Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March Madness: Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

I'm not going to lie, Elizabeth Wein was one of the authors I emailed that I was hoping against all hope would want to participate! She is one of my favorites, and although I've only read Code Name Verity, I know I'm going to love the rest of her books. So I'm incredibly thankful for blogging and the opportunity it has given me to be able to interact with an author I admire. Not only is Elizabeth one of the sweetest people, but she also had a lot going on and STILL wanted to participate because she is just that amazing. So please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth as she tells us the top ten places in history she'd love to visit! And check below for an international giveaway for her newest book. :)

MEET THE BOOK!

Top Ten Places in History You'd Like to Go
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” This resonant quotation is the first sentence of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-Between, which opens with the viewpoint character looking back on his youth. I’ve always felt that I would find a trip to the past a bit like being in a foreign country – a place where familiar foods tasted slightly different, familiar languages were spoken with slightly strange accents and expressions, and where you didn’t quite know how to behave in familiar situations. You think you know all about driving a car, but how in the world do you use a choke or a crank start? It would be just as strange and nerve-racking as driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time.

But I love travelling, and I think I’d like to travel across distances counted in years as much as I like to travel across distances counted in miles. So here are a few places that would be must-sees on my historical itinerary. I’m not going to rank them: they’re simply in the order I thought of them.

• South Dakota in the 1880s, as the railways were being built. This is usually my number one answer to the question, “What historical era would you like to visit?” I’m well aware of the evils of Manifest Destiny, but I can’t help longing to see the American prairies before their native flora, fauna, and peoples were trampled and dispersed, and to watch the first trains steam through.

• Britain – specifically Scotland -  in World War II. I’d like to experience my World War II fascination first hand, with the added benefit of seeing the town I live in when it was still a thriving farmland auction center and bustling port.

• 1920s Paris. I went on a binge of re-reading F Scott Fitzgerald’s novels last year, along with Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and in the spirit of nostalgia I would love to experience a little of that wonderful mix of literary creativity and the Jazz Age. I think I’d have to be a younger person than I am now to fully appreciate the cocktails. 

• 1920s Pennsylvania. (Do you sense a theme?) Many of the places in history that I’d like to see are places that I’m familiar with in the present. I’d like to see the small town and the Pennsylvania countryside where I grew up, but during the time when my grandmother was growing up there. I’d like to have known those places when horses still pulled sleighs in winter, before the strip malls swallowed up the corn fields. I’d like to drive across Pennsylvania on the Lincoln Highway when it was nearly a new route, when the main highways went right through the center of town, before the interstates…

• Roman Britain. The Romans had central heating and running water in Britain 1800 years ago, and it took us about 1500 years to get these modern conveniences back after the Romans left… The books of Rosemary Sutcliff, particularly Eagle of the Ninth, were my introduction to this time and place. My first book, The Winter Prince, is based on Arthurian legend and is set in Britain about a hundred years after the Romans left, but I’d like to visit a little earlier than that, so I could take advantage of their extensively maintained road network and fantastic public baths.

• Pennsylvania in about 1500. Going back in time a little further in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, I’d like to see the northeast of North America before it was deforested. I’d like to see the Susquehanna River when it was a main thoroughfare for the people who lived in and managed that forest. I’d like to see pre-colonial Eastern White Pine trees. They reportedly grew to heights of 230 feet (70 meters) and reached diameters of eight feet across. In about a hundred and fifty years, we managed to chop down 99 percent of native Eastern White Pine forest in North America. WOW, WE’RE NINJA. They were gone by the time my grandmother was born in 1916.

• Aksum. This African civilization thrived between about 100 and 940 AD. The kingdom was centered in what is now modern Ethiopia and Eritrea. My second book, A Coalition of Lions, and the three books that followed it, are all set in Aksum in the middle of the 6th century AD. This kingdom had its own complex coinage and written alphabet, traded extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East, and was referred to as one of four great world civilizations at the time. It was my interest in Aksum that inspired me to write my latest novel, Black Dove, White Raven, which is set in Ethiopia in 1935. The capital of the kingdom, the city of Aksum, still exists, and is the holy city of Ethiopia, which became Christian in about 325 AD. I’ve visited the present city but would love to see it in its heyday in the 6th century, preferably before the Justinianic Plague… 

• Venice some time during the 13th century, when it was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. Quite frankly, I’d visit Venice any time. But it would be cool to see it in its independent heyday.

• China during the 1946-1949 Civil War. Maybe I could be a war correspondent there if you promise me I will get out alive? My mother was fascinated with this period and with Maoist Communism, and as a very small girl one of my first heroines was Liu Hulan (I had a picture book about her), who was executed as a spy at the age of 14. I don’t think I ever quite got over Liu Hulan’s heroism. I have a less romantic view of all these events now than I did when was a pre-teen, and I’d be interested in observing, for myself, the reality of this massive people’s revolution.

• 1960s New York City. Wait, I DID experience New York in the 1960s! But I was three years old when we left. I’d like to go back to East Harlem, where my parents lived from 1963 to 1968, as an adult. I’d like to be able to appreciate the Civil Rights Movement as my parents experienced it, to campaign for Robert Kennedy and rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to have access to Lewis Michaux’s African National Memorial Bookstore, to understand what was going on and help to make it happen.

Oh wait – I can still do that. 

