Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan, is a detailed account of the invasion of Normandy during World War II. Ryan, a war correspondent who also flew bombing missions in the Air Force, recreates the hours that preceded the invasion as well as the invasion itself. Through interviews of thousands of D-Day survivors, both Allied and German, maps, diaries, reports, message pads, casualty reports, letters and photographs. Ryan retells the personal stories, battles and losses of these men fighting for their beliefs. Many different accounts have been published about D-Day, however, Ryan's version was heavily researched and documented to not only include the important accurate battle facts but also the personal stories of survival.

Many personal acts are believed to have a direct impact on the outcome of the battle of Normandy. While waiting to attack, soldiers did not want to tempt fate. Soldiers intentionally lost money at cards, they became religious and they talked of their families. Despite being told that probably eighty-four percent of the soldiers would become casualties, commanders walked miles on broken ankles, soldiers raised flags in the middle of battles, men continued to fight as their friends lay dying around them. One soldier killed his enemy and then rummaged through his pockets to find personal information on the soldier. It was ironic that when asked, this soldier was going to mail personal belongings to the dead soldier's family. These acts reinforce that this was was personal and difficult on both sides.

1. Why do you think it was important for Ryan to tell of the personal stories of these soldiers?

2. Would you be able to kill someone in battle and send their belongings to the dead man's family as the soldier did in the story?

Private by Kate Brian

Reed Brennan, from the small town of Croton, Pennsylvania, grew up with poor parents and a could never see getting out of this very small town. Until she got a scholarship to the elite boarding school Easton Academy. This opened many doors for her to ivy league schools. When she meets the Billings Girls, who get top recommendations and have gone onto to be very powerful women, she knows that she must get into the house to receive all of the opportunities that she wants. She goes through a series of extensive tests to get in, some of them including theft, and it seems that there is not anything she will not do. On the side, she is seeing one of the most sought after guys on campus, a senior named Thomas Pearson. At the end of the book he goes missing and that leads into the other books. I can not really say any more without giving away the rest of the books.

1) If you were Reed and new that being in Billings would open all of the opportunities you needed to succeed would you go so far as to steal the answers to a test to get in?
2) Would you try to get into Billings if you went to Easton even if you knew what went on?

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

The book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose follows Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne division of the US army from their brutal training to taking Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and the German town of Berchtesgaden, the SS’s last haven, during World War II. The book starts out in Camp Toccoa, Georgia, a training camp for the US military, in the summer of 1942. Here the members of Easy were trained by the dreaded Captain Sobel, Easy’s Commanding Officer. This conditioning, which included training as a parachutist, was considered the hardest a military group had ever been put through at the time. The men in Easy felt, if they were being sent to war, it would be better to be with the best of the best rather than doing the bare minimum. After months of training, Easy was sent to Uppottery, England where they prepared for D-Day. When the day came to invade Normandy, Easy jumped behind enemy lines, secured the area and fought their way back to their allies on the beaches. Almost immediately after D-Day, Easy was sent into Holland and then into Bastogne, entering a battle known as the Battle of the Bulge. During this battle, Easy was surrounded by German forces for days without sufficient food, ammo or clothing in the coldest part of a northern European winter. After being liberated, Easy fought its way into Germany and became one of the first companies to find a German concentration camp. Then they were tasked with taking Berchtsgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The book ends with the men that are still alive in Easy slowly being shipped back to the States, ready to finally resume their lives and with thoughts of their lost brothers still floating in their minds.

1) The men in Easy chose harder training to be with the best of the best in the war, but had the hardest missions as a result. Would you rather have harder training and more dangerous missions, but have the peace of mind that knowing you're with the best of the best and that they have your back, or would you choose easier training and more safe missions but have to rely on allies that might not have your back?
2) How would you feel about being taken out of your normal life to fight in WWII? Would you see it as your duty as an American and serve without question, or would you feel that you were unjustly ripped out of your previous life to fight a meaningless war?

