Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jamie Malanowski

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. A member of the original staff of Spy, where he worked seven years, Malanowski has also been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor. Currently he is the lead writer of the Disunion Blog, about the Civil War, for The New York Times; the series was presented with the 2010 Cliopatria Award for Best History Writing on the web.

Malanowski's new book is And the War Came: The Six Months That Tore America Apart.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Today is the first full day of summer. Usually by this time of year, I've embarked on a slate of thrillers, historical adventure novels, and criminal escapades; hopefully by Independence Day I'll be tearing into Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski, whose earlier books combine an Elmore Leonard-like approach to character with a jolly appetite for bloodshed.

But first I have to finish Eric Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. I'm about halfway through, and I'm enjoying the book quite a bit. It's the story of William Dodd, who was the US Ambassador to Germany in the mid-thirties, and how he comes to reconcile his personal fondness for Germany, his diplomatic obligations, and his growing recognition of the monsters surrounding him. The book is also an account of the experiences of his beautiful daughter, Martha, an intellectually curious and sexually adventurous young woman whose experiences include having affairs with an SS officer and a Soviet spy. I can't wait to see how this one works out.

In the Garden of Beasts could be considered as a kind of sequel on my reading list, since I've just finished To End All Wars, a new history of World War One. Adam Hochschild is an excellent historian and an elegant writer, but what especially distinguishes him is a strong moral sense that infuses all his work. His earlier book, the excellent To Bury the Chains, about British abolitionists and how they ended the slave trade in the early 19th century, was really an inspirational tale about committed people whose strong sense of justice changed the world. To End All Wars, which is mostly about the British experience in the First War World, reprises this accomplishment by telling the story of the war through the eyes of the commanders who prosecuted it, but also through the experiences of women and men who protested it, many at great personal cost. Most histories of the First World War acknowledge that it was a terrible tragedy of shocking proportions; it's quite refreshing and quite sobering to realize, as Hochschild forces us to, that there was another way, that was clearly presented, and that so many people great and small simply refused to recognize it.
Watch the trailer for And the War Came, and learn more about the book and author at Jamie Malanowski's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Coup.

The Page 99 Test: And the War Came.

--Marshal Zeringue