Silent Honor by Danielle Steel

Oriental-looking gold characters on red backgroundDanielle Steel’s Silent Honor is a romance played out during one of the ugliest episodes of American history: the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Hiroko Takashimaya’s father, a Japanese college professor, sends his 18-year-old daughter to study for one year in California. Hiroko has no desire to do anything other than be a good wife and mother, but she is a dutiful daughter and will do as her father wishes.

Hiroko finds her American-born cousins are totally American. Her uncle, a Stanford University political science professor, and her aunt, a nurse, regard her Japanese habits as quaint as her kimonos. Only Peter Jenkins, Uncle Tak’s assistant, seems to value her Hiroko’s Japanese heritage.

When the family is sent to Tule Lake detention center, Peter visits every day. Inevitably, he and Hiroko become lovers. When he’s posted overseas, Hiroko is carrying his child.

Steel makes Hiroko’s homesickness and her dedication to fulfilling what she regards as her obligations to her father and her American relatives totally believable. However, she fails to make Hiroko’s misery at college and at the detention center more personal than an encyclopedia entry.

Steel’s readers and Japanese Americans deserve better treatment.

Silent Honor by Danielle Steel
Delacorte Press. ©1996. 353 p.
1996 bestseller #7; my grade: C

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Winds of War: WWII history in stories

Herman Wouk’s 1971 bestseller, The Winds of War, immerses readers in world history from 1939 to December 1941, showing great leaders as ordinary men and ordinary men as great leaders.

Dark clouds are background for title and author info
Winds of War bring storm clouds over Europe.

The story is told through the experiences of an American naval family — Commander Victor “Pug” Henry, his wife, and their three children — and the people who matter to them: the sons’ wives and their families, the prominent people the daughter meets in her work for a popular national radio show.

Pug is sent at President Roosevelt’s behest to “observe” on behalf of the military in Berlin, England, and Russia. He meets Hitler, Churchill, Stalin.

When Germany invades Poland, one son, who was working in Europe, is trapped along with American Jewish woman with whom he’s fallen in love.

The other son, a navy pilot,marries the senate’s most outspoken opponent to American intervention in a European war. He’s at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese bomb it.

Wouk lets all these characters take readers around the world to get a 360-degree view of what led each of the participants into World War II.

Amazingly, Wouk makes every character a believable human being.

The Winds of War is the reading you would have liked to have had in history class.

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
Little, Brown. [1971] 888 p.
1971 bestseller #7. My grade: A+

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

From Here to Eternity is far too long

Hundreds of novels tell us war is hell.

In From Here to Eternity, James Jones tells us the peace-time military isn’t any better. The officers are incompetent and unethical, the enlisted men are social and moral misfits.

Recruits seeking refuge from bumming through the depression know it is just a matter of time until America enter the war. Shiploads of them have are stationed in Hawaii waiting for their time to fight the Germans.

The infantrymen of A company spend their time boozing, brawling, gambling, and queuing for sex at one of the thriving brothels. The officers are similarly occupied, except that instead of brawling, they connive for promotions in a dignified manner.

When the characters are not passed out drunk, they talk. They don’t make sense, but they talk. Mostly they talk in slang, but occasionally they break into long paragraphs that sound like transcripts from a graduate philosophy seminar.

From Here to Eternity is 860 pages of mind-numbing detail about people you wouldn’t want in your living room doing things you don’t want done in your town.

You have better things to do from here to eternity than read this boring book.

From Here to Eternity
by James Jones
Delacort Press, 1951
860 pages
1953 bestseller #5
© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

From Here to Eternity Shows Hell of Peace Time Military

Hundreds of novels tell us war is hell. In From Here to Eternity, James Jones tells us the peace-time military isn’t any better. The officers are incompetent and unethical, the enlisted men social and moral misfits.

Everyone knows it is just a matter of time until America enters World War II.  The military looks like a ticket out of the Great Depression.

Shiploads of recruits have are stationed in Hawaii waiting for their time to fight the Germans. The infantrymen of A company spend their time boozing, brawling, gambling, and queuing for sex at one of the thriving brothels.

The officers are similarly occupied except that instead of brawling they connive for promotions in a dignified manner.

When the characters are not passed out drunk, they talk. They don’t make sense, but they talk. Mostly they talk in slang, but occasionally they break into long paragraphs that sound like transcripts from a graduate philosophy seminar.

From Here to Eternity is 860 pages of mind-numbing detail about people you wouldn’t want in your living room doing things you don’t want done in your town.

You have better things to do from here to eternity than read this boring book.

From Here to Eternity
by James Jones
Delacort Press, 1951
860 pages
My grade C+

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni