Friday, August 31, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 12

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The truth is that in any conflict between altruistic purpose and private self-interest, the latter always wins hands down." p. 153.

"The New Deal not only cost the American tax payer billions and greatly depleted the accumulated resources of the country, it also burdened future generations with a charge that will grow larger and larger as year chases year." p. 159.

"No politician is ever benefited by saving money; it is spending it that makes him." p. 159.

"There is a great need of a history of political corruption in America." p. 160.

"The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea, however fundamental it may seem to be, for a better one." p. 166.

"The English know how to make the best of things. So-called 'muddling through' is simply skill at dealing with the inevitable." p. 167.

"The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun and scratch himself." p. 168.

"The only way a government can provide jobs for all citizens is by deciding what every man shall do." p. 168.

"It is never possible for a metaphysician to state his ideas in plain English." p. 169.

"The thing that makes philosophers respected is not actually their profundity, but simply their obscurity." p. 178.

"Philosophers translate vague and dubious ideas into high-sounding words, and their dupes assume, as they assume themselves, that the resulting obfuscation is a contribution to knowledge." p. 178.

"Yesterday, the danger that a soldier ran in the field was the danger of a duelist with a sword in hand; today, it is much more like the danger of a hog in a slaughter-house." p. 179.

"Life on this earth is not only without rational significance, but also apparently unintentional." p. 182.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 11.

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The human race, taking one day with another, has very little respect for intelligence; what it really admires is presumption, effrontery, dogmatism." p. 134.

"There seems to be a deep instinct in women which teaches them that most of the aspirations of men are vain." p. 139.

Democracy defined: "...the heavy stressing of self-reliance, the doctrine of equality before the law, government by laws not men, the insistence upon free competition." p. 139.

"The cost of quackery has never been properly estimated." p. 140.

"It takes a long while for a naturally trustful person to reconcile himself to the idea that after all God will not help him." p. 141.

"...the American people have been bolstering up its government's powers and giving it more and more jurisdiction over their affairs, paying for that folly in increased taxes and diminished liberties." p. 143.

"Politicians' principal, and indeed their sole, object is to collar public office, with all the privileges and profits that go therewith." p. 147.

"The idea at the bottom of the Christian Eucharist is precisely the idea at the bottom of cannibalism.... The devotee believes that he will acquire something of the psychological quality of the creature by devouring its body." p. 148.

"The politician is the most transient of the world's great men. Who knows who was Speaker of the House under Hayes?" p. 149.

"One of the most amusing by-products of war is its pricking of the fundamental democratic delusion...Homo Boobus...flapping his wings over his God-given rights, his inalienable freedom, his sublime equality to his masters. Of a sudden he is thrust into a training camp, and discovers that he is a slave after all--that even his life is not his own." p. 150.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 10

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The papers printed in the English Journal, the Proceedings of the Modern Language Association and similar periodicals seldom show any professional competence or contribute anything worth knowing to the subject. Would certainly be unusual to find any similar rubbish in a journal of chemistry, astronomy or zoology, or even in a medical journal." p. 122.

"The thirst for liberty does not seem to be natural to man; most people want security in this world, not liberty." p. 123.

"Liberty puts people on their own, and so exposes them to the natural consequences of their congenital stupidity and incompetence."

"Scratch the average American and you will find a Puritan." p. 125.

"All the leaders of groups tend to be frauds." p. 125.

"Of all the classes of men, I dislike most those who make their living by talking--actors, politicians, pedagogues, and so on." p. 126.

"...the applause of today was almost invariably followed by the indifference of tomorrow." p. 126.

"The critic challenges other men's work and is exposed to no comparable challenge of his own." p. 129.

"The human race has probably never produced a wholly admirable man." p. 130.

"A woman of the highest order of intelligence entering into the sciences, or into commerce or manufacturing, always finds herself subordinate to some man, and it not infrequently happens that he is her inferior on all...counts." p. 131.

