Countdown was a much-needed book in light of all of the cheese I have been reading. I listened to the book on cd and I am glad because they did a great job of it. Countdown is set in 1962 and contains a lot of newspaper clipping and quotes regarding everything that was going on during that time- the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc. If you don't know about Duck and Cover, you'll learn about it in Countdown. Franny is an eleven-year-old girl growing up with a pilot father, a shell-shocked uncle, an older sister, and a younger brother and all of the stress of coming-of-age during a time of turbulence. I love the way the book deals with crushes, friends and Communism all at once. She is crushing on the boy next door, worrying about The Bomb and loving Del Shannon. Well, really who DOESN'T love Runaway?
There are some harsh words written in here about my favorite president, Harry S Truman. The author writes about Truman's life and ends with discussing how Truman ignored correspondence from Ho Chi Minh. And then the author offers the horrible statistics, the casualties of the Vietnam War. Then the author concludes by saying, "The middle initial S in Harry S Truman's name stood for nothing." I was struck by this. I have often wondered what would have happened if Truman had not ignored the letters from Ho Chi Minh. But it is so easy to play Monday morning quarterback. We can't say that Truman stood for nothing because of his failure to answer Ho Chi Minh. It is a disappointment for sure. A black mark on Truman's record. But to discredit Truman's entire career because of this very poor error in judgement? I just think that is going too far.
Still that's one of the things that I loved about Countdown. The book really requires you to think and it also makes you want to learn more about this very frightening and complicated times and the complicated people who shaped history.
I love the website, which also includes a playlist of all of the many songs that are mentioned in the book. There's a lot to learn from Countdown...not just history, but also about friendships and growing up, as Franny and her best friend have a lot of issues in this book and if you remember anything about being a kid, man, it all rings painfully true. Excellent, excellent book.
What's Going On Here?
There are SO MANY wonderful book review blogs out there and I can't compete with them, that is for sure. So this is not a book review blog. This is just a way for me to organize what I have read so that I can be better at matching the right book to the right person. The blog title comes from the brilliant mind of the most talented woman who ever lived, Ms. Judy Garland. The full quote is, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else." That is what I hope to do here and in ever aspect of my life.