Book Review: Keeping the Lights on for Ike by Rebecca Daniels

Keeping the Lights On for Ike by Rebecca Daniels

Publisher:  Sunbury Press, February 2019
Category: Memoir, History, Military, WWII, and Biography

ISBN:  978-1620061145
Available in Print and ebook, 284 pages

Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You’re Not Allowed to Write about the War

Most people don’t realize that during the war in Europe in the 1940s, it took an average of six support soldiers to make the work of four combat soldiers possible. Most of what’s available in the literature tends toward combat narratives, and yet the support soldiers had complex and unique experiences as well. This book is based on personal correspondence, and it is primarily a memoir that creates a picture of the day-to-day realities of an individual soldier told in his own words [as much as he could tell under the wartime rules of censorship, that is] as well as giving insight into what it was actually like to be an American soldier during WWII.

It explores the experiences of a non-combat Army utilities engineer working in a combat zone during the war in Europe and takes the protagonist from basic training through various overseas assignments—in this case to England, North Africa, and Italy as a support soldier under Eisenhower and his successors at Allied Force Headquarters. It also includes some reflections about his life after returning to Oregon when the war was over.

The soldier involved is Captain Harold Alec Daniels [OSU, Class of 1939, ROTC] and most of the letters were written to his wife, Mary Daniels [attended U of O in the late 1930s]. They are the author’s parents, and she inherited the letter collection, photos, and all other primary source materials after her mother’s death in 2006.

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Guest Review by Laura Lee

The author of this book, Rebecca Daniels dedicated it to both of her parents and I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to two people who led such extraordinary lives.
In the 1930’s, two people, a man and a woman lived in the same town and attended the same high school without ever meeting each other. The two did not meet until college, when Alec, a reserved and quiet engineering student and Mary, a journalism major who longed to be a mother one day, were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend.

But, of course, every good story has to have a little heartbreak, and shortly after the pair were married, the United States entered World War II. Like so many men during that time, Alec was drafted into the war. But, rather than being sent to the front lines, he was sent to a position in a support troop. Being an electrical engineer and a member of the ROTC meant that Alec had a special set of skills that were best used in one of the many troops that provided support to the combat soldiers on the front lines of the war.

These troops covered things like administrative, logistical and infrastructure duties that made it so the soldiers in the trenches had an easier time staying alive. It’s a seldom talked about aspect of the war effort, and one that Rebecca Daniels covers beautifully not just from the perspective of a daughter but, through the usage of letters and cards between her parents from that time, from the perspective of Alec himself. Though Alec was not able to discuss much about his whereabouts or his work in the letters that he sent home to his new wife, his love for Mary was clear and it is through these letters that the narrative gains a very sweet and humanizing element.

I highly recommend this incredibly touching read! You can’t go wrong with this one! I give it 5 stars, more if I could.

Praise for Keeping the Lights on for Ike

“The book moves swiftly along, while at the same time capturing the frustration of their prolonged separation. The historical timeline provides just the right bit of historical context to these war years behind at the tail of the army. This is not the typical WWII combat book.”- The Montague Reporter

“The lack of military detail — the focus on everyday life and on the relationship between Alec and Mary — ends up being one of the book’s greatest assets. Many works of history detail the story of great battles. Fewer dwell on individual wartime experiences.  The book is also strengthened by the affection expressed in Alec’s relatively inarticulate yet moving letters to his wife on the home front.”- Tinky Weisblat, Greenfield Recorder, author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb”

“Carefully researched history and a beautiful remembrance of one soldier’s letters home. A poignant and personal look into the lives of two very private people and an extraordinary first hand example of why it’s called the Greatest Generation. In detail and in truly first class research one is left with the sense that they know these two people very well. Not only is this a well written historical account of World War II, it is a touching and gentle love story from a remarkable author with a most deft touch and turn. Got five stars from me. So worth it.”-W. Richards, Amazon

“This book made me feel almost like I was right there with Alec and Mary as they experienced that time of their lives. My parents, being the same age, also had a similar experience and I thought of them as I read every word. The author cleverly brought to life their story and for that I shall be forever grateful.”- Sunbury Press Reader Review

About the Author

Rebecca Daniels has been a university professor for many years who has also simultaneously had a vital creative career in the theatre. Throughout her career, her work has always been a mix of performance, teaching, and her own writing.

