Monday, May 24, 2010

History: Story Behind The Longest Day

Back in December last year I helped out at an exhibit held to celebrate International Day for People with Disabilities. I helped Lene set up her photos and had a nice time (except for some particularly bad singing during one of the presentations...).

As Lene points out we set up her photographs on the assigned table using a variety of hardcovers quickly purchased from the gift shop at Variety Village where the event was held. The books worked well as makeshift tripods and at the end of the day I returned them to the gift shop to be resold to someone else.

Yes. I returned the books.

I have lots of books as it is and I'm going to be behind on my reading even if I read non-stop for the rest of my days. I'm not a recovering bibliophile - I still collect and organize and covet books but these were just bought to be used as tripods.

Well... I lied a little. I didn't give back one of the books I bought. I kept The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan. I'd seen the movie repeatedly but I'd also heard good things about the book. So I didn't return it and I decided to give that copy a good home.

The book is amazing. Filled with specific details, grand overviews, lots of detailed recollections, and all written in an engaging style that makes the book hard to put down. As a collection of stories and memoirs of D-Day it is an achievement.

Just how much of an achievement it was and how profoundly it changed the landscape of memoirs, history, and journalism is the subject of a piece by Michael Shapiro in the Columbia Journalism Review. The Reporter Who Time Forgot is a biography of a book and its writer. A book that is a collection of memoirs and stories. Both the article and the book are great reads and I highly recommend them.

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