Today is the 78th anniversary of D-Day, the largest land invasion by any armed force in history. I have recently finished the third volume of Rick Atkinson’s Liberation trilogy, The Guns at Last Light, covering World War II in Western Europe from the preparations for D-Day through V-E Day. The Company of Books has a connection to D-Day. You might ask How?, as TCB only dates from 2020. Read on.
One important source of books for most used bookstores in non-pandemic times is housecalls, where we review and possibly acquire the library of someone who is moving or just cleaning out, divorced or separated, or with inherited books. As the pandemic appeared to be fading a little over a year ago and once staff was vaccinated, TCB began considering making housecalls to a limited extent (alas, we have suspended the practice with the current rise in coronavirus infections).
Our first visit was to Eleanor Carter, a 96-year widow who had recently lost her husband and who could not be expected to haul her books into the bookstore for our review. Her late husband was retired Army Colonel Doniphan Carter, a member of the West Point class of 1944. That class was originally scheduled to graduate in 1945 but was put on an accelerated schedule due to the urgent need for commissioned officers in the hugely expanded World War II Army. The Class of 1944 graduated on June 6, 1944, now better known as D-Day, and became know as the D-Day Class. Of course none of the graduates were aware of the massive invasion underway literally as they went though their graduation ceremony (also attended by the future Mrs. Carter).
Doniphan Carter’s roommate at West Point was John Eisenhower, whose father and future President “Ike” Eisenhower was the commanding officer at SHAEF, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. We don’t know when the younger Eisenhower first learned of the invasion commanded by his father but it was certainly after the graduation ceremony. John Eisenhower later was an Army General himself and became a distinguished military historian. The two West Point roommates remained in contact for decades afterwards. Among the books we acquired from Mrs. Carter were several written and signed by John Eisenhower. An interview with Col. Carter can be found here.
So—through our contact with Mrs. Carter, TCB has only a few degrees of separation from D-Day Commander and future President Dwight Eisenhower!
In the previous blog entry I asked if anyone knew of a source for the Kafka aphorism concerning leopards breaking into temples. Super-researcher and TCB store manager Cole Miller enlightened me. The various Kafka aphorisms were mostly written in 1917, but never collected. They have just been translated into English in a newly-published volume titled Zürau Aphorisms, including the one about the leopards in the temple. Another translation published last month, The Aphorisms of Franz Kafka, includes the original German as well. You can order both of these books through Bookshop.org by clicking the links below, and TCB will earn a 30% commission at no extra cost to you!