Her groundbreaking book on women directors and the effects of gender on their work is currently still in print [Women Stage Directors Speak: Exploring the Effects of Gender on Their Work, McFarland, 1996], and she has been published in several theatre-related professional journals over the years as well. After her retirement in the summer of 2015, she was finally able to focus all her energies on this book.

Website:  https://rebecca-daniels.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.daniels.9

Giveaway

This giveaway is for 1 print copy open to Canada and the U.S. only. There are also 2 pdf copies open worldwide. There will be 3 winners. This giveaway ends August 1, 2020,midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Book Review & Giveaway: Surviving the Fatherland by Annette Oppenlander

 

Historical Fiction

Date Published: March 15, 2017

Publisher: Oppenlander Enterprises LLC

***An IWIC Hall of Fame Novel***

***Winner 2017 National Indie Excellence Award***

“This book needs to join the ranks of the classic survivor stories of WWII such as “Diary of Anne Frank” and “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It is truly that amazing!” InD’taleMagazine

“This family saga is wonderfully written and, aside from the emotional ramifications, very easy to read. I stayed up too late a couple of nights reading it…I highly recommend this book!” Long and Short Reviews

Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953 and set against the epic panorama of WWII, author Annette Oppenlander’s SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children’s war.

SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their own dangerous path toward survival, freedom, and ultimately each other. Based on the author’s own family and anchored in historical facts, this story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of war children. 

When her father goes off to war, seven-year-old Lilly is left with an unkind mother who favors her brother and chooses to ignore the lecherous pedophile next door. A few blocks away, twelve-year-old Günter also loses his father to the draft and quickly takes charge of supplementing his family’s ever-dwindling rations by any means necessary.

As the war escalates and bombs begin to rain, Lilly and Günter’s lives spiral out of control. Every day is a fight for survival. On a quest for firewood, Lilly encounters a dying soldier and steals her father’s last suit to help the man escape. Barely sixteen, Günter ignores his draft call and embarks as a fugitive on a harrowing 47-day ordeal–always just one step away from execution.

When at last the war ends, Günter grapples with his brother’s severe PTSD and the fact that none of his classmates survived. Welcoming denazification, Lilly takes a desperate step to rid herself once and for all of her disgusting neighbor’s grip. When Lilly and Günter meet in 1949, their love affair is like any other. Or so it seems. But old wounds and secrets have a way of rising to the surface once more.

Purchase Links

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Based on the true story of two children growing up in Nazi Germany, Surviving the Fatherland is historical fiction at its best. To see the effects of this war from a German child’s view is a perspective I haven’t read before.

It’s difficult to read parts of this book knowing that these things actually happened. The innocent Germans who just tried to survive are usually forgotten when talking about World War II. What German families had to endure under Hitler’s regime and afterward is unthinkable and it’s hard to think about the fact that it wasn’t that long ago. 

Annette Oppenlander does such a good job at describing what Lilly and Günter go through that I felt like I was sitting there listening to their stories first-hand.

Surviving the Fatherland is a story of courage, love, and hope during a time of war and rebuilding. Knowing that it’s based on the lives of the author’s parents makes it even more compelling.

 

About the Author

Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past. Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, was elected to IWIC’s Hall of Fame and won the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. Her historical time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, takes readers to the German Middle Ages and the Wild West. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story. Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she lives with her husband and old mutt, Mocha, in Bloomington, Ind.

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.annetteoppenlander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annetteoppenlanderauthor

Twitter: https://twitter/aoppenlander

Blog: http://www.annetteoppenlander.com/blog

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/annoppenlander/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34388334-surviving-the-fatherland?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Giveaway

Two autographed copies of ‘Surviving the Fatherland’

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