Ground Zero Books, LTD
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Electile Dysfunction or Trumpian Triumph?

December 1st, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President

Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

We know—most of us have election fatigue, but it is hardly surprising that in our first column after this transformative election that we will at least provide some commentary (and perhaps some perspective) on the election.

First, as a purveyor of a wide array of works on war, peace, and politics, we have no wish to either pander to or to alienate portions of our customer base. Our collection is a “big tent”’ with works representing all perspectives and most if not all eras, geographic areas, memoirs, and analyses. As trained historians, we advocate research, analysis, and learning over promotion of one or another viewpoint. Actually, we encourage the investigation of many viewpoints in support of understanding and as a process for validating one’s own views.

In the United States, the election of Mr. Trump was by many unexpected (especially by those who placed undue reliance on opinion polls and even exit polls). From another perspective, it was the continuation of a trend that has developed within Europe and was most recently communicated through the “BREXIT” vote in the United Kingdom. As a recent Nobel Prize recipient once opined, “The times, they are a-changing.” For political scientists, this is a continuation of a trend of Republican resurgence since President Obama took office—they will point not only to the Presidency, but to net losses by Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives, governorships, and control of one or both houses in state legislatures. Social scientists, and especially sociologists, may look at the alienation of many population sectors, not just rural white males without college degrees. Economists, whether they hark back to candidate Bill Clinton’s War Room focus on “It’s the economy, stupid!” or just look at the economic stagnation, lack of growth in real wages, and increases in health care and other costs, will have their own take on the results of the voting across the country.

What does all this mean? There are at least two answers. The first is, “watch this space,” as over time there will be post-mortems, rebuttals, digital indications (i.e. finger pointing), propaganda, advocacy, instant analysis, and ultimately scholarly analysis that may even lead to generally accepted understanding. Another is, “browse this space,” as we at Ground Zero Books, Ltd., will continue to acquire and offer books, journals, monographs, pamphlets, technical reports, government documents, ephemera, and other materials that can help each of us to obtain information, appreciate perspectives, and reach understandings on issues, individuals, and impacts.

You do not have to wait for the incoming wave of newly produced reactions to the election, or to other current events, trends, personalities, and perspectives! We have over 57,000 items currently available online and an equal or greater number of items awaiting cataloguing and uploading for your perusing pleasure. Many of these items are informative not only for understanding what went on before, but for understanding our present situations and circumstances, and providing in part a basis for anticipating (not predicting) unfolding events and their impacts and implications. We still have copies of books by President-elect Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as titles by others who put their hat into the ring, including Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Martin O’Malley, and others. We have assessments of past elections, their surprises, validations, and impacts. We have platforms and manifestos reflecting pragmatic to utopian visions of a future folks would have liked to attain. We have items from the perspectives of acting on perceived mandates and on the power and potential of political protests.

We started this column by noting that we respect the divergent views of our clients and do not choose to use this space to advocate or denigrate any party, position, or perspective. We respect the diversity of opinion and the integrity of individually held belief. It is our hope, nay more than that—it is our mission and our goal, to be a provider of choice because of the quality of our products, the integrity of our business practices, and the excellence of our customer service. To that end, we once again remind you that if you choose to deal with us directly, rather than through third party providers, we will pass along savings from not paying sales commissions. We encourage you to request our ten per cent discount when you purchase directly from our website, via e-mail, snail mail, and/or by phone. If the order and payment confirmation process can be validated, we will even accept telepathic orders. We appreciate your dialogue on our catalogue descriptions and annotations and other comments. We welcome want list and search requests, and have an earned reputation for assisting scholars and organizations through research tasks.

We look forward to continuing to serve your needs, wants, and desires (at least some of them) as we move into 2017. Permit us to wish you all the best for the upcoming holiday seasons. May your New Year may be filled with health, happiness, and the occasional “got to have” purchases from Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

98 going on 100—Putting some Sense into the Centennial

November 1st, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

We are just about two years away from the one hundredth anniversary of “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” of 1918, marking the Armistice that suspended—rather than ended—the First World War, initially called the Great European War.  The Armistice was followed by a Peace Conference and Peace Treaties, but was not really followed by peace itself.