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, is a book based on the Wicked Witch of the West. This witch is commonly known from a story called The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz portrays the witch as evil and cruel, but is she? Maguire takes a new point of view on this witch and takes the reader through the life of Elphaba, also known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba was born an outsider. Different in the fact that her skin was green. She was not accepted by her peers and lived a hard childhood that pushed her over the edge and drove her to this evil state. She was a smart and misunderstood girl that was constantly picked on. This story shows how the good could be the bad and the bad could actually be good. The author is trying to show that everything is not how it appears and no one should judge a book by its cover. Elphaba tried to fit in but kept being pushed away. Eventually she could not take it anymore and sought out for revenge on everyone that judged her. Elphaba has been neglected as a child and has to take care of her disabled sister when they go off to school. Glinda, Elphaba's roommate, is popular beautiful and is considered a social butterfly. Quick to judge, Glinda does not want to be friends with Elphaba and makes fun of her constantly. At one point, they do become friends, but after a murder they witness, they go their separate ways. The nature of good and evil is tested in this book. Can you decide who is good and who is not?
1. If you were treated poorly, would you seek revenge on those who ridiculed you? Why?

2.Would you destroy someone else to become superior and well liked? Why?

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Dear John is about a guy named John who is in the army and he comes home to his father's house for 2 weeks from Germany. He meets a girl named Savannah after he gets her purse back when it is knocked off the pier. They start spending a lot of time together before they bpth have to leave and go back to college and the army. When John has to go back, they promise to write each other for the whole 12 months he is gone. Then he coes back home but tells her he has to go back because of 911. After a few years, Savannah writes him and tells him she got married and John is very upset. John comes back home after his father dies and meets with Savannah for dinner and he finds out that her husband is Tim who he met before and he has cancer and is dying. John sells his coin collection and gives the money to Savannah so they can buy a drug that will help Tim live a little while longer so he can say goodbye to everyone. Tim tells John to marry Savannah after he dies because he knows she still loves John. 1. Do you think John and Savannah's love story was believable since they "fell in love" in 2 weeks? 2.John goes back to Germany after his 2 week break and they promise each other they will get married when he comes back. Do you think it is possible to stay in love with someone you haven't seen in a few years?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green is a novel featured around three teenagers in a boarding school. Miles Halter is fascinated by people’s last words and goes to this boarding school in Alabama to search for his “Great Perhaps”. His roommate is Chip Martin who is nicknamed the Colonel due to his genius. Miles is called “Pudge” by the Colonel which is ironic due to his skinny and scrawny figure. Alaska is introduced to Miles by Colonel. Pudge instantly falls in love with her. She is beautiful and is rebellious. The Colonel and Alaska introduce Pudge to their mischievous behavior of drinking, partying, smoking, and playing pranks on campus. They pull a prank one day of war against the privileged kids in school, and after this they all hide out in a barn to play a drinking game. When they were playing this game, Alaska reveals a deep hidden secret that has been haunting her. When Alaska was 8, she watched her mother die of an aneurysm and to scared of what to do, she didn’t call for help. Right then, Pudge understood the real reason "And when she said she failed everyone, I knew whom she meant. It was the everything and the everyone of her life" (120). Alaska certainly blames herself for her mom’s death. While they are all drunk from playing this truth and dare game, Alaska falls asleep and is woken up by a phone call. She is severely distraught over this phone call and must go somewhere. Without thinking, Colonel and Pudge distract the dean so Alaska can leave. However, Alaska is very intoxicated when she leaves.

The next day, the dean announces Alaska has been killed in a car accident. Colonel and Pudge are deeply shocked and sad about their friend’s death. They are also angry they let it happen. Pudge admits to himself, "That night I let her go because she told me to. It was that simple for me and that stupid" (149). Pudge and the Colonel look to find the true cause of Alaska’s mystery death. Pudge and Colonel pull a last prank in her honor, and when they do, Pudge discovers something about his “ Great Perhaps” and the answer to end suffering in life.

1.Pudge and Alska have different meanings of escaping. Alaska symbolizes her view of ending suffering is going through death in a straight and fast way with the last words of Simón Bolívar: "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!" While Pudge thinks you must forgive to live and forget about regrets. Which one do you agree with and why?

2. Pudge is deeply fascinated by people's last words and what they say in their final moments reveals their true character. Do you agree? Explain.