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Celebrating the Life

The Great Escape Review

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The Great Escape Review
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The film, The Great Escape, is a WWII movie centered on a group of Ally POWs that
are trying to break out of a Nazi prison camp in Germany. It is based on the true
story of the elaborate escape plans that the Ally soldiers came up with during the
years spent in the camps. Most of these soldiers are of the Royal Air Force with a
few Americans and various others. The Germans had moved all of the worst soldiers
and escape artists to Stalag Luft III.

Here the prisoners had an entire organization
set up to fool the Germans. Their objective was to aggravate the Germans and attempt
escape. Some soldiers were given the task of security, where they would use an
intelligent alert system to warn others of German patrols. Others were tasked with
making clothing and paperwork to use once out of the prison. Another job was the
digging--soldiers tunneled under ground and out of the camp. Their original plan was
to have 250 men escape through the tunnels in one night. Once out they would spread
out and try to flee the country using their forged documents. Only 76 were able to
escape through the tunnel before the escape attempt was discovered. 50 of the men
who had escaped and been recaptured were murdered. Only 3 men successfully escaped
Germany. All of the others were sent back to Stalag.

Throughout the movie there are
two characters that are especially memorable. Henley, AKA “the Scrounger”, played by
James Garner and Hilts, AKA “the Cooler King”, played by Steve McQueen. Both Henley
and Hilts are American and have an arrogant and rebellious attitude, although they
are fundamentally different. Henley is more of a sweet talker and con man, while
Hilts is sort of a prankster and troublemaker. Henley’s job is to “scrounge” up
items that everyone needs. He does this by bribing guards, picking pockets, and at
one point causing a distraction and stealing parts off of a German truck to use for
pick axes. Hilts has one of the most memorable motorcycle scenes of all time. Once
he escapes he steals a motorcycle and uniform from a German soldier and leads them
on a huge chase. Perhaps most memorable is when he jumps a barbwire fence and tries
to flee to safety. He is given the nickname “the Cooler King” because of his
frequent punishment of being sent to the cooler. The cooler is a solitary
confinement where Hilts spends much of his time throwing a baseball against the
wall. He is sent to the cooler many times for his escape attempts and disrespectful
behavior. Every time he goes, he is given a ball and glove from a friend and adds
humor as he is back in his cell, throwing his baseball to himself. Their comic
relief is very much welcomed after sad scenes of death and adds a much lighter tone
to the movie.

The Great Escape is an excellent film about the rebellious attitude
and enduring spirit of Ally POWs in WWII. The fact that it is based on a true story
makes the movie even better. Knowing that POWs gave the Germans a hard time and
tried until death to escape leaves the audience with a smile and a sense of
satisfaction and sympathy.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
John Sturgess
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Books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
55491926
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Blake Brown
Email: 
nworbekalb@yahoo.com
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The Age of Gold : the California Gold Rush and the New American Dream

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The Age of Gold : the California Gold Rush and the New American Dream
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This is a pioneering book that takes the California Gold Rush into a national
perspective. Not local history but the integration of the Golden State into the
fiber of American history. Well done and highly recommended.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Brands, H. W.
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
50599905
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Longhorn Reviewer
University of Texas Affiliation: 
undergrad
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A strange eventful history : the dramatic lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and their remarkable families

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A strange eventful history : the dramatic lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and their remarkable families
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From the 9/6/08 Times review by Michael Arditti: “He [Holroyd] creates a saga in
which the glories of an older generation are dissipated by children.”

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Holroyd, Michael
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
243544503
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Beth
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staff
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Christian Lacroix : histoires de mode

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Christian Lacroix : histoires de mode
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Quoting Eddy in the BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous, “Lacroix, darling."

