A Peak Inside Their Lives

Reading is one of the joys of life and can be done free. You probably mix your choices of reading from entertainment to educational or investigational. At some point, you may have included historical fiction in your choice. That’s pretty much everything from eons ago to WWII, and including stories of the Civil War and the Vietnam War era. There is never a lack of stories on any period of time that captures your interest.

Some of the most popular historical authors tend to base their stories using a known historical figure in a strong protagonist role. Tudor and medieval times are as popular as is nearly any time period from Neanderthals to the 20th century.

There are some differences of opinion regarding the definition of historical fiction, but according to the Providence Public Library, it is generally agreed to be set 50 or more years previous and written from research. There are as many categories and sub-genres as authors, although the better known are probably the traditional historical novels that accurately follow an historical event. Sagas may follow specifics groups of persons over time, whereas western historical novels involve the American West. Historical novels may also include mysteries, romances, or adventures with protagonists traveling at great odds.

Vietnam Era stories can fall into the historical realm at this point, and one of the rising, notable authors, a veteran himself, is Bob Meyer, who produces pseudo-autobiographical exploits. You may have also read a June Collins’ novel called “Goodbye, Junie Moon” about the same time period set in Viet Nam and not wholly fiction. The older folks may remember the scandal she stumbled across and wrote about that lead to congressional hearings.

The biography “Calvin Many Wolves Potter,” was penned by his great-great-granddaughter, Elaine Brooks Held. Held weaves the bittersweet tale handed down to her of twelve-year-old Calvin Potter stealing away in the night from an abusive father in Pennsylvania. She does an amazing job of putting you in his moccasins as he is discovered near death and carefully and patiently nursed back to health by the Sisseton Sioux of Minnesota Held weaves a spell-binding tale of Calvin as he is integrated into the Dakota nation becoming Many Wolves, learning the language, adopting their ways, and becoming a warrior. As the white man continues to make inroads into their territory, however, he is forced back to the people from which he was born; but he is no longer white, nor really Native American.

The biography, “Charlie Chaplin-A Brief Life,” was authored by Peter Ackroyd. Ackroyd did a splendid job of painting a picture of Charlie the man (with all his warts), Charlie the actor, and Charlie the powerhouse cinema innovator.

While most persons over the age of 30 know the name, few of us are familiar with the impact his life had, not only on the US (his adopted nation), but worldwide, early in 20th Century film technology.

Born a child of the London slums to an alcoholic and psychologically unstable mother, he discovers a natural talent as a mimic and establishes an image as the “Little Tramp.” The timing was perfect for his character and he quickly finds a new home in silent films in America.

No fan of the cast, crew, or directors, he quickly worked himself into becoming the dominant personality and expanded the then popular one “reeler” (one reel approximating 13 minutes) into two. It was actually Chaplin, along with Douglas Fairbanks, D. W. Griffith, and Mary Pickford who created United Artists. His fanatical attention to detail and the change of the art of acting itself along with differences in camera use and filming began a volatile change in the cinematic industry.

While the man himself, that I could see, was a despot, he actually began an evolution in the movie industry. And, after all his personal scandals, he was eventually venerated and accorded an honorary Academy Award.

Fortunately, in a period of digital and eBooks, you don’t even have to leave your home to secure a good read and many of these are offered free. The popularity of book stores and printed books are enjoying a resurgence. Libraries and book clubs can still widely pack them in. It’s time to curl up with a good biography.