Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guest Post and Giveaway: Libby Cone~ Author of War in the Margins

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Libby Cone, author of War on the Margins. ( totally fantastic book, by the way!) I asked Libby to share with us why she chose this time frame to write about. What is the fascination with WWII? Here's what she had to share. Giveaway details at end of the post.

by Libby Cone
Why do we write so much about World War II? It was the first event that the majority of the planet’s population was aware of while it was happening. It did not involve only Europe, as World War I did, but had theaters of operations in both the eastern and western hemispheres. It resulted in 50-70 million deaths. Something that enormous, something perpetrated by humans upon the whole planet over a relatively short period of time, is unique. What everyone who writes about this event strives for, I think, is to help the readership wrap its brain around this enormity by breaking it down into smaller components. Like a fractal, which looks the same when broken into smaller pieces, looking at the war’s effect on a smaller group of people does not reduce its impact, but rather clarifies it. Readers of Holocaust literature know that the phrase “six million,” when thrown around enough, begins to sound like any other number. But when one portrays individuals, one removes the barriers of impersonality and reaches the reader much more directly.

I was fascinated by the story of the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands because it was free of many of the barriers to understanding usually faced by English speakers. A reader is always confronted with the choice of identification or non-identification with a character. If someone we know suffers a misfortune, we always, whether we realize it or not, tell ourselves that the same thing cannot happen to us because we are younger/healthier/more vigilant than the sufferer.

The story of the Channel Islands makes it difficult to distance oneself. It took place on British soil. Most of the people on the receiving end spoke English as a first language. As most self-identified Jews and members of the organized Jewish community left in the haphazard evacuation prior to occupation, those left behind were indistinguishable from the general population, making them less “different” and easier for readers of all backgrounds to identify with. The harrowing language of the documents from the occupation, with local officials lapsing easily into using terminology like “Aryan,” is verbatim, and not filtered through a layer of translation. Plain old English-speaking folks, people who drank tea and listened to the BBC, both Jewish and Gentile, were treated abominably by the German occupiers, and many of the local officials did nothing to ease their burden. Some neighbors took this as an opportunity to settle old scores, and informed on others. Other quite ordinary people risked (and some suffered) the death sentence to hide Eastern European slave laborers from their captors and to listen to the BBC on clandestine radios. When the reader can no longer think “Well, I don’t speak Polish,” or “I’m not Jewish” or “I live in a modern democracy” in order to establish this unconscious distance, the events really hit home.

Thank you Libby for your insightful thoughts. If you haven't read Libby's book yet, War on the Margins is being released in paperback this month. Be sure to look for it!

For the giveaway, Libby is being most generous in opening this to international entries. Thank you so much, Libby!

Three very fortunate winners will receive one autographed copy of her book, War on the Margins. To enter, you need to comment on some aspect of Libby's guest post. No applicable comment, no valid entry!

Bonus entries available :
+2 for old followers - remind me how you follow and under what name
+3 for new followers thru GFC
+3 for posting about and linking to drawing or tweeting. Please, please please, DO NOT leave 3 separate comments saying you tweeted or that you are a follower! :) Be sure to leave an e-mail contact.

Deadline is September 6th at 5 PM (est) Good luck!


  1. I've been interested in the war there ever since I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. So much of the world was touched by that tragic war, but we usually focus on only a few places.

  2. I also have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and would enjoy reading more about the Channel Islands. I want to believe that people would act humanely toward their neighbors, but as Libby says, some are out for revenge while others risk their lives protecting slave laborers and listening to the BBC on clandestine radios.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  3. Not the best thing to say on here,but if i dont win im going to buy this,but a signed copy WOW.

  4. I totally agree with saying that numbers of deaths do not show the real tragedy - it is one person's (or small group's) story which makes us see the real horror of war.

    I'm your new follower via GFC.

  5. I would love to read this book. I enjoyed reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and would like to know more about the war and the Channel Islands. I wished the Guernsey book had gone more into the history a bit deeper actually.