Immense amounts of ink have been expended in writing about this war—but probably nowhere near the volume of blood that was spilt in that global conflict.   One of the key differences is that the blood did not last.  The ground absorbed it, the stains faded—but the printed word endured and continues to endure and to expand—to confirm and to challenge our beliefs, perspectives, and understanding.

More than many other conflicts—both those before it and those that came afterwards—the First World War continues to fascinate.  This conflict is a microcosm of war, peace, and politics.  One can find everything if one looks deeply into the First World War.  There is the advance of military technology from the tank to reconnaissance and armed aircraft.  There is heroism and cowardice.  There are spies and counterespionage operations.  There are clearly civilian impacts.  There are plans for the post-war world order, although revolutions complicated such plans. There are those who followed the rules of war, and there are those who committed atrocities and war crimes.  There are naval battles and submarines silently destroying civilian vessels.  There is generalship and statesmanship, and alliances which endured and those that “shifted.”  Some monarchies fell and others were reaffirmed.  Empires were carved up.  Victors punished the vanquished—resentments were compounded by “stabbed in the back” mythology.  The League of Nations was born out of the ashes of the First World War.  Peace movements gained momentum from the widespread revulsion against the level and extent of the violence.

Just as there seems to be a bit of everything evident in the First World War, there seems to be equal diversity in how it has been documented, memorialized, assessed, and interpreted.  Within our holdings are contemporary materials from memoirs to training materials to propaganda.  There are post-war recollections and the initial lessons learned.  There are critiques of generalship and naval operations.  There are pamphlets on specific weapons and treatises on the evolution of military technology.  Military medicine was advanced from head to toe—neurosurgery to trench foot.

We invite you, as always, to explore our online holdings and to inquire about what items we have not yet completed cataloguing.  We believe the depth we have in all aspects of the First World War is impressive, and perhaps unexcelled.  This is also true of many of the other aspects of war, peace, and politics.  As always, we offer upon request a ten percent discount for all direct purchases—you can phone us, fax us, e-mail us, visit our website, or catch us in person when we are out and about.  We continue to invite your want lists and search request.  We also accept some research assignments (and our contributions have been acknowledged by authors in their publications).  Your comments, corrections, and suggestions are much appreciated.  As we close this column, we pause as we started to reflect not on the bibliographic product of war but on the cost of war.   In November, we commemorate the fallen, the injured, and those otherwise impacted on Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day.  What we have today we owe in part to the past sacrifices of others.  How we use what we have today is a foundation of the legacy we will leave to those who come after.    Let us hope that the blood that was shed from veins was not shed in vain, not then, not now, and not in the future.

When Eight Equals Ten, and When You Combine Kildare and McDreamy You Have a Pair of Dox.

October 2nd, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

October–how did the root of some words for ‘Eight” become the ‘Tenth” month? Blame it on the Italians?!! October is the tenth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars, and one of seven months with a length of 31 days. The eighth month in the old Roman calendar, October, retained its name (from the Latin “octo” meaning “eight”) after January and February were inserted into the calendar that had originally been created by the Romans. So, if they had put January and February at the end of the year, we would not have this conundrum or paradox.

So, the Romans doctored their calendar, as well as going a long way to create the medical arts and sciences. I am pretty sure that sacrificing roosters to the gods to address a medical condition falls into the “arts” category. On the science side, war has been an accelerating influence in the development and implementation of a range of medical improvements, from air evacuation to synthetic blood products. Not every development has been in vein.

