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Posts from the ‘Books’ category

Neil Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board

tearBy Ramona du Houx

Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Many of the same elements that led to the Holocaust survive today. Maine author, Neil Rolde, has dedicated himself to broadening our awareness of this era. His histories highlight the degree to which the U.S. helped save Jews during the war and what that required.

The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive written history about the extraordinary work that the Board did—until now.

Neil’s More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board is the definitive history of this heroic organization.

“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. I’m proud to have told the saga of the War Refugee Board in its detailed entirety, in these two volumes,” said author Neil Rolde.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-12-07-40-pmA new documentary by Ken Burns, The Sharps’ War, is the story of how a Unitarian minister and his wife risked their lives to save an estimated 125 Jews, during the height of WWII. Burns said that their story needed to be told.

While researching, Rolde found a treasure trove of stories where people accomplished extraordinary things to save Jewish refugees but their actions were rarely attributed to the work of the War Refugee Board.

For example, Raoul Wallenberg, a heroic Swede who saved at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews is known. “But not many people know that the War Refugee Board had sent Wallenberg secretly to Hungary,” said Neil. “Most of the workers weren’t Jewish. They were a small group of about thirty people doing extraordinary things.”

Tragically, during WWII the U.S. didn’t help refugees as much as the should have because of the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees during the Holocaust, Breckinridge Long.(click to view Neil’s book on Long)

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-11-43-45-am“When I researched Long I came across the War Refugee Board and soon saw the need to write about their work. That lead to my latest about what happened to the Jews after the allies ‘liberated’ Europe. It concentrates on the Bricha, which is Hebrew for escape.”

Rolde’s books are always extensively researched. Neil has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council.

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Breakthrough book about J.K.Rowling’s work, and the ties her series has with religion and its influence with the 9/11 generation

413f8NUwPXL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Marilyn R. Pukkila will read from and sign her book The Skill of a Seeker: Rowling, Religion, and Gen 9/11 on January 10th at the Waterville Public Library, from 2 to 4 pm.

Marilyn’s book is considered a breakthrough in research about Rowling’s work, and the ties her series has with spirituality, religion and its influence with the 9/11 generation.

“This is a book for everyone: the 9/11 generation, who view their lives through the prism of Harry Potter’s experiences, and their elders who seek to understand them. It has much to say to those who have never read the series but struggle as Harry Potter does to accept death and achieve integrity,” wrote Debra Campbell as an endorsement. Campbell is a Professor of Religious Studies at Colby College.

Pukkila’s book helps us understand the continued success of the Harry Potter series, and the impact it has had, and continues to have, on our ever-changing society.

“Marilyn R. Pukkila has delved deep into the world of the spirit and the world of J.K. Rowling. Like Hermione Granger, she brings intelligence and research to bear on her subject, but like Harry himself she also brings a deep love, both for stories and for spirit, teasing out the threads of Rowling’s moral and ethical framework, and suggesting ways that framework may influence millions of young readers and viewers in an increasingly secular age,” endorsed author Jane Raeburn in the book.

Marilyn answers some compelling questions about the Harry Potter series:

What inspired you to do your research?

“I taught a course at Colby College on religious responses to Harry Potter in January of 2010.  I realized from that course that many students didn’t have much in the way of religious background, but that they were comfortable exploring religious and spiritual questions through the medium of Harry Potter because Rowling presented those concepts in a non-denominational fashion.  Read more

Conversations with Quetzalcoatl- short stories by Esther Pasztory with intriguing historical insights

Conversations with Quetzalcoatl

From an article in Maine Insights.
coverIn this intriguing collection, Esther Pasztory, explores the interweaving of the intellect and the imagination with the daily life inside a traditional marriage and the gifts each has to give to the other. The readers’ many transitions between the two worlds, reflective of Ms. Pasztory’s own life, are easy, as both worlds are attractive, and yet, it is Pasztory’s imaginative apparitions and musings that are most illuminating.

When Quetzalcoatl’s pre-Columbian baritone in Conversations with Quetzalcoatl, forces open the quiet in Anna’s twenty-first-century study, and he appropriates the most comfortable piece of furniture in the room, a love seat, readers know they are in for a love story. However, this is not only a love story of an inspired female intellect searching for the true identity of Quetzalcoatl (is he pre-Columbian because he dreams in Nahuatl or Colonial Mexican, the greatest god in Mesoamerica?) but also the tale of a tender twenty-first-century marriage between Anna and her husband, Roy, one in which the couple eat by candlelight, wait for each other in bed, love their children and grandchildren. Quetzalcoatl offers Anna a world beyond the clouds. Roy offers her a Friday fish fry dinner down at the Dockyard Café to celebrate a beautiful late summer’s day in Maine.

Conversations with Quetzalcoatl is Published by Maine’s Polar Bear & Company of Solon. Read more

Maine Fiction

cover-2My Tainted Blood

In My Tainted Blood, a true story, the author hides to avoid capture during WWII. In the book the author, a German Jew teenager, has to hide himself and his loved ones to avoid capture during WWII. This 400 page tuner is based on the true-life story of Hubert C. Kueter.

My Tainted Blood follows Hubert as a boy and teenager in wartime Breslau and postwar Germany. People’s names have been changed but the circumstances are all too real. Read more

Maine’s Neil Rolde launches his new book, “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician”

Neil Rolde's Political Tales

Author/Statesman Neil Rolde has written a new book, Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician.

“If you’ve ever served in a state legislature, lobbied one, or just read about their activities in the newspaper and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll love this book! From page one I couldn’t put it down and I loved every word of Neil’s stories crafted from ‘behind the scenes’ in the Maine legislature,” wrote Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in the book. “The characters may be fictional, but thanks to Neil’s insights and knowledge, coupled with his wonderful writing style, they all came to life.”

“Neil Rolde is one of Maine’s preeminent historians, and we always look forward to his new projects. Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician is a great chance for us to host Neil holding forth on politics as only he can,” said Josh Christie, manager of Sherman’s in Portland, ME, where Neil will launch his book.

  • On April 3rd at 6pm Neil will speak about Political Tales and answer questions during this first book signing at Sherman’s, 49 Exchange Street.
  • On April 21st at 6pm Neil will hold another book event reading/signing at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, just down the road from the Capitol.

Read more

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“The digital revolution, Amazon, electronic books, the disappearance of so many indie bookstores, has been a disruption,” said Novelist Richard Russo, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “Empire Falls,” a story set in a fictional Maine mill town. “It’s especially difficult for younger writers to break in.”

On March 20th Russo launched a new concept in Maine — a literary introduction series — to promote newly-published authors across the country. It’s was held at the Think Tank in Portland, co-sponsored by The Authors Guild, a New York City-based organization of which Russo is a vice president. The series, which will be filmed and archived, has Russo introduce readers to first-time novelists.

March Exhibit- Ramona du Houx’s Transformation book/exhibit

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Gallery Storks is publishing a book of Ramona’s art called, Transformations—
Revealing nature’s complex balance.
Later this year the gallery will hold an exhibit solely of the work in Transformations when the book is released. These images are from the book, some are currently on exhibit at Gallery Storks, in Tokyo, Japan in the March show Treasures.

Ramona du Houx creates fine art photography that looks like watercolor paintings evoking mystery and a sense of wonder. Some find them nostalgic and some mystical.

“Sometimes when people look deeply into these images, they relax and find a tranquil place in the soul, as one would by taking time to be at peace in nature. At other times, the photographs can refresh, excite, and energize one’s soul, as if one were standing by a waterfall. The images have been said to be dreamlike, healing, Zen meditative, and thought provoking,” said Ramona.


See Ramona’s work at http://www.photographybyramonaduhoux.com.

“Scientists, innovators, and inventors throughout history took the time to observe nature and her connective rhythms. But now society plugs us into the Internet, and while that can open doors, sometimes too much of being Internet-connected disconnects us from the mysteries of the natural world that are transformational. I want to help show how nature’s interconnectedness can lead us to discoveries about our world and ourselves,” said du Houx.

Ramona has been “painting with the camera” since 1979, is currently is also a member of the Maine Artist Collective, http://www.maineartistcollective.com and the Harlow Gallery.

The photographic watercolor technique is always a challenge.

“I never know exactly what the results will be, that’s the exciting part of the creation,” said du Houx. “I believe every photograph has an audience, someone the work will speak to personally.”

Real story about a teen’s survival inside Germany during Nazi control- boy became Colby professor


By Ramona du Houx

Recently, books based in Germany during the Nazi takeover in WWII have featured teens finding ways to survive the occupation. Most notably The Book Thief by Markus Zusak’s became a bestseller and movie. In the book a young teen-age girl, Liesel Meminger lives outside of Munich, forced to steal food for survival. With the help of her foster father she learns to read and begins to steal books. These gems of humanity become food for the souls that she shares them with— her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Just during this past year All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, a tale about a blind French girl on the run who encounters a German orphan-turned-resistance tracker on a train, has gained a following. The most recent The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah follows two French sisters fighting to bring their country and family through World War II.

These New York Times bestsellers are all works of fiction.

In My Tainted Blood, a true story, the author hides to avoid capture during WWII. Read more