"What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world? He gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell." p. 132.

"A one who spends his whole life trying to prolong the lives of persons whose deaths, in nine cases out of ten, would be a public benefit." p. 132.

"Whenever a given school system turns out to be relatively rational and effective, no one remembers the school ma'ams who make it so, for all the credit and glory are hogged by the super-gogues at the head of it." p. 133.

"When another school system is discovered to be ineffective the blame is heaped on the school ma'ams, and the super-gogues proceed to supplant them with others trained in some new abracadabra." p. 133.

"On some bright tomorrow, so I hope and pray, someone will write a history of common sense." p. 133.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 09.

Significant sentences for HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The medical specialist is simply a man who has seen the situation now confronting him a great many times, and is familiar with its variations." p. 86.

"The believing mind is... impervious to evidence." p. 96.

"Not long ago, in fact, an actual investigation in Pennsylvania demonstrated that college students often regress so much during their four years that the average senior is less intelligent, by all known tests, than the average freshman." p. 98.

"Life has been defined as...the capacity to suffer." p. 99.

"A professor, even at his best, is a pedagogue, and a pedagogue is seldom much of a man." p. 102.

"The notion that it is against human nature to want to die is...absurd; many men, in fact, show an active desire to die and have it over." p. 108.

"Of all varieties of men, the one who is least comprehensible to me is the reformer, the uplifter, the man, so-called, of public spirit. I am chiefly unable to understand his oafish certainty that he is right--his almost pathological inability to grasp the notion that, after all, he may be wrong." p. 113.

"Anything is conceivable in a world so irrational as this one." p. 113.

"Actually, altruism simply does not exist on earth; even the most devoted nun, laboring all her life in the hospitals, is sustained by the promise of a stupendous reward...billions of centuries of indescribable bliss for a few years of unpleasant but certainly not unendurable drudgery and privation." p. 114.

"Ideas of duty are mainly only afterthoughts." p. 118.

" is hard to imagine even an idiot believing seriously that he will exist as a gaseous vertebrate for a hundred billion years." p. 119.

"The elements in democracy that are sound in logic and of genuine cultural value may be briefly listed: equality before the law; the limitation of government; free speech." p. 119.

"Of all human qualities, the one I admire most is competence." p. 120.

" contempt for teachers of English: not one in ten of them has any sort of grasp of the difficult subject he professes, or shows any desire to master it." p. 120.

"The teacher of English can outfit himself for his career by reading a few plays of Shakespeare, memorizing the rules of grammar laid down by idiots, and learning to pronounce either as if it were spelled eyether." p. 121.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 08

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"Human beings never welcome the news that something they have long cherished is untrue; they almost always reply to that news by reviling its promulgator." p. 65.

"All of us, to be sure, cherish delusions...." p. 67.

"It was not until skepticism arose in the world that genuine intelligence dawned." p. 67.

"People soon find by experience that the ecstasy of sex, like any other powerful emotion, is self-limiting, and that after it has passed off they are substantially unchanged." p. 68.

"The average clergyman is a kind of intellectual eunuch comparable to a pedagogue, a Rotarian or an editorial writer." p. 70.

"...the average man simply spends his leisure as a dog spend it." p. 70.

"The relativity of moral ideas is proved anew every time there is a war." p. 72.

"Men are the only animals who devote themselves assiduously to making one another unhappy." p. 76.

"There are Englishmen, of course, who pretend to friendliness for the United States, but it always turns out on brief investigation, that they are trying to sell something. p. 76.

"The only cure for contempt is countercontempt." p. 77.

"Every rebel believes that he is bringing in a new day that will last." p. 78.

"Can the United States ever become genuinely civilized?" p. 81.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 07.

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The capacity of human beings to bore one another...." p. 56.

"Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man...has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent." p. 57.

"There are people who read too much." p. 59.

"I am willing to go along with an innovator so long as I am convinced that he is making a sincere effort to arrive at the truth. The moment I begin to suspect that his desire for the truth is corrupted by an itch to sell something, I quit." p. 59.

"It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods." p. 63.

"It may be, indeed, that the artistic impulse is simply a kind of disgust with things as they are." p. 63. [I would substitute "creative impulse" for "artistic impulse." RayS.]

"The artist is one who tries to create a better world than the one in front of him." p. 64.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 06.

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The same childish credulity is visible in the doctrine that the cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy." p. 29.

"Intellectuals are so bogged down in dogma that it is impossible for them to make themselves understood." p. 30.

"The whole process [trial, conviction, sentencing and execution] should be shortened to bring crime and punishment close together." p. 31.

"As things stand, the spread between [conviction, sentencing and execution] is so great that by the time the criminal comes to the chair the crime is forgotten and all we see is a poor fish making a tremendous (and sometimes even gallant) effort to save his life, with all sorts of shyster lawyers and do-gooders as assistant heroes." p. 31.

"One of the strangest delusions of the Western mind is to the effect that a philosophy of profound wisdom is on tap in the East." p. 36.

"The existence of most human beings is of absolutely no significance to history or to human progress." p. 39.

"Most human beings live and die as anonymously and as nearly uselessly as so many bullfrogs or houseflies." p. 39.

"If all the inhabitants of the Appalachian chain succumbed to some sudden pestilence tomorrow, the effect upon civilization would be but little more than that of the fall of a meteorite into the jungles of the Amazon." p. 41.

"...for it becomes manifest that the United States, which escaped unscathed from both wars, will have to destroy deliberately much of the sort of property that was destroyed in Europe and Asia by military vandalism. Its plants will need modernizing to meet the competition of the new plants built to replace the war's ruins." p. 44.

"...for a man who really knows a subject is seldom content to spend his lifetime teaching it." p. 44.

"There is simply no way for his [the patient's] physician to tell him just what is the matter with him, for all the concepts on which the explanation must be based, and even most of its terms, are incomprehensible to him." p. 45.

"Men always try to make virtues of their weaknesses." p. 47.

"Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses." p. 48.

"It is impossible to hang the average murderer until he has killed at least a dozen people." p. 53.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 05

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

" the silliest of all the vices." p. 23.

" delight in work because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done...offers an escape from boredom...nothing harder to do than nothing." p. 24.

"God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable; God will set them above their betters." p. 24.

"Equality before the law is probably forever unattainable." p. 25.

"...what men value in this world is not rights but privileges." p. 25.

"It collides, like the Russian system, with certain irremovable facts of human nature." p. 26.

"Free speech must either be thought of as a value in itself, or there is no uses in thinking of it at all." p. 27.

"Free speech's exercise must inevitably benefit fools quite as much as sensible men...." p. 27.

"The intellectuals believed as a cardinal article of faith that there was a remedy at hand for every conceivable public ill...." p. 28.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 04

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The essential difficulty of pedagogy lies in the impossibility of inducing a sufficiency of superior men and women to become pedagogues." p. 20.

"It is impossible to make boys take seriously the teaching of men they hold in contempt." p. 20.

"No one rally cares what the private morals of the other fellow may be, but there must be some confidence that he will react in ordinary situations according to the familiar patterns and without too much aberration." p. 21.

"...even in the best society, manners are immensely important." p. 21.

"No man can be really friendly to another whose personal habits differ materially from his own.... The trivialities of table manners...become important." p. 21.

"Each [people of different nationalities] can become accustomed to the ways of the other, but it takes time, and in certain fields it takes a good deal of time." p. 21.

"All poetry is simply an escape from reality." p. 22.

"The five-day week...has given... more time to listen to the radio and look at movies.... No sign whatever that any considerable number of the underprivileged have put their new leisure to profitable use.... Just as stupid as they were before they had it.... Some reason to believe that they are more stupid." p. 22.