We are now entering the month of October. The end is nearer–end of the year, of course. It is time for some to take stock. To help this process, we encourage you to take some of our stock–books, monographs, ephemera, pamphlets, government documents, technical reports, and even some odd-ball items that defy conventional description. We have not figured out yet how to catalogue it, but we have a Japanese ten cigarette pack that we were advised dates from the Second World War (offers welcome). We also have several items in Farsi (including one signed) which we are investigating (scans available upon request).

Since our last column, we have continued to add items to our holdings in essentially all areas. We have a large amount of material awaiting cataloguing, including many signed items, entertainment related, memoirs, holocaust-related, political, and military campaigns and training. Many of these items have been put online in response to your requests that we add items on specific topics, themes, and authors. Perhaps I gression? Gression–why whatever do you mean? Actually it is a seldom used word meaning to walk backward. But I digress, but hopefully do not regress so as to evoke an aggressive response from you our dear clients.

The point is, with over 50,000 items on line and more than that awaiting cataloguing, we serve you, as we have tried to do for nearly 40 years. We replace thousands of sold items with “restocks” and comparable items (putting online an inscribed item back-filling one that has sold, but clearly inscribed to a different person). We seek to keep up with new publications, but generally wait for such items to go out of print unless they are signed or otherwise distinguish themselves. We continue to delve into the recesses of our holding areas for 19th and early 20th century items that are no longer common in the marketplace. Unlike many of our colleagues, we will catalogue single issues of magazines (such as two issues from the early 1900s of The Outlook for which Theodore Roosevelt was a Contributing Editor), pamphlets, and ephemera.

We thank you, once again, for your wants–whether single items or lists, research projects, column suggestions, expansions and elaborations of our annotations (and occasional corrections), and of course purchases. We continue to offer, upon request, a ten per cent discount for all purchases made directly from us–through our website, by phone, by e-mail, by regular mail, and even by telepathy (if verified by PayPal).

We hope you have a wonderful October, with or without paradoxes.

Blow It Up! and Blow Me Down—Linguistic Versatility and the Ingenuity of the English Language

September 1st, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President

Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

“Explosion” and “amazement” both from the same word. One associated perhaps with a terrorist context and the other tied firmly to nautical origins. The uses and meanings of the word “blow” and associated phrases are potentially infinite. The phrase “blow this place” is not likely to refer to demolition, but rather to departure (perhaps rapidly). The versatility is also enhanced or enabled grammatically; in many of our books about espionage, an agent’s “cover is blown”—meaning both revealed and destroyed.

The lyric “blowing in the wind” conveyed the meaning of movement through the air, as well as the anti-war movement convulsing a nation. The protesters were trying to metaphorically strike a blow for peace; in other situations people strike blows for freedom and/or victory. Not to be snotty, but there is also the process of “blowing one’s nose.” Not exactly the same image or process of blowing in the wind.

Then again, the word “blow” can be an alias, a nickname, such as when it is used to refer to cocaine. It is perhaps an odd use, since the user typically would snort a line and would not dream of exhaling air through a nostril and thus distributing the white powder hither and yon.

So, where is this linguistic rumination taking us? Clearly to a discussion of books, pamphlets, ephemera, etc. generally in the areas of war, peace, and politics. We have a mind-blowing mass of opportunities. Since we last penned (or rather key-stroked) our monthly column, there have been substantial numbers of departures (thank you all) from our stock, and a slightly larger number of recent additions unevenly distributed across our major categories. Uneven does not mean we “blew it,” but rather reflects market factors of what items come our way and also the luck of the draw as we delve into boxes of stock opened for cataloguing. We continue to add signed and association copies in all areas and in deference to the election cycle have also added significantly to this area. Also, we were fortunate to come into possession of a number of items, including ephemera, associated with the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee—a key nuclear weapons complex site.

As always we are pleased to grant, upon request, a ten percent discount for all purchased made directly with us—whether from our website, by phone, by fax, by e-mail, or snail mail. We also invite inquiries, want lists, research and search requests, recommendations for future column topics, comments, corrections to our annotations (thankfully a rare occurrence), and suggestions.

