Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

26 January

Book of the day

holocaustThe Holocaust: A New History
Laurence Rees
(UK: Viking, 2017; USA: PublicAffairs, 2017)

This landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the Holocaust happen?

Laurence Rees has spent twenty-five years meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. Now, in his magnum opus, he combines their enthralling eyewitness testimony, a large amount of which has never been published before, with the latest academic research to create the first accessible and authoritative account of the Holocaust in more than three decades.

This is a new history of the Holocaust in three ways. First, and most importantly, Rees has created a gripping narrative that that contains a large amount of testimony that has never been published before. Second, he places this powerful interview material in the context of an examination of the decision making process of the Nazi state, and in the process reveals the series of escalations that cumulatively created the horror. Third, Rees covers all those across Europe who participated in the deaths, and he argues that whilst hatred of the Jews was always at the epicentre of Nazi thinking, what happened cannot be fully understood without considering the murder of the Jews alongside plans to kill millions of non-Jews, including homosexuals, ‘Gypsies’ and the disabled.

Through a chronological, intensely readable narrative, featuring enthralling eyewitness testimony and the latest academic research, this is a compelling new account of the worst crime in history.

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine, or via Amazon (The Holocaust: A New History)
Available in the USA via Amazon ( The Holocaust: A New History)

readers-1-sunFacts of the day

26 January

1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and British colonists hoist the Union Flag at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, on the arrival of the first convict ships from the UK. This date is now celebrated as Australia Day, although indigenous Aboriginal people saw the anniversary as ‘Invasion Day’.

There is a current political debate about making Australia Day more inclusive by moving the public holiday to a neutral date, such as 1 March, to mark the date in 1901 when the Commonwealth government took over many of the functions of the former colonies.

New Year

A 1951 study by sociologist Isidor Thorner found that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions was more common in countries with a strong Protestant influence. For example,  in 1951, New Year’s resolutions were thought of as a ‘tradition’ in countries like Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and South Africa. Meanwhile, Latin American, Scandinavian, Asian and Eastern European countries didn’t recognise the tradition.


Evelyn Waugh’s first wife’s name was also Evelyn. They were known as ‘He-Evelyn’ and ‘She-Evelyn’.

Writers birthdays

1541 Florent Chrestien (France)
1715 Claude Adrien Helvétius (France)
1781 Ludwig Achim von Arnim (Germany)
1831 Mary Mapes Dodge (USA)
1871 Samuel Hopkins Adams (USA)
1879 Lode Baekelmans (Belgium)
1891 Ilya Ehrenburg (Ukraine)
1902 Menno ter Braak (The Netherlands)
1902 Romney Brent (Mexico)
1914 Kaye Webb (UK)
1918 Philip José Farmer (USA)
1926 José María Pacheco (Spain)
1946 Christopher Hampton (UK)
1949 Jonathan Carroll (USA)
1974 Shannon Hale (USA)

Jokes of the day

Q: What does a cloud with an itchy rash do?
A: Finds the nearest skyscraper

Cartoon: Ron Piraro, Struggling authors, CartoonStock

Quote of the day

Chloe Thurlow, The Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomena: ‘Between the lines of every book the writer reveals their own secrets.’