Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.16: World War II in Books; Half-Blood Blues; and German or British?

The demographically similar Jennys return to talk about World War II in literary imagination! We review Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues (affiliate links: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository), and we finish up by playing a game of Randon’s invention in which we must guess whether movie villains are German or British. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly to take with you on the go.

Episode 16

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Here are the contents of the podcast if you’d like to skip around:

Starting at 1:16 – Why is World War II such a recurringly popular setting for literature? What are some of our most favorite World War II books in all the land? Weigh in if you wish, and tell us some World War II books we should check out! (Please forgive me for sounding a little like my mouth is full in parts of this segment. My sister had made lemon cream cheese king cake, and it was insanely good.)

4:03 – I had a professor in England who gave a lecture about the American Revolution, and he looked very woeful when he talked about how damaging the American Revolution was to the British psyche. I felt terribly guilty. I just want y’all to know that’s what I was thinking about here.

Starting at 15:22 (ish)We review Esi Edugyan’s award-winning novel Half-Blood Blues, a story about jazz musicians in Nazi Germany in 1940 and in post-Communist Berlin in 1992. Highly recommended!

18:10 – Here’s the bit of Half-Blood Blues I’m talking about:

“Boys,” he said smoothly. “I’d like to stand you a drink.”


I was in love. Pure and simple. This place, with its stink of sweat and medicine and perfume; these folks, all gussied up never mind the weather — this, this was life to me. Forget Sunday school and girls in white frocks. Forget stealing from corner stores. This was it, these dames swaying their hips in shimmering dresses, these chaps drinking gutbucket hooch. The gorgeous speakeasy slang. I’d found what my life was meant for.

Starting at 31:00 – Randon wrote us a game. You should play along because it’s fun. Randon describes a movie villain and his/her plan; and we must guess whether the villain is German or British; what the movie is; and the name of the villain. If you get the names of the villains, color us impressed. We struggled with that section.

Starting at 44:41 – Whiskey Jenny gives her recommendation for next time, The Golem and the Jinni! We’ll see you back here in two weeks to find out what we both thought of it.

Starting at 45:36 – Closing remarks and outro.

Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall and comes from here.

3 thoughts on “Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.16: World War II in Books; Half-Blood Blues; and German or British?”

  1. I can’t say I have any favorite WW2 books. They are all so depressing 🙁

    Anne Frank is still one of my all-time favorites. I like Suite Francaise too. A recent good one I read is The Garden of Evening Mists, which is about the Japanese occupation of Malaysia.

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