Hurricane Reading – “The Winged Watchman”

Builders;

During the hurricane, our power was out for two days. With the hangar flooded, there wasn’t much to do. In the middle of the storm I did ride the dirt bike around the airport, but after visiting neighbors I headed home to read something. The book I picked out was “The Winged Watchman” a 200 page 1960 children’s book which I had retrieved from the book shelves of my parents house last year. It was around when we were kids in the 60’s, and I am sure most of us read it in turn.

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I had never sat down and read the whole book, and was surprised how good it was. It was intended for children, perhaps from 10-15, but it was obviously written by an author who took writing for children as a serious challenge rather than an excuse for weak work.

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The subject of the story is a child’s life in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. It covers family, faith, work, collaborators, patriotism, hiding partisans, downed airmen and Jews, famine, fear and forgiveness. I got the sense that the book was written 15 years after the war, when children born after it were just old enough to understand what their parents and families had lived through, and it was important to the author that the next generation understand something of this. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, and I’m sure there are great things about them, but I suspect they have less to teach about life than older children’s books did.

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Too few American kids read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a young girl” in school these days, and almost no Americans can place Anne Frank as being hidden for 750 days in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The Winged Watchman was published at the same time that European Neo-Nazis were just emerging to claim that Anne Frank was a hoax, and that she had never lived. If any of the writing in The Winged Watchman  seems slightly heavy handed, perhaps it can be forgiven when seen as having to counter claims that the Germans had arrived as benevolent overseers.

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If there was one good thing about the hurricane, it was reading a book that arrived on our family bookshelves more than five decades earlier, and reflecting on how important it was to my parents that our childhoods be filled with books and reading, even when we were a medium sized family living on the modest income of a junior Naval Officer.  Something that makes me feel very fortunate.

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-ww.

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3 Replies to “Hurricane Reading – “The Winged Watchman””

  1. Hi William,

    I hope you can open this, you probably have read it already. I used a ‘word document’ to open it.
    I’m on the Honor Guard here in Wisconsin with the Dept of Corrections and was looking through my old folders and found this and I thought of you and how you might enjoy it as well.

    Take care,

    Captain Jerry Anderson
    WI Dept of Corrections
    Prairie du Chien, WI
    (608) 326 – 7828

    3rd Squadron-5th Regiment-1st Cavalry Division
    “Saddles and Sabers”

    1. Jerry,
      I am something of a computer moron, and I am having trouble getting your link to come though as something I can identify and open; if there another way you can send it? I would like to have a look at it and share it if possible. -ww.

  2. William,

    I am a sucker for a book review and found that Amazon still sells The Winged Watchman. I read it on my Kindle and enjoyed it very much. Thanks!

    Scott Benger

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