Until reading this book, I had never heard of the Lattimer Massacre. On September 10, 1897, about 300-400 coal miners (mostly immigrants) protested against unfair wages and treatment. 19 miners died, and several other were injured.
Approximately one million Irishmen died of starvation after a potato disease killed Ireland’s large potato crop. Another million immigrated to America, and this is one of those stories.
Growing up proper Southern in Mississippi, 13 year-old Hannah’s life is changed from these events and more. As she moves up north with her family, her views began to slowly change as she matures over the course of the American Civil War.
The Newsie Strike – July-August 1899
The Journal of Finn Reardon: a Newsie by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
You may have heard of the Newsie strike thanks to the Christian Bale movie. Ironically, a few of the characters in the Disney movie were real; except the main characters. Kid Blink (with the eyepatch) and Racetrack (who sang “King of New York” were two real people.
In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, newspaper costs increased. The newsies had to buy the papers for 60 cents instead of 50 cents. They would sell the newspapers for one cent each, originally making 50 cents. After the war, all the newspapers lowered their prices; except the New York World and the New York Morning Journal.
The REAL Newsie strike was from July 20th to August 2 and the leader was Kid Blink. Although the movie shows the strike as a huge success, it actually was a partial failure. The only thing that changed was both papers agreed to buy back any unsold papers the newsies had.
The Journal of Finn Reardon is part of the series My Name is America. My Name is America is the “boy” version of the “girl” series Dear America. Although Finn Reardon is fictional, many characters in the book are real.
I had heard of Jewish persecution in Russia, but I never really realized how bad it was until I read Sworn Enemies. The Russian government was kidnapping young Jewish boys (as young as age 8) for the Russian army. Ultimately, the goal was forced conversion to Christianity.
SPOILER: I found this ending really incomplete, as Aaron and Zev still hate each other as the final pages close.
During and after WWI, 1.5 million Armenians and Greeks were senselessly murdered. In this memoir told by her daughter Thea, Sano describes life as a little girl growing up in Turkey and facing horrible persecution. At age fifteen, Sano is brought to America and continues her everyday struggles, including marrying a 40-something year-old man. I really enjoyed this memoir, but it was very heart-breaking to read at times. It was well-written and kept me intrigued.
This is probably the least-known event I’m featuring. The stories that came out of WWII never cease to amaze me. Some stories are bizarre beyond bizarre (like the cat who survived the sinking of three different ships) and some just show everyday men with an insane amount of courage (The Great Escape, Escape From Sobibor). This is one of those stories.
If you are interested, there is an amazing documentary (I was one of the lucky few who watched it on the Military Channel in November!) called The Lost Airmen of Buchenwald.
The biggest medical relief in history – April 1945
Remembering Belsen by Ben Flanagan
The liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is known as the biggest medical relief in history. Being said, all material on this subject is VERY graphic, but the liberation of Belsen is an AMAZING story. Out of all of the resources, I am featuring Remembering Belsen because it is written primarily through stories of survivors and liberators; the entire book is filled with testimonies, not words from the author.
Recommended for ages 13+.
Other great books about the subject include: (I have read all)
Letters From Belsen 1945 by Muriel Knox Doherty
The Survivors: The Story of the Belsen Remnant by Leslie Hardman
After Daybreak by Ben Shepherd
Straight On by Robert Collis
The pacifists had the bizarre jobs (like working in asylums – a whole other story) of the war that nobody really wanted. Voluntarily starving yourself to death for an experiment was one of those bizarre jobs.
This tells the bizarre/fascinating WWII story of 36 pacifist men who volunteered for a starvation experiment. The experiment tested refeeding, the effects of starvation, and rehabilitating starvation victims in war-torn Europe.
Anyone who’s read this or knows more about it: Let me know what you think.