Most of us have heard some of the big stats: 18 of the 19 warmest years on record have come since the year 2000. This past week’s CO2 measurement at Mauna Loa at 415 parts per million is the highest such reading in at least 800,000 years (and possibly as much as 3 million years). An article in National Geographic described the Greenland ice melt, noting “between 2002 and 2016, Greenland lost approximately 280 billion tons of ice per year. This average annual ice melt is enough to cover the entire states of Florida and New York hip deep in meltwater, as well as drowning Washington, D.C. and one or two other small states.” And of course there’s far more ice in Antarctica than Greenland – and it’s starting to melt rapidly too. But as grim as the sea level rise numbers are, David Wallace-Wells points out that what climate change will bring “…is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await–food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.” This is not a lengthy or technical book, but it is emotionally difficult to read. Despite that, I believe this is an incredibly important book that should be widely read. I’m glad I did.
I read the Harper’s Bazaar article that served as the basis for this book and it really hit home for me. Booklist’s review captures very well the essence of her work: “In September 2017, Hartley wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar about the invisible maintenance and managerial tasks women are expected to perform in and out of the home. The piece went viral, and here Hartley expands it to consider how instead of remaining a woman’s burden, emotional labor may offer a path to gender equality. Hartley’s prose soars when she shares stories from her own life balancing the responsibilities of a freelance writer, a wife, and Christian mother of three. She acknowledges her husband’s contributions he cooks and does the dishes but observes a profound imbalance in the cultural tendency to give men extra credit for doing such work while women get no credit at all. Children grow up watching their mothers manage the home, and so the gendered cycle continues. Female readers will undoubtedly relate to the many first-person anecdotes of women obliviously or resentfully doing the draining work of emotional labor. But this is a book for men, too. To break the cycle, men need to step up to the plate. And then put it in the dishwasher.” In the unlikely event my wife ever reads this blog, I just want to state for the record that I’m trying to do better!
On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s greatest battle by Hampton Sides
Once again, our guest reviewer today is the library’s very own ex-Marine, Gene Grave. Here’s what he had to say about On Desperate Ground:
Hampton Sides is an author who hails from Tennessee and currently resides in New Mexico with his family. Sides received a BA in history from Yale University which helps explain his interest in writing historical books such as On Desperate Ground. Other books written by Sides include In the Kingdom of Ice, Hellhound On His Trail, Blood and Thunder, and Ghost Soldiers.
For you history buffs, On Desperate Ground deals with the battles of the Chosin Reservoir area and events leading up to the battle. As many note, the Chosin Reservoir battle was the largest, most written about battle of the ‘forgotten war’ – the Korean conflict/war. Unlike several books written on the battle that deal solely with the different units and movements, which are interesting, Sides gives some political background to the conflict and personal stories of some of the combatants. I’ve read other books dealing with WWII and the Korean war that cover General MacArthur but Sides goes into further depth which highlights both General MacArthur’s brilliance and idiosyncrasies that lead to the US and UN forces being ‘surprised’ by the Chinese involvement at Chosin Reservoir.
On the political side, Sides went into some of the events that distracted the US politicians during this time (like the assassination attempt on President Truman) and the President’s reliance on General MacArthur and his entourage’s thoughts on what was happening.
On Desperate Ground was a well written book, though as in several other books and articles on the subject that I’ve read, the Army’s story was on the light side as to what happened and the reasons for it.
As history has shown of the battle, General Smith and the Marine 1st Division carried the day and kept the battle from being a disaster through their training and determination-but as those who know me will agree, I am biased on the matter.