August, 1945

Sixty-three years ago this week, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The enormity of the event, the inhuman scale of both this power and its consequences, is nearly impossible to communicate. How can one understand the power of a thousand suns unleashed upon whole cities? It became one of the defining stories for generations in every nation, the stuff of myth and legend come to trouble our real urban lives. When the bombs were dropped, at the end of World War II, my mother was twelve years old; when I was twelve, it was common knowledge among my Chicago peers that were were targeted to go out in a mushroom cloud, courtesy of the Soviet Union. My high school girlfriend had nightmares of invading armies, though she personally had never experienced any sort of war. (She had to walk out on the post-nuke invasion scenes of Red Dawn, though somehow War Games was fun.) The stories and imagery of WW II have been invoked and remixed and spun to death, and still they are important. How do we put all these pieces together, and how can we get the story straight?

So far, we’ve introduced WWII to our children with stories found here and there: The Sound of Music, from their mother’s love of musicals, Anne of Green Gables, from her love of strong redheads, Twenty and Ten from the fantastic Sonlight Curriculum, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel of the Holocaust, Maus: A Survivors Tale when our son found it in our church library, Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War which we found at Butterfly Books, and Baseball Saved Us from the Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.

This is not yet a curriculum, just a collection of stories. But they paint a landscape of history, stories to be remembered, referred to, examined, and criticized; part of the tapestry of their lives. And when the time for a more formal curriculum comes, it will have a foundation to stand on.

Before we’re done, I expect to share with them the documentary, Trinity and Beyond, Keiji Nakazawa’s harrowing answer to Spiegelman, Barefoot Gen, and Hersey’s classic Hiroshima, along with other things we find or that you, dear reader, suggest.

But first, I think we’ll start here, with a new book, first of a series, from Ellen Klages:

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The Green Glass Sea
by Ellen Klages
Puffin 2008-05-01
Average Amazon Review star
starCourtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club.com
starloved it
starGood read for most thinking persons
starOverall good reading
starThe Green Glass Sea

The Friendship of Girls, the Fate of the World

Two girls sort out their places in the world as they follow their families to live in a town that doesn’t officially exist: Los Alamos, California, in the days leading up to Trinity, the first ever test of a nuclear weapon, on July 16, 1945. A deep story of friendship, loss, and finding your home, in a world of awesome forces.

Today they had chosen to sit against the west wall of the commissary for their picnic lunch. It offered a little bit of shade, they could look out at the Pond, and it was three minutes from Papa’s office, which meant they could spend almost the whole hour reading together.

“Dews?” Papa said a few minutes later. “Remember the other night when we were talking about how much math and music are related?”

Dewey nodded.

“Well, there was a quote I couldn’t quite recall, and I just found it. Listen.” He began to read, very slowly. ” `Music is the hidden arithmetic of the soul, which does not know that it deals with numbers. Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.’ That’s exactly what I was talking about.”

“Who said it?” Dewey asked.

Read the full excerpt at the author’s site, EllenKlages.com.

hReview by CircleReader , stars2008/08/07

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