Tag Archives: World War I

The Gendarme

[Cover]

TitleThe Gendarme

Author:  Mark T. Mustian

Publisher: Penguin Group, September 2010

Summary: Emmett Conn is 92 years old. Recently widowed and suffering from a brain tumor, he is plagued with headaches and bad dreams. The dreams come to him like a movie being played out in his mind, scene by scene. They begin to feel more like memories than dreams, but a head injury suffered during WWI left Emmett with very little memory of the war or his life before it. In these dreams Emmett is a Turkish gendarme, a position that one would hold before becoming a soldier. He is known as Ahmet Khan, the name he had before entering the United States. His assignment as a gendarme is to lead a group of Armenian deportees from their homes in Turkey to a camp in Syria. He leads this caravan of sick and dying men, women, and children for several weeks. Most of these deportees, considered a security threat by the Turkish government, die along the way. Though he wishes that it were not true, Emmett soon accepts that these are memories of his past; a past in which he played a terrible role in an almost forgotten genocide. It is also a past of forbidden love and the search for redemption.

This story alternates between Emmett’s life as it was, slowly revealed to him in his dreams, and his life as it is now. A life filled with doctors’ visits, his daughters growing concern for his physical and mental health, and the awful memories that begin to reveal themselves. It is a story of the horrors of war and the dangers of prejudice. It is also a story of forgiveness-of yourself and those who cause you harm. This is a remarkable novel.

Who will like this book? Fans of historical fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Air We Breathe

Title: The Air We Breathe

Author: Andrea Barrett

Summary: While World War I looms in the future, the patients at Tamarack State Sanatorium are fighting their own battle with tuberculosis and the emotional issues that come from being confined to a strict regimen of rest and little social interaction.  Their insular world begins to expand, however, with the arrival of a somewhat mysterious young chemist from Odessa named Leo Marburg, and the pompous and wealthy Miles Fairchild, who is sure the less fortunate patients will benefit greatly from the wisdom he imparts through his weekly discussion groups. The lives of the patients become more entangled, and life at Tamarack gets complex and messy, bringing about the major disruption that the patients have both longed for and dreaded.  A final and unexpected tragedy will draw the group even closer together, although not to everyone’s benefit.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and that’s mostly because of books like this.  Author Andrea Barrett has done a great job of describing a world we will never know, gently weaving in interesting lessons in both science and history.  She is the author of the National Book Award winner “Ship Fever,” Pulitzer Prize finalist “Servants of the Map,” as well as the fabulous “Voyage of the Narwhal.”
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian