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From 'Hollywood and Hitler' to 'Hunger Games' -- and what are you reading?

Betty Stein
Betty Stein
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:01 am
Book time!One very good look at the movie business during the early years of the Hitler regime is “Hollywood and Hitler 1933-1939,” written by Thomas Doherty. It is an education about the money-making side of film producing, and Germany paid a lot for Hollywood’s products.

The question then posed was, “Do we continue making money by censoring anti-Nazi material, or do we show what is happening?”

I learned a lot. I remembered some of the films of that era; I still think “All Quiet on the Western Front” with Lew Ayres was one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen. It was anti-war, so of course was unpopular among the Nazis. The author writes about the major film companies — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Twentieth Century, United Artists, Warner Bros. and small companies, too. He writes about newsreels — the extreme difficulty of getting any timely material and then the results of showing what there was.

Incidentally, Warner Bros. comes off best, according to Doherty’s reporting, showing integrity by depicting what was happening regardless of the loss of business. As I said, the book was an education. I think you’ll agree.

I had been waiting for Daniel Silva’s next book, and it finally was published. It’s “The English Girl,” and, of course, has Silva’s character Gabriel Allon being his usual inventive, brilliant self. I was very disappointed in him during the first part of the book. There’s too much killing and no regret. But finally the novel takes off. So does the reader; we go all over Europe, even to Moscow, and the British Isles.

It seems the prime minister of England has been indiscreet and has a mistress. Kidnapping her and avoiding a scandal plus a whole lot of government maneuvering, etc., and will we find her alive — all this takes over. Silva’s usual Israeli characters, including Gabriel’s wife, Chiara, make their usual interesting appearances. It’s not the best Silva, but it did make the best-seller list for a while. You’re on your own.

Of course, one has to read Rowling, even if the book says it’s written by Robert Galbraith. So I read “Cuckoo’s Calling.” You remember the magic of the prose in the Harry Potter books; it’s not here. In fact, I was horrified by the overuse of the f-word that until very recently was never printed in full. Maybe this is a generational thing, but I am still appalled at how often it appears in print now — and is in movies and television, too.

Oh, well. This book’s protagonist is a man I grew to like. He’s Cormoran Strike, who lost a leg in Afghanistan and is now trying to make a living as a private detective. He employs a temp named Robin, whom we also like very much. And he is given a challenging case: Did Lula Landry commit suicide, or was she pushed? We meet a lot of interesting characters, including John Bristow, and the story has its twists and turns and it is a comparatively quick read.

How can one be alive and talking books with people and not feel she has to read “The Hunger Games”? So many of the youngsters at school have been fascinated with the series I felt I should see what Suzanne Collins came up with that is so attractive. So I borrowed a copy from the school library. I saw why so many people have been captivated by the books and the film.

As one young woman said to me just a short while ago, “And it is possible, too.” I don’t know about that. But I do know that it is a fun read, and you’ll be able to smile and nod your head knowingly when it is mentioned — and it will be. Confession: I have not read all three books in the series. I probably won’t.

Now I’m over halfway through “The Light in the Ruins.” Once again I stumbled onto a book in which Florence, Italy, appears a lot, and if it isn’t Florence it’s Rome or another of the wonderful cities of Italy. More later about that.

And what are you reading?


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