"It seems to be inevitable for all men, after they are put in positions of authority, to exercise it in a brutal and inequitable manner." p. 23.

"The moral bully is the worst of all; Puritanism is completely merciless." p. 23.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 03

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"As things stand, civil law is so complicated...that it is constantly colliding with human nature." p. 15.

"It is what men esteem that determines their conduct." p. 15.

"No one can ever really avoid doing what he holds to be evil." p. 17.

"The Catholic is fortunate in the fact that the sinner can go to a priest and get rid of his sense of guilt." p. 17.

"The main gain of modern man has been the weakening of governments." p. 17.

"...the only sort of man who is really worth while...the man who practices some useful trade in a competent manner, makes a decent living at it, pays his own way, and asks only to be let alone." p. 17.

The persistence of the belief in immortality is because the majority of men are unable to grasp the concept of annihilation. p. 17. [Paraphrase] "People grasp readily enough the idea of being unconscious for a short time, but they are quite unable to think of being unconscious forever." p. 17.

The writer: "Solitary, lonely, tired of himself, wrought up to an abnormal sensitiveness, he wrestles abominably with intolerable complexities--shadowy notions that refuse to reveal themselves clearly, doubts that torture, hesitations that damn." p. 19.

"Worse, the writer must plod his way through many days when writing is impossible altogether--days of doldrums, of dead centers, of utter mental collapse." p. 19.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 02.

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture. 02.

"A strong government always wars on the superior man." p. 7.

"No human being can continue on the higher planes of thought for any great length of time." p. 10.

"I have sat in my time on what might plausibly be described as relatively profound discussion...have noticed that their profundity was a matter of occasional flames; most of the time the debate went on on much lower levels." p. 10.

"What they [average people] mistake for thought is simply repetition of what they have heard." p. 10.

"My guess is that well over 80% of the human race goes through life without ever having a single original thought." p. 10.

"Human life is basically a comedy." p. 11.

"A man who can laugh, if only at himself, is never really miserable." p. 11.

"To fight seems to be as natural to man as to eat." p. 12.

"The thing constantly overlooked by those hopefuls who talk of abolishing war is that it is by no means an evidence of decay but rather a proof of health and vigor." p. 12.

"...war is a natural revolt against the necessary but extremely irksome discipline of civilization...." p. 13.

"He [the soldier] is, in war, in the position of a free adult; in peace he is almost always in the position of a child." p. 14.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences.

Minority Report: HL Mencken's Notebooks
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1956.

Why read it? If you have not read something by H.L. Mencken, you have missed one of the truly memorable misanthropes in civilization, who wrote in a style that infuriated most of his readers. He is a wall-to-wall critic of almost everything to be encountered in American society in his own day and today, and each of his shafts brings from readers the response, "Damn it, he's right!" Well, half-right, anyway. Anyone who reads H.L. Mencken never forgets him.

Significant sentences from HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

HL Mencken's Preface to Minority Report: "If I could begin another life at my septuagesima I might have some expectation of developing [the notes contained in this book and the thousands of like ones that still lie in my bin] into something properly describable as a coherent and even elegant system, but as it is, I'll have to spend my time post-mortem either bawling liturgical music (which I greatly dislike) or boiling in oil (which no one speaks well of)."

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." p. 3.

"A dull, dark, depressing day in winter: the whole world looks like a Methodist church at Wednesday night prayer meeting." p. 3.

"In a country of pushers and yearners, what a joy to meet a man who envies no one and wants to be nothing that he is not." p. 3.

"The really astounding thing about marriage is not that it so often goes to smash, but that it so often endures." p. 3.

"I am willing to admit evidence to show that the victim, though perhaps not a criminal himself, was of such small social value that his death or injury was no appreciable public loss." p. 5.

"The late Judge Frederick Bausman of Seattle...proposed...that a sharp distinction be made between murderers whose crimes are of such a character that any normal persons, under the circumstances, might be imagined committing them, and murderers who kill strangers for gain." p. 6.

