Retired banker Duke Griffey of Shreveport is a friend and fellow book lover of whom I regularly ask: “What are you reading?”
While he will read almost anything, he particularly likes books about World War II, which seem especially timely now with war sadly again capturing headlines. He’s a curious, studious reader who generously shares his book reviews of him throughout the Shreveport area.
A few years ago, Griffey turned me on to “Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, an enthralling nonfiction book about an unlikely Olympic rowing team during World War I. Both my husband and I loved this book. Recommended early by Griffey, it went on to be a huge bestseller and inspired a PBS documentary.
Now Griffey recommends a new favorite, also by Brown: “Facing The Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II.” The story of the 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated shortly after Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii and on the East Coast, is not particularly well known, Griffey says. “This book certainly brings that time in history to light and magnificently so.”
About patriotism and resistance, it focuses on four Japanese American men and their families and the contributions and sacrifices they made for the sake of the nation. “’Facing The Mountain’ is another absolutely slam dunk and five-star non-fiction book,” Griffey says. “Mr. Brown is a literary artist in how he tells a story.”
More about the book:
In the days and months after Pearl Harbor, the lives of Japanese Americans were changed forever. In this chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe, portrays the journey of Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki and Kats Miho, who volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers’ parents, immigrants who were forced to submit to life in concentration camps on US soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of Gordon Hirabayashi, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights.
Released last year, “Facing The Mountain” is a New York Times bestseller and was recognized as an NPR “books we love” last year. For info on the author: www.danieljamesbrown.com.
Two more Griffey recommendations
“D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II” by Sarah Rose. “An extraordinary story of an incredibly brave group of five women operating in German-occupied France where death could be a heartbeat away. The life expectancy, for example, of a radio operator behind enemy lines was less than six weeks. An incredible story.”
“Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat” by Giles Milton. “A Sunday Times Top 10 Best Seller. The story of six gentlemen who directed a guerrilla campaign that was beyond extraordinary and is stated to perhaps be the last great untold story of the Second World War. A WWII story unlike any you have ever read before.”
Next up on his list
In addition to leading book-club discussions of “Facing the Mountain,” Griffey is reading “The Vagabonds,” by Jeff Guinn, a nonfiction story of summer road trips with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, starting in 1914.
Thanks, Duke, for sharing your love of books with us. And to all you readers, keep those recommendations coming: email@example.com.
Book, DVD honor pioneering female pastor
As we enter Women’s History Month, I’m pleased to announce the re-release of a biography about a pioneering Louisiana pastor.
In 1939, Lea Joyner was one of the first women ordained into the Louisiana Conference of United Methodists and one of the first female “church planters.” In 1952 she started a congregation, Southside Methodist Church, in an economically poor area of Monroe in Northwest Louisiana and served there for more than 30 years, leading it from a patch of weeds to a membership of 2,200.
Tragically she was murdered in 1985 in the church parking lot after working late. Her body was found dumped in a cotton patch, and the killer turned himself in. He remains on death row.
Now to keep the story of Joyner’s life and ministry alive, the Rev. David Melville, who grew up in Bossier and is ordained within the Louisiana United Methodist Conference, has obtained the rights to her biography, “Standing in the Gap: The Life and Ministry of the Rev. Lea Joyner” by the late Dr. Harry Hale Jr. The book has been re-released in conjunction with a documentary, “LEA,” about her life.
Hale and Joyner started interviews for the book before her death, and he completed it two years after her murder. A professor of sociology at then-Northeast University in Monroe, he was an active Methodist, and his son gave him Melville permission to reprint the biography.
Melville, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in San Antonio, took on the book and DVD project because he appreciates the path Joyner paved for him, as well as for female clergy. “Lea’s story relates to others and is important on so many levels,” he said.
“This is a story of female empowerment, to be sure, but also about starting and growing a church, serving the lost and the least and attracting some of them to join the church, and questions about access to mental health care and one’s stance on the death penalty.”
The 30-minute DVD was produced by Laura Elisabeth Ulrich and Charles Pridgen, who grew up in Monroe after Lea’s ministry, a project done from love because of the fondness Monroe and West Monroe residents still have for Joyner. The film premiered last November at the church named in her honor de ella, Lea Joyner Memorial United Methodist Church in Monroe, and Melville hopes to have screenings throughout Louisiana this year.
“Read never married or had a family,” Melville said. “Southside Methodist Church was her family de ella, as well as the poor, hospitalized, jailed and lost of the entire Monroe / West Monroe community.”
Both the book and DVD (whose cover depicts Joyner as a girl preaching to her dolls) are available for purchase through www.changeartistsllc.com. To contact, Melville, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Columnist Judy Christie is the author of 18 novels and nonfiction books. With NYT bestselling author Lisa Wingate, she co-authored “Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society,” the nonfiction sequel to Wingate’s novel “Before We Were Yours.” For more about Christie, see www.judychristie.com.