are looking for a light read that moves quickly and does give one a bit of felling for an era, I recommend The Secret Wife.  I read the book via audible.