Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's In A Name?

The other day I was listening to NPR's book review segment, Word Of Mouth and they started talking about this book by Andrew Nagorski that I just knew the man I'm dating (my Mr. Big) would want to read. The book weaves together the accounts of American corespondents who were based in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. According to the review, the Nagorski details how the observers first saw Hitler as a joke, then as someone who might have some influence and then, slowly, the corespondents begin to comprehend the enormity of the evil that is about to be unleashed onto the world. Mr. Big is a journalism buff and a WWII scholar so this book is perfect for him. And the timing is perfect because Mr. Big's birthday is coming up.

There is one problem though, it's the title of the book. Hitlerland. You can't give someone a book titled Hitlerland for their birthday. It just can't be done. Furthermore, I can't think of a single occasion for which a book of that title would be appropriate. Not for an anniversary, certainly not for Christmas and absolutely not for Hanukkah.

I thought about all the things they could have called this book. The Rise of Evil or The Rise Of Hitler or maybe even Watching Hitler, Sounding The Alarm. They really could have titled it just about anything. Anything other than Hitlerland. Hitlerland sounds evil, demented and flippant all at the same time. It's the punchline of a joke a comedian delivers the day before he has to offer up a public apology to save his career. It's the theme park you put into Dante's 9th circle of hell (I'll apologize for that crack tomorrow). I'm sure the title plays off something that someone said in the book, but still! 

And yet it looks like a really good book! All the reviewers are raving. Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, they're all raving about it. Even Kirkus Book Reviews loves it and Kirkus is like that Mikey kid from the old Life cereal ads, they hate everything. I mean this book was even blurbed by Henry Kissinger. Anyone who is a WWII history buff is going to want it.

But as a gift it's a little tricky.

So I just bought the book on my most recent trip to Barnes & Noble, sent Mr. Big an email saying, "I got you a book called Hitlerland, I think you'll like it." and later gave it to him after a casual weekend lunch. It was the only way to go. A book titled Hitlerland can't be given for a special occasion.

Hitlerland is the gift you give a man just because you care.

--Kyra Davis


Robin Kaye said...

LOL - Oh man, I totally see what you mean. Thanks for giving me a laugh, and another book to put on my nearly overwhelming TBR pile!

Terri Osburn said...

Oddly, the name doesn't bother me. Sort of fits the crazy, amusement park turned Hell nature of that whole situation. I find it amazing he was able to rise to power at all.