Home Fires

Home Fires - Donald Katz My wife doesn't like non-ficiton and I don't like fiction. This audio book was the perfect compromise for us because it reads as good as any fiction book, but also tells the story about America from 1945 to 1993. It's a very good way for my wife to understand the quotidian history of America during that time period in the guise of marvelous story telling.

The author takes the story within one family and relates the current events to what's happening at the time. For example, Debbie Reynolds losing Eddie Fisher to Liz had meaning to the country and is explained by the biography of the family.

The book really excelled during the first half. Where Sid (the WW II) vet and his wife, Eve, are the main characters. The experiences they had and the things they struggled with are experiences that were endured by many Americans during that time.

A good biography needs to love the characters he is writing about. The author does that to a fault. Even when one of the sons liberates gold filing from a pile of what he called junk to sell later at the gold shop, the author defends the action by saying the gold was in a junk pile (yeah right, I'm gonna throw gold away). It's good to love your characters, but sometimes the character might be doing wrong.

The book really captures all the woo and pseudo-belief systems that were present during that time period (such as EST, gurus, and other psychic crap) and how the characters would drift in and out of such systems. The author will even appeal to 'recovery memories' as real (wiki tells me in general they are highly suspect). He does write in the 90s and I'm looking at it with today's skeptical eyes. That's a strength of the book. The author will always relate the psycho-babble to how some current article or book of the time. Totally legit since that's how they believed in those days.

Overall, this book is a marvelous way for people like my wife who get bored by history books, but still wants to know about history. I enjoyed the book too because it provided a real peek into a family who I cared about, and at the same time I got to learn a lot about the time period, and, in particular, how much neo-Freudian thought permeated the time period even in 1995.