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Christian Lacroix
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
165407866
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Beth
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The Saga of Billy the Kid

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The Saga of Billy the Kid
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Billy the Kid is the subject of many books and movies. Bob Dylan, called by one
of our English faculty “the American Homer,” wrote the music for one of movies.
Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, wrote a book of poems and vignettes
in Billy’s stead. I doubt our interest in Billy would have thrived so if not for
Burns’ book, published in 1926 and based on accounts of people living then who had
known Billy. Burns creates such a sympathetic character and tells the story so well,
not wanting to go to sleep with Billy’s end on my mind, I had to stop reading just
before the death scene.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Burns, Walter Noble
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
1314603
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Janice Duff
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Los comerciantes de Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, 1920-1980

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Los comerciantes de Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, 1920-1980
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Interesting book with lots of information about the time period and interpersonal
relationships/dynamics between influential families in a typical Mexican
town.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Steffen, Cristina
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
49548680
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Longhorn Reviewer
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undergrad
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The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket

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The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket
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The story starts in medieval Japan with the development of proto sushi which is
whole fish pressed on top of rice in a specially designed weighted box through the
development of sushi rice and finally to how sushi developed in Japan after World
War II. Once you have this background the story moves to the United States. The
author delves into how sushi became an American food item now sold in grocery stores
across the country. Corson shows that it was the development of sushi schools in
California that made it possible for sushi chiefs to be trained more quickly than in
Japan. These schools also lead to sushi innovations that would eventually travel
back to Japan—the inside out roll being a classic example. Truly an American tale of
taking something very foreign and making it American.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Corson, Trevor
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
76939924
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Susan Ardis
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staff
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Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

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Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
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The best parts of this book are the chapters on the development of string.
Barber’s hypothesis is the ability to make string is an important precursor to the
development of civilization. Her point is that once people can make string, then
they can tie things together. This means you can make rope and rope can be used to
tether an animal or child, it can be used to make fishing lines, fishnets, bags and
just as importantly you can use string to carry items on your back. Once you can
carry loads then you can begin to move goods. And once you can do these things you
are on track to make coiled pottery and weave. What interested me the most was the
description of how easy it is to make string. The easiest way is to use already
existing vines, the second step according to Ms Barber is to take plant fibers and
roll them on your leg to make an every expanding string. Rope is merely a number of
strings put together. The evidence cited in this book is pottery and wall paintings,
since most fabric doesn’t survive. Barber examined thousands of early pots and
paintings looking for evidence of early cloth making.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Barber, E. J. W.
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
29595722
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Susan Ardis
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Tobacco: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World

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Tobacco: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World
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I’m not one for conspiracy theories but this was a fascinating book. I never
would have thought that tobacco growing and selling played such an important part of
our history. One factoid tells the tale: when Benjamin Franklin was sent to London
to negotiate a peace treaty between Great Britain and the future United States he
was also given the task of negotiating the loans George Washington and Thomas
Jefferson owned to merchants in England on their tobacco holdings. This book is
essentially about how drawing smoke from a plant grew from a ceremonial activity in
the new world to a social activity that spread around the world. It is now hard to
find a culture where tobacco smoking is not evident. The subtitle tells it all – “a
cultural history of how an exotic plant seduced civilization.” The story is
fascinating and the book is very well written.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Gately, Iain
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books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
48221451
Who Am I
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Susan Ardis
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staff
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The Book of Margery Kempe: The Autobiography of the Madwoman of God

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The Book of Margery Kempe: The Autobiography of the Madwoman of God
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Who would have thought that the first known biography in English would be written
by a woman, brewery owner, Christian mystic, and mother of 14 named Margery Kempe.
Margery was illiterate so she dictated her biography to a scribe between 1436 and
1438. Her biography begins with her conversion experience which was heralded by a
vision of Christ in her bedroom one night. The story then follows Margery through
pilgrimages across Europe and the Holy Land. She also tells about her heresy trial
in England and her burgeoning mystical life. After the trial the judge gave her a
piece of paper saying that she was not a heretic. Margery used this piece of paper
many many times when people complained to their local religious leaders about her
loud crying, laughing and preaching. His opinion, like most of her contemporaries
seemed to be that she was she was religiously insane. He was also surprised that she
followed Catholic dogma exactly. She never deviated from the church’s teaching even
when she was ranting and raving.

The book is amazingly lively. You get insight into
the personality of a woman who thought Jesus told her to wear white, live apart from
her husband and give voice to her religious opinions loudly and continually. Her
neighbors, her child and her husband complained regularly about her religious
activities. The book gives dramatic accounts of every day experiences, in Margery’s
home town, in many English regions, and as far away as Brandenburg, Rome and
Jerusalem. Just reading about how she traveled in Europe and how she got to
Jerusalem is illuminating.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Kempe, Margery
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Books
OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
32627582
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Your Name (Optional): 
Susan Ardis
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