Color Commentary—Cold War Coloring:  Political Adult Coloring Books of the Kennedy Era

August 1st, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

When we find a coloring book without any crayon marks, this does not mean that its contents are “off-color”! While not a dominant part of our online and pending cataloguing stock, we have acquired from time to time works of political cartoonists (including drawings made at an event held at the National Archives), gothic novels (i.e., comic books), and political/satirical illustrated works, including “adult political comic books.”
The noted publishing house, About Comics, has just released Cold War Coloring: Political Adult Coloring Books of the Kennedy Era. As our customers of long-standing are aware, we do not often carry items that are currently in print (unless our copies are early editions, autographed by the author, owned by a notable, or with some other interesting attribute). We do want to make you aware of this work because we were honored to assist in its “birthing.” As the Dedication notes, “special thanks” were given to Dr. Lynne Haims (Ph.D.) of Ground Zero Books, Ltd., “whose efforts above and beyond the call of duty helped make this book possible.” We appreciate the kind words from Mr. Nat Gertler, publisher of About Comics. This book is part of their Presidential Bookshelf project. The book includes the JFK Coloring Book, the New Frontier Comic Coloring Book, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev Coloring Book, Khrushchev’s Top Secret Coloring Book and The John Birch Coloring Book.

We also have some other political coloring books, including some related to the civil rights movement and the African-American experience. These may be incorporated in future products from About Comics. We encourage you to let us know of other comic book titles of interest or to communicate directly with the publisher. The Wikipedia entry for About Comics reads in part:

“About Comics is a publisher of comics and comics-related material founded in 1998 by Nat Gertler. According to Gertler, it is intended to be “[neither] a mainstream comics publisher, nor an alternative comics publisher.” The company has published works by such comics writers as Kurt Busiek and Charles M. Schulz, as well as producing books such as Panel One and Panel Two, featuring comic scripts written by a number of top comics writers. Several of About Comics’ bestsellers have been works that have been rediscovered and republished, including several little-known early comics work by Charles M. Schulz.”

Now back to our regularly scheduled self-promotion of Ground Zero Books, Ltd. We have significantly increased our titles available for browsing at this website, due to a long-planned database conversion and integration activity. There are thousands of additional items across the full spectrum of our holdings. Keywords and browsing conventions have remained the same. We hope you will spend some time trolling for hidden treasures. As always, we appreciate the opportunity to deal directly with you—whether by phone, e-mail, snail mail, or orders placed through the website. We are happy to grant, upon request, a ten percent discount for such direct purchases. As always, we appreciate your business, your insights, your recommendations, your want lists and search requests, and your suggestions for future columns.

May the summer not simmer too hot, nor the winds blow too hard, nor the rain lead us into precipitous behavior—we hope you all have a happy August.

Bio-Upgradable—Reflections on How Lives Spent in Service Elevate Us All

July 1st, 2016

Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

Perhaps “to be or not to be” is not the right question.  Rather, perhaps it is “if one is to be, how to be the best one can be?”  For a long period of time, History was thought best told through the mechanism of Great Men (and the occasional Woman).  Conventions in historiography change, and greater diversity in how one studied “His Story” evolved, and the Great Man focus shifted.

However, the value of a focus on lives well lived, lives which had an impact, lives that preserved things, lives that changed things, lives that innovated and lives that conserved, lives that recalled how things used to be—these have never entirely left the historical stage.  Rather, the focus has moved beyond Great Lives to a recognition that lives that matter and their impacts can be measured beyond military or political victories or defeats.