    I am an old google follower


  6. No need to enter me as I have a copy of the book already. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this guest post. The complexity of the war, its numerous fronts and theaters is fascinating. Every time I read a book about WWII, I learn something new.

  7. Our book club read & discussed The Guernsey book & have said we would love to read another perspective on this.
    I follow you on my yahoo home page.

  8. I wasn't aware that it took place on British soil. Really makes you stop and think.


  9. I follow - Google Friend.


  10. I didn't know much about the Channel Islands and WWII until I read the Guernsey book. Thanks for the info and chance to win!

  11. +2 I am an old GFC follower (holdenj)

  12. I like the author's comment that looking at the war through smaller units does not make the effect less, but helps clarify it. I always like to read books in which I can learn something new.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  13. I love reading about the insights to writing a novel about WW II. I also agree that lumping millions together negates one's comprehension of the tragedies of the War but focusing on one's story brings it to life.
    Love & Hugs, Pam

  14. I am an old follower via GFC & Reader.
    Love & Hugs,

  15. I am intrigued by the author's comment:

    "Like a fractal, which when broken into smaller pieces looks the same, the war's effect on a smaller group of people is

  16. I did not realize that WWII touched the Channel Islands. I am very interested in reading this book and learning more about this aspect of the war.

    Please enter me in this giveaway!

    +2 old follower via GFC

    +3 tweeted:

    familyhistree at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  17. No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say your e-mail was the best I've gotten in eons. I posted it at Win a Book -- I'd have added color like you did if I had any clue how to!

  18. I've always found myself drawn to WWII time period for reasons that I can't quite name. Stories about loss, grief, and resilience touch my heart!!

  19. Great giveaway! I'd love to be entered.

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at]yahoo [dot] it

  20. I think it would be fascinating to read about the Channel Islands -the fact that there aren't those barriers we normally have when reading about WWII would make it a much more realistic reading experience.


  21. WWII is one fascinating story. So much happened and isn't still explained. I think it's always great to read something about... you only learn stuff !

    lauren (dot) prigent (at) gmail (dot) com

  22. I'm interested in the idea that it's easier to relate to these characters because they're more like me - I often read in order to see things from a character's perspective, so I wonder how much more effective this would be.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  23. Another Potato reader here, and when I read it I thought about the horror that it must have been. And how not everyone made it. Some people are always brave and in a world like this one I am glad of that

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com
    I am old follower via blogger

  24. Stories set against a backdrop of war have long been one of my favourite types of books to read. I think partially because it made the very act of living seem more urgent and alive, for want of a different word.

    And yes, I was a huge fan of Guernsey as well!

    Your giveaway will be posted at Historical Tapestry shortly.

  25. I love WW1 qand 2 stories and so many books have now surfaced with this as its backdrop. I also did not know that Channel Islands was involved - would be nice reading about this as well.

    I am an old follower on GFC + 2


  26. Actually the death toll for WWII is estimated to be closer to 80 million because China and other Asian countries did not keep accurate records of the number of deaths of civilians during and post war.

    I would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    I am also a neww follower +3

    jgoffice (at) cox (dot) net

  27. I am interested in stories relating to WWII due to the fact I was brought un a small island and when I was a child people used to talk about it a lot. I remember the impact the soldiers deaths had on a very small community. I also had the good fortunate to know someone who survived the Japanese Death railway.

  28. Always interested to read about the war from a non -text book POV.
    With my husband grandfather being treated as a Jew when he was a prisoner of war due to his blonde hair blue eyes.
    He escaped 7 times some of the worst camps and his wife twice had the offcial news he was dead.
    He evntually suceeded and return to british soil to spend 2 years in a hospital in teh Portsmouth area as he was severely malnourish and had not a hair on his body.
    He wa told he never father kids, he went on to have 11.( I think he made his point the doc were wrong lol).
    So anything like this book that brings such things to life , but without over dramatising it are much loved in my house


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