Back on October 19, I went to the Tattered Cover for the release of Connie Willis' latest book, All Clear.
I've been very behind on reading this year, and so I only started reading Blackout last month, but I devoured it. I was about 2/3 of the way through it when I went to Connie's signing, and I've since finished it and am about 1/3 of the way through All Clear. As always, I love the way Connie phrases things, and she has an excellent way of weaving her stories together, making the reader want more. I do recommend these books (we'll see if that remains the same after I finish this one!) but don't expect happiness. They are about World War II, after all.
I had to compliment Connie when she signed my book because I don't think I've ever had anyone bring the Blitz to life for me before. Academically, I knew what it was, but most history lessons I remember about WWII tended to focus on the holocaust or Pearl Harbor--movies too. I'd never before internalized the hell that Londoners went through with bombs dropping on their heads every night--which just goes to show how much of an impact fiction can have on a person.
During her talk, Connie mostly concentrated on how frequently history balances on a knife's edge, and what little things can push it over. For example (please bear in mind that I'm paraphrasing), Hitler's plan to invade England involved first an air war, where he was systematically taking out Royal Air Force (RAF) targets. After taking out the RAF, he believed he would be able to march into London unopposed. It had worked in other countries, after all. He'd instructed his pilots to jettison their bombs in the English Channel if they were unable to find their targets. Well, one night, two Luftwaffe pilots got lost in the London fog. They couldn't find their targets, so they jettisoned their bombs over what they thought was the English Channel. It wasn't the English Channel though--they hit a civilian target: a church, and a few civilians died. Well, Churchill had said that if Hitler ever attacked civilians, he would retailiate, so he attacked Berlin. The attack so enraged Hitler that he called off attacking RAF targets and began the Blitz: the regular bombing of London. While this was horrific for Londoners, it probably worked in favor of England and the Allies. Historians have estimated that the RAF had no more than two weeks left before they would have been completely wiped out had Hitler continued his original plan. With Hitler changing his targets, they had time to regroup, rebuild, and keep fighting him off--and all because two pilots got lost in the fog. So you never know when a decision--or a mistake--will change the course of history. Kinda fun to look at from a time travel standpoint.
The release was fun from a social standpoint as well, as I met an old friend there. Waiting in line to get our books signed was the perfect time to catch up. It made for a nice evening.