In doing a quick check of our database, we found that we had 969 titles appear when we searched on “biography,” 541 hits on the word “autobiography,”  84 responses to the word “reminiscences,” and  “memoir” resulted in 525 items being listed.  That is one way to explore our holdings.  Searching on “oral history” yielded 84 listings, and “lives” resulted in 321 titles.  While there is likely some duplication, there appear to be about 2000 titles currently available dealing with the lives of individuals (and perhaps small groups).   Contrast that with searching on “battle” and finding 1096 items listed, and searching on “peace” and finding 959 “hits”—if “hits” is an appropriate term to use with “peace.”   We are surrounded by evidence of lives lived by others that can inform our own lives and how we choose to live them.

What do these numbers tell us?  I could say “search me,” but that is how we derived the numbers to begin with.  If they tell us anything, it is that how lives are lived fascinates us individually and collectively.  The recounting of lives gives us what the writer seeks to impart and also enables us to infer or inject other meaning and relevance as we take their information in.  Recently the New York Times printed an obituary of David Duncan, an antiwar activist from the Vietnam War era, seven years after his death.  The delay was due to late arriving knowledge of his demise, and the publication was due to the Times’ fidelity to its criteria of marking the passage of individuals who had a significant impact on others.  Clearly this was news that was fit to print.  Kudos to the New York Times for not taking the easy way out and letting the opportunity pass and for clearly explaining to its readers its decision to report a seven year old death.  We at Ground Zero Books, Ltd., hope that in our own small ways we can contribute to the communication of lives well led, lives of impact in many spheres and endeavors, and lives that merit reflecting on.

We hope that you will browse through our holdings, using whatever keywords appeal to you.  We always appreciate your suggestions that we use additional keywords to help keep you, our customers, from getting “out of sorts.”  As always, we encourage you to ask us about items not found—we have thousands of items waiting cataloguing and listing online (some of which we can actually get to rather quickly).  We appreciate your business, your want lists, your search requests, your comments, corrections, and suggestions.  As is our practice, in appreciation of direct purchases from our website, by e-mail, by phone, by snail mail, and by telepathy we are pleased to provide a ten percent discount upon request.

Normally Normandy!—The Non-Beatles British (and American) Invasion of 70 Years Ago.

June 1st, 2016

R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

I can remember watching the Huntley-Brinkley Report back when television was broadcast only in black and white and screens were barely larger than today’s I-pads.  I recall the newscasts when the last Union soldier and the last Confederate veteran passed away.  Their last reunions have been decades past, and their passing truly marked an end of an era and the resurgence of legend as there were no eyewitnesses left to challenge the collective memory of those who came after.

In the past year, we saw the deaths of the last survivors of the First World War, in Canada, in Britain, and in Australia—just as we are about to commemorate in August the centenary of that global conflagration.  We still are able to watch, and to listen to, the remaining survivors of the Second World War—although with each passing day their numbers decrease.

This month will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, perhaps the most momentous single day of the Second World War—more significant than the June 20th attempt on Hitler’s life and arguably equal to or greater than either of the atomic bombings of Japan.

There are fewer survivors than a decade ago.  The 60th anniversary was sadly overshadowed by the decline and death of President Ronald Reagan—who had memorably recognized the Boys of Point de Hoc at the 40th anniversary commemoration.  Now not only are the heroes of the assault the stuff of legends, but President’s Reagan’s address ranks as one of the most elegant and eloquent battlefield tributes to sacrifice and glory since the Greeks honored the Spartan dead at Thermopylae.  Perhaps only Lincoln’s address at the cemetery at Gettysburg surpasses Reagan’s homage to “the Boys of Point du Hoc.”

This column, in its own small way, seeks to recognize, respect, and honor The Greatest Generation, which included our fathers.  Whether on land, sea, or air, battles were fought, boredom was fought, loneliness was fought, privations endured, and sacrifices made—loves, limbs, and lives were lost.  But the legacy that they have left us has not yet fully left us.  We should treasure the remaining veterans while we still have them.  We should strive to ensure that the collective memory that remains when they are gone is true to what they did, what they experienced, what they believed, and what they fought for.  Much of our collective memory is now based on their letters, their oral histories, their taped reminiscences, and their written words and published works.  We at Ground Zero Books, Ltd. are fortunate to have some many of these items—not only about D-Day or the Second World War, but about the quests of the valiant to ensure the triumph of good over evil since the fall of the Wall at Jericho to the liberation of Kuwait and beyond.  We hope that as you browse through our online listings at our website or as you ask about specific titles or topics in our “to be catalogued” stock, you will muse, or reflect, or just remember the humanity beneath the pages that help to enable us to enjoy reading and other freedoms today, and hopefully long into the future.

