nightbird: foggy b&w photo of receding telephone wires (roads)
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First, some retro tattoos, and not retro the way you think, probably. I think she's my favorite.


Next, the aftermath of the Great War in England.
'The Great Silence'

"I think one of the reasons I felt a little impatient with the findings of emerging adulthood was I was simultaneously reading Juliet Nicolson's wonderful book The Great Silence," Brown confesses. That book — subtitled Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age — is a social history examining England in the years following World War I.

Brown explains that its title refers to the two-minute silence observed since the first Armistice Day, marking the cessation of hostilities on Nov. 11, 1918. "Everything in England stopped at one moment, and the war dead were remembered," she says.

In The Great Silence, Nicolson uses anecdotes, diaries and letters to create portraits of 35 people living in England after the armistice. Her characters range from "under-chauffeurs and below-stairs people" to "royalty, as well as famous writers and artists," Brown says. And in Brown's eyes, Nicolson's bottom-up approach to history is what makes her book so affecting.

"What we don't think about is the devastating trauma of what it was like when one in seven young men in England had died," she says. And certainly the incidents from Nicolson's book that Brown recounts are harrowing.

"She describes scenes like, for instance, riding the bus, and suddenly some woman would just break into wild tears as something had reminded her of her son, or her brother or somebody in her family," the editor says. "Or she would talk about men walking the streets of London wearing these strange, eerie tin masks because their faces had been shot away."

One surgeon, Howard Gillies — himself a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Great War — was so affected by the tin-masked men that he worked to develop a revolutionary plastic surgery technique. Nicolson devotes a chapter of her book to describing his work.

All of Brown's "survival" picks are about displaying character in the face of stress. Howard Schultz, for example, succeeded because of his uncommon audacity and vision. America's 20-somethings may be foundering because most of them "haven't really faced up to the stresses [that] people like Schultz are writing about yet," Brown says.

And the survivors of the conflict once called the War to End All Wars faced the ultimate test: trying to readjust after a horrific, unimaginable trauma. As Brown puts it: "You do have to admire these people who returned under such terrifying circumstances and simply had to pick up and carry on."
Music:: "Nothin'," Robert Plant & Allison Kraus
There are 4 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
posted by [personal profile] lilacsigil at 03:24am on 04/09/2010
We still observe that silence in Australia. Every town has a war memorial with the huge number of dead, especially from WWI - there was a policy to place all the young men from the same district in the same unit. With a casualty rate (missing and killed) of 2 in 3 overall, some districts lost every man they sent.
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (wayfaring stranger)
posted by [personal profile] nightbird at 03:28am on 04/09/2010
Those numbers will never stop being unbelievable. I think the only devastation comparable that we had was the Civil War, which is, well, more of a political prop these days than it should be. But thinking about those numbers, I can't even comprehend that kind of loss.
used_songs: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] used_songs at 12:08am on 20/09/2010
I heard that story on npr and made a mental note (I was driving) to read this book --- and promptly forgot. I'm glad you brought it back to mind.
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (we saved this one for you)
posted by [personal profile] nightbird at 06:03am on 20/09/2010
NPR in general makes me wish I owned a really awesome old radio. I am too forgetful to listen to it on the internet.



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