Hide & Seek is BBC journalist Stephen Walker’s re-telling of the cat-and-mouse antics and escapades of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty and the SS and Gestapo head Herbert Kappler, during 1940s wartime Rome. It apparently is a little-known story, and this is Stephen Walker’s effort to right that by giving this story its deserved place in the annals of World War II history.
Monsignor O’Flaherty was an Irish priest assigned to the Vatican, who set up and operated an escape route for Allied POWs and opponents of the Germans, using Vatican City as his base of operations. I have no trouble at all believing that the Monsignor was an incredible character, and his efforts undoubtedly saved many thousands of people, and therefore this story is indeed a story worth telling. The problem with this book unfortunately, is how the story is told.
Virtually You – The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality, by Elias Aboujaoude MD, is a timely and much-needed look at how the omnipresent Internet is effecting the personality, behavior, and indeed the life, of the multitudes who interact with it. Elias is a psychiatrist and specialist in Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and Impulse Control Disorders, and makes an excellent case in this book for a new psychiatric condition, namely, Internet Addiction.
To be clear though, this book is not a thesis on this proposed condition, it is so much more than that – it is built on insightful and very original thinking, and quite shockingly exposes the effects that the Internet is having on people from all walks of life. This book is a real metaphorical eye-opener, but despite this, it is not alarmist at all, and the author comes across as very reasonable throughout. The author is not some old foggy trying to flog his fire-and-brimstone prophecies of a wicked “interweb” technology on us, but rather a very Internet-savvy guy, with a truly impressive grasp and understanding of the essence and nature of the Web, and this coupled with his obvious knowledge of psychiatry and the human mind, makes it impossible to dismiss him.
The Musicians of Auschwitz is Fania Fenelon’s autobiographical account of her life and experience in the Birkenau concentration camp, which was the female “camp” in Auschwitz, and later of her time in the Bergen Belsen camp. This book was written thirty years after she gained her freedom, on the 15th April, 1945. The account is quite extraordinary, as it is really a dual autobiography – that of “die kleine Sängerin” Fania, and also the “autobiography”, if you will, of the life and existence of the orchestra of camp inmates she played and sang in.
This book also gives a terrifying insider’s view of the humanity and inhumanity, and of life and death, inside these concentration camps. The book is extremely well written in its own right, and Fania was assisted in the writing of it by Marcelle Routier. Hers is a nightmare tale of deprivation, starvation, cruelty and insanity but also of hope.