As is the case every month, we are happy to report that we continue to list more items on-line across a wide range of topics and formats.  We hope that you will enjoy exploring and experience the joy of discovery and the delight in making multiple purchases.  As is our practice, we will gladly grant a discount of ten percent for purchases made directly with us—either via the website, via e-mail, or via phone order.  We are not yet able to accept orders via drones but hope to start shortly after Amazon obtains Federal Aviation Administration approval of this technology and establishment of appropriate safety standards. Until then, we will seek to forgo aeronautical drones or tomes that appear also to drone on.

Thank you as always for your orders, your want lists, your search requests, your column ideas, and your general comments and suggestions.  Thank you in advance for your reactions to this column, which is a bit less whimsical and far more reflective than our normal monthly fare.  All we can say is that this is how we react normally to Normandy.

To ‘Dis’ or Not to ‘Dis’ and How to Dis-tinguish the Choice

May 2nd, 2016

May 1st, 2016
R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

As has been noted in previous columns, the English language is versatile,
flexible, evolving, and often seemingly incomprehensible. One of the
recent additions to the language is the concept of “dissing” or of
disrespecting. This observation led to a consideration of how often, in what ways, and
sometimes how unbalanced the use of the “dis” prefix can be. Unbalanced?
Yes, considered how often there is dis-cussion of dis-gruntled feelings
but when was the last time you read or heard about a ‘gruntled’ employee?
Or for that matter, how often ‘cussion’ is dis-cussed as opposed to
discussion?

Now, as you proceed to read the rest of this column, we hope that you are
now, and will be at the end, fully gruntled.
Words can have specific as well as general associations—and for us, there
is interest in associating such words with one or more of our specialties
in War, Peace, or Politics. “Dis” originally was a Latin prefix meaning “
apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” “lack”, “removal,” or having a
negative, or intensive, reversing force. It was also the name of the
ruler of the underworld in ancient Roman belief. In more modern times DIS is
the short form reference to the Disney Channel (a cable television channel).

In terms of Politics, words like distrust (as oppose to “Trust Ted/Trusted”),
disgrace (like having your name in the DC Madam’s black book, but not
necessarily when associated with a Bimbo eruption), and distinct as in a
policy position different from those of others (such as suggesting the NATO
was obsolete or Japan should develop its own nuclear arsenal).
Then we can consider Peace, which we all know can be disturbed. I am not
certain that there are occasions when the Peace is either partially or
fully “turbed,” although enthusiasm for certain peace proposals can be curbed.
Peace is not solely the province of the distaff side of the human race,
but there is a strong affinity for peace among those who nurture. There can
be peaceful discourse as well as discourse on peace—and perhaps then the
course of some events could be altered. Some arguments about peace, arms
control, and other topics can be both ingenious and disingenuous. Often the
road to peace is long in terms of time and other factors, but though it can
take years, proponents try to go the distance. They know when to present
their stance and to take a stand or perhaps to distort their position to
advance toward their long term objective.

Advancing toward an objective is one of the aspects of War (as well as
politics and peace). The cost of war can be the disfigurement of some of the
wounded, or perhaps their dismemberment. In olden days (up to the Japanese
committing Hari Kari) some of the injured were disemboweled. War by its
very nature is the ultimate disagreement. Attacks that are disjointed often
fail. In after action reports, the causes of both successes and failures can
be discerned. The reasons for failures can be disaggregated from the
entire battle assessment and highlight what should be the most cause for
con-cern. On the battlefield, one side may seek to disgorge the fruits of
conquest from their adversary. Such fruits would not often be found in gorges,
caverns, or canyons. Often after a battle some survivors were distraught.