I hope these glimpses into the past inspire some of you to find out more. Where would you like to go?


I would like to go to ALL THE PLACES! No, but seriously, I love history and there are so many places I'd love to time travel back to. Most especially the Civil War era and Victorian London. Also Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt. I mean, the list could go on, so I'll stop there. :P

*****

And thanks to Elizabeth's generosity, I have a giveaway for y'all! One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of Black Dove, White Raven. And guess what? This is international! :)

20 comments:

  1. Wow, this is HARD. Um, is it weird and wrong to say Europe during the plague? I am curious, okay. Also, I AM FROM PENNSYLVANIA TOO! (After creeping your bio, I live in NEPA, so only about an hour and a half from Harrisburg.)

    Okay, the question at hand. After the plague, because I want to go. I'd pick a REALLY old time period, like in Kimberley Griffiths Little's Forbidden? That would just be so crazy, in the desert, so foreign a concept!

    Probably somewhere in WWII. My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and my dad has an endless fascination with it. Now, I don't want to go THERE, I mean, no thanks, I think I'd be terrible in combat, but maybe somewhere safer, like the US.

    And I also want to go back to like, right around the time I was born. Because that would just be crazy, no? And then, if we have time, maybe the future, just to see what those guys are up to?

    I love this post. That is all. Thank you for sharing, Holly and Elizabeth!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. Ooh, Europe during the plague! No, not weird. That'd be awesome (I'm curious too).

      I don't know what time period Forbidden is in, but sure. And yessss to WWII!! Love your answers, Shannon. :)

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  2. Holy cow. So many places and times I never even THOUGHT of visiting. How am I going to match that list?

    Honestly, I think I'd travel back for people more than for places.

    - I'd hop all around through Biblical times to see events with my own eyes and meet people I've read about all my life. (Wait, I lied. Once place I WOULD go to for the place rather than the people would be way way back to see a real live dinosaur.)

    - I'd go to Ocala, Florida in the 1980s to watch my parents fall in love when they were my age. (And, if I had the guarantee that they'd forget and nothing would change, I'd love to be able to talk to them and tell them their life story just to see the shock on their faces.)

    - I'd go meet Amelia Earheart and have her take me for a ride.

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    1. Riiiight? I never thought of visiting them either! Gosh, so many places to visit and see.

      "I'd go meet Amelia Earheart and have her take me for a ride." <--YES YES YES. :D

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  3. I second the maritime republics. Happily, one of the highlights can still be experienced today: Siena during the Palio!

    While there, I'd pop across the Mediterranean to experience the Islamic Golden Age. Science, mathematics, etc. Anywhere in the 13th century that wasn't Europe, essentially.

    Etruria. The Etruscans always seem like they were having a good time. No wonder they were conquered by the Romans.

    Great Zimbabwe, the city so awesome colonists refused to believe it was built by black people.

    Polynesia during the expansion. Sail the high seas! Discover new lands!

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    1. So many wonderful time periods!! Wouldn't it be just amazing to visit them all? :)

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  4. I would like to go back to the 1840s in New England America.

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    1. So would I!! Actually, I'd love to check out the Civil War and The Revolutionary War. I want to see America before it became the country it is now.

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  5. THIS IS WHY I LOVE PLAYING ASSASSIN'S CREED (because History. I climbed all the buildings in Italy. ALL OF THEM, and then I played around in Boston in the 1700s, and then Jerusalem during the Crusades. It was great. I'm such a video game nerd, but seriously there's so much history and story behind it)

    ANYWAYS. ELIZABETH WEIN <3 I really can't wait to read Black Dove White Raven! And I would visit all those places you mentioned as well! But for me personally, I would like to visit Egypt when it was thriving (I don't know the dates). I've always been fascinated by the culture and mythology.

    Lovely post! <3

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    1. hahaha, I started playing the Boston Assassin's Creed not too long ago! (I think little bro was pissing me off, so I stopped. And also I was sick of not being able to kill people).

      And yesss to Egypt!! I've always been fascinated by the culture and mythology too. It'd be wonderful to see firsthand. :)

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  6. Polynesia! Zimbabwe! Biblical times! Egypt! THE DINOSAURS. 0_o

    WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THESE THINGS

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    1. TOO MANY PLACES AND TIME PERIODS TO THINK OF!

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  7. maybe 1800s England

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    1. is that the Victorian era? I would love to visit that time period too!

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  8. I'd like to go back to the Imperial Japan era!!! It sounds so fascinating.

    This is another book I'm excited for. Elizabeth Wein is one of the few authors who can make bawl my eyes out. I just finished Rose Under Fire about a month ago and it was AWESOME!

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    1. JAPAN!! GAH. I'm forgetting about all of these. Haha. Yay, so glad to hear you loved Rose Under Fire! I still need to read that one. :)

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  9. I'd like to go back to something super ancient, like the building of the stone tombs in Ireland (aka Newgrange), because we know so very, very little about those times and the people who lived then.

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    1. Aw, I love your answer! I'd love to visit all of the places where we know very little about the people and culture. So we don't forget about them. :)

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  10. I never really think about places I would like to visit from the past...anything during the Jazz Age, I guess. Maybe New York or Paris in that time period, or anywhere I would be able to listen to live music. :) Great post! I liked this list.

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    1. Ooh, the Jazz Age would be awesome!! :)

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