[In favor of sterilization of criminals]: "Even if it is argued that their criminality is thus the product of environment rather than of heredity, it follows that the environment they themselves provide for children is very likely to produce more criminals." p. 7.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wings of Morning. Significant Sentences 11. Afterword.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WW II, and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

Some thoughts by the author, Thomas Childers:

"More than two hundred letters written by Howard Goodner between the fall of 1942 and the spring of 1945 and approximately three hundred letters written by Robert Peterson to his wife Marie during the same period form the documentary core of the book." p. 271.

"Both men wrote almost daily, and, together, their letters offer a remarkable guide to an American air crew's day-to-day experience in training and combat." p. 271.

"In researching the book, I employed methods normally used by professional historians, but in telling the story I have turned to narrative techniques usually associated with fiction." p. 272.

"But ultimately this book belongs to my father, Tom Childers, who inspired it and who did not live to see it completed, and to my late grandparents, Ernest and Callie Goodner, who preserved Howard's letters and his memory and who always believed, as the old wartime song went, that they would meet again." P. 273.

RayS.'s Note: I think this book is one of my most memorable reading experiences. I felt as if I were there with Howard Goodner and the crew of the Black Cat. The ironies of war, so clearly represented in Tolstoy's War and Peace, were reinforced and brought up to date vividly in this book. I thought of JFK's comment (my paraphrase) that life is unfair, that some men die in the war, some are injured and some never leave the country. Life is unfair.

I think, for anyone who wants to understand the experience of WWII, no film, fictional or documentary, can convey the thoughts of the men engaged in combat the way this book can. A remarkable and unforgettable book.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wings of Morning. Sighificant Sentences 10. Conclusion.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII, and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war. Conclusion.

"Every flak battery that shot down an Allied plane was required to submit a report...type of plane hit...the fate of the crew." p. 248.

In the town where the Black Cat had been shot down: "...past a cluster of home and garden centers, furniture discount houses and shopping plazas that seemed more appropriate to the Philadelphia suburbs than Bavaria." p. 250.

"Typical of German farm villages, the neat stucco houses, their windowsills accented with potted geraniums...." p. 250.

"...never asking leading questions or giving anything away." p. 250.

"...a simple cross made of birch." p. 269.

"The marker is dedicated to all the casualties of the war, but at its base a small bronze plaque lists the names of the men who died there on April 21, 1945, a reminder to all who pass that even in triumph there is heartbreak." p. 269.

"I thought of each of them--Frarrington, Regan, Wieser, Barrett, Noe, Murphy, Peterson, and Perella--men whom I had never met but whom I would never forget." p. 269.

"Tractors moved across the rolling swells of the rich, dark earth, and in their wake, as happens each April, shattered bits of plexiglas and twisted metal--mute reminders of the Black Cat and the men who died here--were rising in the furrows." p. 269.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wings of Morning. Significant Sentences. 09

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII, and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

"Howard came home on December 10, 1948." p. 231.

"...a bored young clerk produced a folder marked TSGT Goodner, Howard G. from a bank of filing cabinets behind him." p. 233.

"But I could follow the trail of the Richard Farrington crew to discover what I could about an uncle I had never known, but whose presence had hovered over me from my earliest memories, and I would find answers to the questions that had haunted my family and others since the spring of 1945." p. 235.

"Each mission folder contained a copy of the briefing notes, maps of the routes in and out, strike photos, and a final summary of the mission. p. 235.

"Studying the thin mimeographed sheets of the 466th's operations diary, I was staggered by the cruel ironies of the mission." p. 236.

"...looking at him, the survivor [he had parachuted from the plane], and wondering, he always thought, why he had come back and their son or brother or husband had not." p. 240.

"But above all they remembered with deep bitterness that a decision by the command pilot--against the pleas of his own navigator and mickey man and others throughout the formation--took them directly over Regensburg." p. 242.