This column has sought to dis-play the versatility even of prefixes.
Hopefully we have not pre-sumed too much on your linguistic interests. We
would be dis-appointed if you were dis-mayed (especially since this is our May
column).

We end this column as we normally to, with thanks to all for your
purchases, want lists, search requests, and essay suggestions. We are happy to
grant a ten percent discount upon request for purchases from our website, by
phone at 301-585-1471, and via e-mail (gzbooksltd@aol.com
(gzbooksltd@aol.com) ).

We look forward to hearing from you. And, as always, thank you.

What April Remembrances Tell Us About War, Peace, and Politics

April 1st, 2016

April 1st, 2016
R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.
I was watching television the other night, and a Match.com commercial cameon. It was about getting not only a date, but the right date, perhaps a date that would endure in the memory of a couple, or a family, or a community. Certainly I was not thinking about a “date that would live in infamy” [clearly not the month to make that connection]. As my mind wandered aimfully throughout the nooks and crannies of my cerebral territories, I found that April as a month was woefully underrepresented in terms of memorable dates, or at least dates I could remember. April 1st was easy; in additional to its traditional point of reference it is also my granddaughter’s birthday. Then there is April 15th—and it is not too taxing to understand why that sticks if not in the memory then in the craw… Second tier recollections, at least for United Staters (apparently Americans is out of vogue if used to only refer to inhabitants of a country between Canada and Mexico) are the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court House (the 9th) and the shooting of Abraham Lincoln—shot on the 14th, died on the 15th.

So, the purpose of this column is to FINALLY give April dates greater recognition, especially in terms of war, peace, and politics. In doing research for this topic, I came to a conclusion as to why April might be so underrepresented—dates can be schizophrenic. Take for example April 10th. In 1942 it was the day the Bataan Death March started. That was a horrific example of man’s inhumanity, racism, war crimes, and ultimately of survival. Three years later, half a world away, the Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated. This was another horrific example of man’s inhumanity, racism, war crimes, and ultimately of survival, but rather than signifying the start of torment, it marked the starting point of liberation, revulsion against such inhumanity and racism, and recognition of war crimes and a spur to the creation of the Nuremberg International Tribunals that established very clearly the principle that the community of nations collectively could hold individual nations, and their individual leaders, accountable for such heinous acts.

Let’s backtrack to April 4th. It has special meaning for human rights. In 1802, April 4th, as we all no doubt remember, was when Dorothea Dix was born. She was an early leader not just of women’s rights, but human rights, and (as head of the nurses during the American Civil War) a leader in humanitarian assistance. Fast forward to 1968 and rather than a life commencing, on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, a life was extinguished when a sniper’s bullet felled Martin Luther King, Jr. Is the 4th a date of celebration or mourning? It can be, and should be, both. Having addressed war and peace, let us see if this same duality holds for dates relevant to politics. The date of April 8th comes to mind. Recall that heady feeling among the populace in the halcyon era before the outbreak of war in Europe. The last strife-free year was 1913. Have you figured it out? Of course, it was the date when the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, taking the power to name Senators away from State legislatures and turning this authority over to the people (or manly to males who had the right to vote—but we will not go there at this time). What can contrast with this! How about a President exceeding his authority, taking near dictatorial action which is ultimately declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court. Who was that President and what was that action? Steel yourself to learn the answer, which follows the end of this sentence! President Harry S. Truman seized control of America’s steel mills to prevent a shutdown by strikers. However, on April 29th, the seizure was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court. Workers immediately began a strike lasting 53 days, ending it when they received a 16-cents per-hour wage increase and additional benefits. A fitting end to the crisis, a fitting end to the month of April, and in terms of examples, not a bad action to begin to bring this column to its close.

