Tag Archives | World War 2

Natural Born Heroes | Christopher McDougall

The cover of McDougalls Natural Born HeroesNatural Born Heroes is three books in one. The first book tells the story of how the daring resistance movement on Crete kidnapped a German General and then disappeared. The second book is a study of the hero in Greek mythology, suggesting links between the Greek heroes and modern Cretans. The third book is an autobiographical glimpse into McDougall’s studies in endurance diets and fitness training.

I picked up Natural Born Heroes on the strength of McDougall’s first book, Born to Run. While Born to Run was an inspiring book that actually made me want to run more, his sophomore effort lost me. The World War II story was exciting, but in order to fit the other material in he had to draw it out to an unnatural length. His fascial fitness ideas were exciting, but ended up sounded like fringe science.

While the idea was interesting, the execution left me wishing I could have just read a complete history of the Cretan resistance or a scientific study of endurance training. Both subjects are well worth their own treatment!

McDougall, Christopher. Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

My Father’s Son | Farley Mowat

The cover of Mowat's My Father's SonWhile reading this book, Farley Mowat died. I felt cheated. This book is Farley’s edited collection of letters back and forth between him and his Father during his time in the Second World War. The letters are a testimony that life continues in the darkest circumstances.

When you read Angus Mowat’s letters to his young son Farley, you can see where he gets his trademark wit, irreverence, and (ironically, given his circumstances) rebellious nature. Angus was a veteran of the First World War, so father and son are able to connect on shared ground.

It was interesting to read Mowat’s Canadian perspective on the war. By all accounts, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (the “Hasty P”) along with the rest of Canada’s contribution were outstanding soldiers. It was infuriating to read how the Canadians were ordered to stand back after heavy fighting to let the Americans be the official people to take back Rome!

Also infuriating were the “zombies”—a special class of Canadians who were able to join the military while refusing overseas service. They wore the uniform without the risk.

This collection of letters is a window back to the dark days of the Second World War, as seen through the jaded eyes of a young man who would become a famous writer. When you consider Mowat’s massive written output, we were blessed to have him with us as long as we did.

—Farley Mowat, My Father’s Son: Memories of War and Peace (Toronto: Key Porter, 1992).

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