"Everywhere I saw reflected back at me the same tableau of love and pain that I had known in my own family--the same snapshots from the last visit home, the scrapbooks full of yellowing newspaper clippings and curling photographs, the boxes of V-mails, the same heartbreaking telegrams, kept neatly in their torn envelopes." p. 246.

"And as we talked and wrote and visited in the months that followed, the crew came alive again, one by one, borne on the wings of memory, and we found ourselves bound together in a chain of love and loss that passed beyond the generations." p. 246.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wings of Morning. Significant Sentences 08.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII, and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

"When the Boys Are Home Again" (cont.)
"...we know what it actually means not ever to be able to see our own again, in whom we have centered our thoughts, hopes and plans; it just does not seem right or fair, yet it is a definite fact over which we have no control." p. 224.

"Their plane was shot down, the only one in the thirty-seven." p. 224.

"...if they had been flying their regular position of main lead plane this would not have occurred, but instead they were in about the center of the group, and if they used their chutes when first struck may have been saved, but instead they stayed with the plane until they had piloted it out of formation." [Otherwise, the disabled plane possibly might have caused several others also to crash.] p. 224.

"I believe I am broad-minded enough to accept in good grace most of the adverse things that happen to us in life...but the loss of Jack [Regan] I can never accept, because in my opinion it was caused by the stupidity of some one individual or group of individuals in charge of this particular mission." p. 225. [You must read the book to understand the truth of this statement.]

"Also, to top matters off, all flying was stopped four days later." p. 225.

"Why such a thing happened and in such a way, I will never be able to comprehend." p. 225.

"It was the last mission the 787th flew." p. 226.

" doesn't seem fair when it was so near the end."

"We thought Christmas was bad last year, not having Jack with us, but this year was worse, knowing he would never be with us again." p. 228.

"A report has been received which discloses that the remains of Captain Wiser are interred in Grave 258, Row 11, Plot B, in the United States Military Cemetery, Nuremberg, Germany." p. 229.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wings of Morning. Significant Sentences 07.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII, and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

"Luck Is a Lady"
"All around the ship flak bursts erupted, like a sea of black umbrellas popping suddenly open on a crowded London Street." p. 170.

" any change in the routine, it was unsettling." p. 177.

"The Black Cat"
"They were not supposed to fly." [Opening sentence of the chapter] p. 185.

"When the Boys Are Home Again"
"So the tiny community of families, bound together in their anxiety, fear, and hope, continued to cling to the possibility that others had bailed out of the aircraft or that it had crash landed successfully and the crew would still show up." p. 212.

"With no information coming fro the War Department they turned to one another." p. 214.

"Poor exchange, all these meaningless medals in place of my husband." p. 218.

"Staggered with grief and yet unwilling, unable, to accept the War Department's terse communication as unequivocal, unalterable fact, the Goodners, like the Brennans, the Petersons, and the other families of the crew, found in the very vagueness of these grim messages enough to nourish a slim residue of hope." p. 221.

"The news flashed through the beleaguered families from Philadelphia to New York to St. Louis to Tennessee to Chicago." p. 223.

"Surrounded everywhere by returning service men and scenes of joyous reunion, it all seemed too much to comprehend, too much to bear." p. 224.

"I see Bob in every khaki uniform...." p. 224.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Wings of Morning. Thomas Childers. Significant Sentences 06.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII and a vivid re-creation of participating in the war.

"The Wings of Morning" (cont.)
"Gripping the wheel tightly, Farrington made a discovery that countless others had made before him--that it was possible to sweat at thirty below zero." p. 89.

"...the whole formation seemed to hang suspended over the invisible target." p. 89.

" 'Bombs Away,' Manners barked at last, and the plane heaved suddenly upward as its deadly cargo tumbled out, vanishing into the clouds below." p. 89.

"I'll Get By"
"...the group's formation diagram revealed that Farrington was slated to fly the tail-end Charlie slot in the low-left squadron...the most difficult and dangerous position in the whole formation...the coffin corner." p. 96.