Since this column sought to break the ice on April dates to remember, let us end with a singular event, that has excited our imagination, challenged our technology, and reaffirmed our values, such as transportation safety. Did that last phrase give you a sinking feeling? That event, on April 15, 1912 of course is when, in the icy waters off Newfoundland, the luxury liner Titanic with 2,224 persons on board sank at 2:27 a.m. after striking an iceberg about midnight. Over 1,500 persons were lost while 700 were rescued by the liner Carpathia which arrived about two hours after Titanic went down. The world learned much about ship to ship communications, standardizing emergency communications, and the benefits of having enough life-boats for all passengers from that tragedy. In addition, it seems to have for each succeeding generations box-office bonanzas as the story is remembered, retold, and reinterpreted. And there were a fair number of books and pamphlets produced over the years as well.

April is, in essence, a month of seasonal duality, transitioning between winter and spring. There is no duality in terms of how Ground Zero Books, Ltd., appreciates you, our clients, our customers, our supporters, our commentators, or recommenders, and at times our conscience. We always appreciate your suggestions for topics for future columns, your want lists and search topics, corrections, and comments. As is our custom, we are happy to grant a ten per cent discount upon request for orders placed directly with us—by our website, by phone, by e-mail, by encounter while walking in the city, or by telepathy.

Peroration on Piration

March 1st, 2016

March 1st, 2016
R. Alan Lewis, President
Ground Zero Books, Ltd.

We had a major snowstorm on the East Coast in late January—three feet even if it is light powder is a lot of snow to deal with—and this event ultimately provided the inspiration for this column.
First, let me dispel any confusion on your, dear reader’s, part. While a peroration is often used to describe the ending of a speech or oration, it is also a “highly rhetorical creation” and a noun denoting a communicative process and context.  It is in the latter sense that this word is being used for this column.  We are not ending this column as we start it; rather we are starting it with an end in mind.  Which brings us back to the term “inspiration.”  We were inspired to consider the importance of the word fragment “piration” to our language, our culture, and our lives.
First and foremost, “piration” has nothing to do with Pirates, although it would be interesting to suggest it could connote a mythical Pirate Nation.  But let us focus on actual words—ones that can be found in dictionaries, thesaurus, and other works by lovers of lex.  We want this to be a memorable column—that is our aspiration.  We worked hard on this column, fingers flying over the keys, using multiple screens to search terms in various databases, and in the end having our brow drenched in perspiration.  Our vigorous activities caused a marked increase in our respiration. Our efforts were methodical and not frantic, and characterized by intensity and not by desperation!

Piration has evolved into terms that do not seem to be actual words.  One can google Fitspiration and land on a fitness website.  Then there is Yinzpiration which is a term used on a site dedicated to the challenge of interviewing 100 Pittsburghers.  I tried to figure out the motivation of this second one but gave up in exasperation.

Which brings us back to inspiration.  Since our last column there have been substantial changes to our holdings.  Many items have succumbed to the gravitational pull of collectors, researchers, and institutions.  This has been counterbalanced by an influx of new items across the spectrum of our holdings, especially signed items, military studies, pamphlets, and technical and military manuals.  We continue to add breadth and depth in regional studies, political works, and the current international bane—terrorism.  We hope you will browse through our website and find items that challenge, intrigue, and delight you.

As always, we are happy upon request to grant a 10 per cent discount for direct purchases through our website, through the snail-mail, by e-mail, and by phone (cell or land-line!).  We also very much appreciate the opportunity to search for items requested or to provide lists of items of possible interest when asked about specific authors, genre, and topics of interest.  Thank you always for your business, your comments, and your suggestions.  As we close, and this part meets the other definition of peroration, we hope that within our holdings you will find inspiration and not exasperation, that you will search without raising perspiration or changing your rate of respiration, and that you will complete your efforts without any sense of desperation or exasperation.