Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brian Reviews "All Quiet on the Western Front" on Suite 101!

OK "Today in History" readers (again I stipulate: to the hitherto unknown extent that you actually exist) - this is the last of these "Go and read me somewhere ELSE"
postings for awhile. "Suite 101" requires one to write 10 articles every 3 months. Well it was getting down to the end of my initial three month enlistment to that group, and I needed to get in my 8th, 9th and 10th articles fast! So I went back to three book reviews which I had written for Dr. Arnold Schreier's European History course when I attended the University of Cincinnati waaaaaaaay back in the early
1980's, and for which the good doctor had given me high marks. And I slightly recycled them for Suite 101. Rest assured, they were all essays written by ME, for books which I did indeed READ. But they were available, and required less work RIGHT NOW than I would have had to do for three original articles.
SO - without further adieu :

Book Review: "All Quiet on the Western Front".
Erich Maria Remarque's Harrowing Story of Trench Warfare.
Jan 27, 2010 Brian T. Bolten

The young private, Paul Baumer must endure the hardships, privations and the daily terror of combat during the age of trench warfare. We look at his story of survival.

It could be said of World War One that it was the most shattering event in history. The word "shattering" would be singularly appropriate for a number of reasons. First, the world order as it was at the conflicts outset, was shattered and forever lost. Three imperial dynasties - the Hapsburgs in Austria, the Hohenzollerns in Germany, and the Romanovs in Russia were swept away from history's pages for good. The Austro-Hungarian empire itself, wherein the war had begun was wiped off the map, becoming several countries, with one - Yugoslavia - seething with ethnic resentments that were destined to spill over into the "ethnic cleansing" and mass rapes of the late 20th Century. Second is the way in which this war shattered the lives of the young men who fought in it. An entire generation of young men was lost in the totally senseless slaughter of the trenches. And those who survived were forever changed by the horrors they had witnessed. It is this human element - clearly the most far reaching in its effect - which forms the central focus of Erich Maria Remarque's novel "All Quiet on the Western Front".

Read more at Suite101: Book Review: "All Quiet on the Western Front".: Erich Maria Remarque's Harrowing Story of Trench Warfare.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Today in History" readers (again if there are any of you out there)!!!
Brian has a review of Balzac's "Old Goriot" on Suite 101 =

Honore de Balzac leads us on a gritty and unflinching look at the manners and morals of the caste system of 19th Century France, and pulls no punches.

"The chariot of civilization, like the chariot of Juggernaut is scarcely halted by a heart less easily crushed by others in it's path. It soon breaks this hinderence to its wheel, and continues its triumphant course."

It is with this sombre reflection that Honore de Balzac begins his heart rending tragedy "Old Goriot". The post-Napoleonic Paris in which Balzac lived still had many of the traits of the more aristocratic days before the revolution which swept away Louis XVI. To be sure, the Three Estates no longer formally existed, but there was nevertheless a very rigid caste system still in place and very much in force. Everyone had their place. And social standing was of paramount importance in this world of grand balls, and luxurious salons, and the people who moved through them were judged accordingly, the revolution notwithstanding. If one was not a dignified member of the upper class, one was quite worthless, reguardless of who one was. One's life or death, one's happiness or lack of it were of no consequence. A man like the "Old Goriot" of the novel's title can whither away, and the Chariot of Juggernaut of which Balzac speaks will move pitilessly on its way noticing very little and caring even less.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brian Reviews Voltaire's "Candide" on Suite101!

In "Candide", Voltaire takes the reader along with the young, kind-hearted character of the novel's name, who after being unceremoniously kicked out of the Westphalian estate in which he lives, travels all around Europe and part of America in search of the lady Cunegonde, a beautiful young 17 year old who has captured his heart. While telling Candide's story in a witty, almost bantering style, Voltaire engages in a merciless assault upon the conventions of his world, but in a way that leaves the reader at once amused, shocked, and entertained.

Read more at Suite101: Voltaire's "Candide": The Philisophe Presents His View of the World of the 18th Century =

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Young Victoria" & Downey's Holmes: Brian on "Suite 101"

Dear readers and followers of "Today in History" (to the extent that you are out there.... I really don't know if anyone is reading this or not!),

I have been taken up the last few days with writing articles for "" and I have two new ones!! You have heard of Robert Downey Jr.'s "Sherlock Holmes"? A rather modern day action-hero take on the great sleuth! Well I compare this new 2009version of Downey's with the 1970 version directed by Billy Wilder. Give it a good

Also, I have an article about the new film "Young Victoria" which chronicles the early years of Victoria, and those of her reign. It is a fine movie in my (humble)
estimation, but how closely does it follow the historical record? This I discuss in considerable detail at:

Her Most Gracious and Britannic Majesty, Victoria Regina Imperatum, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas, Empress of India, awaits your attendance. We are NOT amused!!

I shall return to "Today in History" soon!!!

- B. T. Bolten