"If Only in My Dreams"
" 'Two pounds!' Jerry said with mock indignation; 'we came to save your ass, honey, not to buy it.' "p. 131.

"...the bouts of depression, combat fatigue verging on catatonia, self-destructive behavior that endangered a man and his crew." p. 135.

"The first five missions were typically the worst in a combat tour, when men saw flak and fighters and the tight formations for the first time, when they came to understand the brutal fragility of their existence." p. 135.

"They concentrated on the details of their jobs, hunkering down into the routine and realized that they could cope with the stress and survive." p. 135.

"People were dying by the hundreds of thousands from Manchuria to Shanghai, by the millions across the plains of Russia, but for Howard and Nancy and their friends the autumn of 1941 meant only that the team had gone undefeated...." p. 139.

"...the war whose end had seemed so near would grind on and on and on." p. 141.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wings of Morning. Thomas Childers. Signficant Sentences. 05.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

"The Wings of Morning" (cont.)
"At twenty thousand feet the frigid crystalline air would howl through the unpressurized aircraft like a gale and the temperatures would plunge to minus thirty or forty degrees Fahrenheit." p. 77.

The electrically heated F-3 flying suit: "Small, well-insulated wires, which would be plugged into the electrical system at his station in the aircraft, ran like veins throughout the dark brown jacket and overall pants." p. 77.

"Slowly the planes, ghostly silhouettes in the dingy mist, nosed ponderously out of their hardstands and began their lumbering procession." p. 81.

"Farrington was flying the artificial horizon, flying blind, ignoring his instincts, his senses, and relying instead on his instruments." p. 83.

"Planes from as many as forty air fields would be surging through the thick clouds into the packed air space over East Anglia at approximately the same time." p. 84.

"In the thin, bone-numbing air of northern Europe at twenty-three thousand feet the temperature inside the plane plunged to thirty below zero." p. 85.

"If the rheostat failed now, if the electric suit shorted out, he would freeze." p. 85.

"The Eighth Air Force, their instructor warned them, lost more men to frostbite than to enemy action." p. 85.

Arming the bombs: "The slippery, frozen catwalk was too narrow for him to wear his parachute, so as he leaned out in the frigid bomb bay, holding with one gloved hand to the vertical stanchions...a false step, he realized, would send him plunging through the doors to his death five miles below." p. 86.

"Mary, Mother of God, get me out of this." p. 88.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wings of Morning. Thomas Childers. Significant Sentences. 04.

Significant sentences from Wings of Morning by Thomas Childers, the story of the last American bomber shot down over Germany in WWII and a vivid re-creation of participation in the war.

"Somewhere in England"
"Daylight precision bombing is the name of the game...and that means high-altitude formation flying." p. 48.

"Rain became the dominant element in their lives." p. 59.

Impressions of the British: "Everything seemed grimy, encased in soot,and the people appeared as gray as their surroundings." p. 60.

"...he wondered, for perhaps the hundredth time that day, what he, Howard Goodner from Cleveland, Tennessee, was doing in a cold, dimly lit hut in the flatlands of East Anglia." p. 63. [RayS. Note: Howard Goodner was the uncle of the author, Thomas Childers.]

"The Wings of Morning"
"Takeoff and assembly were nerve-racking, dangerous phases of any mission, and the planning had to be meticulous." p. 67.

"...sending up approximately one hundred aircraft at almost the same time in an area the size of greater Philadelphia." p. 67.

"The men stumbled out of their bunks, frozen, scared, and, despite the hour, wide awake." p. 70.

"All along the road between the huts the silent shapes of men passed in the gloom...." p. 71.

" the truck, with its smell of metal, gasoline and wet canvas, there was little talk." p. 71.

"...they were all thinking the same thing: when the weary crews straggle back to this mess hall this afternoon, another mission behind them, will I be among them?" p. 72.