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Which Way Now? ~Chris Rahn

Which Way Now?  Is an historic novel about the Midwestern United States during World War II.   Although it starts in the German Embassy in Minneapolis and information about import and export, the reader immediately is captured by the tensions created by Roosevelt’s decisions and the changing war efforts.  German Immigrants were busy proving that they were citizens and some even changed their names; many of the German’s on visas were busy traveling home and leaving as fast as they were able.

In our part of the country we know much more about the Japanese internment camps than we do about the German POW camps, but they were also present here in our state too.

Wilhelm has been moved up into the position of director of the Embassy from the import/export liaison it is his first day on the job and just in time, he escapes arrest for being a German Spy and Intelligence Officer.     He is able to find a job and “hide out” for a period of time, before he is discovered and questioned.  The USA police do not know what to do with him and doon send him to the heartland of America to be in a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers and provide farm labor to provide food for the war effort.

The POWs made it a horrendous experience for each other and demanded loyalties and used extreme measures on each other.  They often had plenty of food and good medical attention.

This history lesson is told around a nice love story and provides solid information about what it was like to live in small town America and be the daughter left home to work and keep the farm going.  It also defines the few choices open to young women at that period of time and how they were confined and restricted in what they could do or achieve.

Our book group filled the whole evening with great discussions of the various aspects of the story, including looking at Germany today after the rebuilding and what they have achieved.   I think this is a story that we need as a reminder of what our history lessons teach us.  It is a keen look at the prejudices and actions of people in various aspects of war and how they got along,  coped and dealt with the hatred and fear being whipped to a frenzy.

Chris Rahn was busy at the time of our meeting, but she is a local author and was helpful about following through on our questions.  One of our members said Rahn had been her work supervisor and was just one of the best people she ever worked for and with.   What I liked especially was her writing style and good word usage.   It was a thoughtful book and the characters were believable and well written.

I would recommend this as a good story, good history lesson and I am sure most high school students would get a better understanding of WWII from Which Way Now?.

(Chris Rahn’s picture and Amazon page)

If you purchase anything from Amazon   or Powell’s   from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you

Related Reading:
Olive Kitteridge
Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet 
The Swan Thieves 
American Wife

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6 Responses to “Which Way Now? ~Chris Rahn”

  1. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – The part that especially piqued my interest is when you said:

    “I am sure most high school students would get a better understanding of WWII.”

    We have a tendency to lose the attention of so many young people in a classroom setting. But with a well written, thoughtful book that has believable characters, this could well be the ticket!

    Going to Tweet and Google+ this post right now!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Removing Self from the Anger EquationMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    This was just a delightful read and I think these kinds of stories are so valuable for teaching history. It was nicely written and had lessons for us today.

    I discovered another local writer who wrote about the Columbia River and the little towns in Washington and Oregon at the mouth and their activities. We not only read Hail Columbia and Oh the Red Rose Tree, but we went to the area camping and visiting the museums….one kiddo even took up quilting and learned the fire boat patterns of the area.

    Making things fun is such a boon to learing
    Patricia recently posted..A STRANGE STIRRING: The FEMININE MYSTIQUE and American Women at the the Dawn of the 1960s ~ Stephanie CoontzMy Profile

  2. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    “Which Way Now?” – :) this is a question I ask myself a lot!

    I’m sure you are right when you said high school students would understand more if they read this book. There are so many really great books that explain historical things better than the text book versions – and blending accurate historical facts with a little fiction to keep it interesting and make you care about what is happening is the BEST way to make anyone remember history. Look at James Mitchner – his books are fabulous examples. I hated history in school – I think it was the text books. I love history now. (or is this like Brussel Srpouts? :) )

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    Patricia Reply:

    I was always matching up novels and short stories with the history books that the kids were using. I also added movies to the mix when we got a player. I think it so helps the past come alive and make it more meaningful to the future.

    Sorry I was late getting here – had some major headache problems with withdrawing from the hormones…back at the computer and garden now :)
    Patricia recently posted..A STRANGE STIRRING: The FEMININE MYSTIQUE and American Women at the the Dawn of the 1960s ~ Stephanie CoontzMy Profile

  3. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. sounds an interesting read .. I wonder if Chris Rahn was able to visit Europe in her research? Each historical aspect of life during a war makes fascinating reading .. another insight ..

    Cheers Hilary

    Patricia Reply:

    Yes I believe that Chris visited Germany and did lots of research when writing this book.

    Hope you are doing well…I have been thinking about you often recently…need to drop by
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