Dawn of All

Book cover: 'Dawn of All'
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson

This book, together with its counterpart Lord of the World, is an early venture into the "speculative" genre of fiction. Written in 1911, it could be considered early science fiction with its descriptions of future technology, but it is really much more a religious and philosophical exploration of the effects of belief systems on society.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Book cover: 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien'
Humphrey Carpenter (ed.)

This book is not a "must read", but it is an enlightening read (best for high school and up). I have not read any other compilation of letters like this, so even the concept was new to me. There isn't a format, a thesis or an argument to unify the book. Rather, it is the life, work and times of Tolkien which generate the letters. He writes to his wife, his children, fans of his work, his publishers and various friends. The book is a subset of his letters (edited with the help of his son Christopher).

J.R.R. Tolkien

Book cover: 'J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created the Lord of the Rings'
Michael Coren

This is a surprisingly good, very readable biography of one of the most popular authors of all time. J.R.R. Tolkien was born in South Africa, the son of an English banker. After her return to England and the death of her husband, Tolkien's mother, Mabel, converted to Catholicism. Shunned by relatives after this, she was assisted by a kind parish priest who took care of her two sons after she died at age 34.

The Journal of Ben Uchida

Book cover: 'The Journal of Ben Uchida'
Barry Denenberg

This is a fictitious diary of a 12 year old boy in a Japanese internment camp in California during World War II. (The diary covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7 1941 thru parts of 1943). The diary is based on letters from Internment camp survivors and other actual events from the time period.

The story helps the reader to understand certain truths about the camps and the consequences of having such camps;


This classic movie with an all-star cast and real war footage presents the dramatic story of one of the most significant battles of World War II - the naval battle of Midway in June 1942. The story also deals, more briefly, with the backlash against Americans of Japanese descent. A good movie and important story, but language and battle-scenes make it most appropriate for teens and adults.

Saving Private Ryan

Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, et al.

Schindler's List

This is a remarkable movie and the heart of the story is very beautiful. Two stories are intertwined. The first is simply the story of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis during World War II. The second is the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, determined to profit from the war by hiring Jews as cheap laborers. He is a womanizer, living the high life through in spite of the suffering around him.

Life is Beautiful

This serves as a tamer, but every-bit-as-powerful, version of Schindler's List (at least in-so-far as it portrays the reality of the Nazi concentration camps and the hopelessness and unfairness suffered by its prisoners). Perhaps because this is a "fable" rather than biography, it manages to portray the awfulness of war in a more subtle way - without all the gore and through the eyes of a child. It's still quite intense, though, and would only be suitable for teens and adults.

Bright Candles

Nathaniel Benchly

Bright Candles is a fictional book about a 16 year old Danish resistance worker in World War II. This book shows the trauma of living in occupied Denmark through the eyes of a teenaged boy. As you read this, you will find out about the courage and bravery of the resistance, and how the Danes fought to help keep their country free. My mom and I both read this book and really liked it (so it has a teenager and an adult 'seal of approval'). The only part I didn't like was the fact that there is some mild swearing in it.

The Shadow of His Wings

Book cover: 'The Shadow of His Wings'
Fr. Gereon Goldmann

This is a fascinating tale on many levels - spiritual, historical, adventure, humor. Fr. Goldmann was a young seminarian in Germany when he was drafted into Hitler's dreaded SS. Despite amazing obstacles and in spite of his loud mouth and rather hot temper with regard to his disagreements with the Nazi's, Goldmann works his way through World War II as a medic for the German army and is finally ordained as a chaplain to his comrades in the French prison camps in North Africa.


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