Looking for guidance on your Christmas-gift selection? Let Fr. Gerald E. Murray give you some direction:
This parish priest was once a chaplain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Being around the military reminded me of the generosity of dedicated men and women who love our country and its freedom. Reflecting on the missions for which they they trained reminded me of the need to oppose vigorously evil men who would kill us and our allies. Reading histories of the Second World War has similar good effects.
Military histories always make for instructive reading. The lessons learned can guide us in facing stark present realities, both individually and as a nation. This is especially true for war histories that go beyond the descriptions of battles and relate the effects of war on the men fighting and the civilians caught up in the conflict. I recommend for your consideration two books, one new and the other an out-of-print gem.
First, I could not recommend more highly Hitler’s Empire — How the Nazis Ruled Europe by Columbia professor Mark Mazower. The book examines how the Nazis organized the political and legal regimes they imposed on the nations they conquered. It is an extremely well researched and even better told story of the evil perpetrated by the murderous racialist regime. Mazower spans all the countries conquered by the Nazis and demonstrates the horrors and crimes committed in the cause of absurd master-race theories. This sobering story makes clear the scale of evil practiced by the Nazis and the tragic results for Jews and other victims of the German war machine. Read this to remind yourself that dictators with lots of weapons and fanatical followers are a true threat to life and liberty.
Second, I would urge you to find and buy an out-of-print memoir by an RAF pilot shot down and imprisoned by the Germans: Free as a Running Fox, by Wing Commander T. D. Calnan. This delightful book will entertain and inspire. The heroics of the POWs described demonstrate that a fighting spirit can propel ordinary men to do great things. Calnan was an intrepid man, and his book should be read by every teenage boy in America who wants to know what it means to be a man. All readers will learn why life has to be about something greater than self-interest. In the face of evil, good men like Calnan and his fellow POWs taught us the way to victory and peace.