The Missing Matisse

the-missing-matisseAuthor: Pierre H. Matisse

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A breath-taking memoir that accounts many hair raising escapades during World War II in France.

Pierre Matisse was born into an artistic family. Many people know of his grandfather, Henri Matisse, who was a famous artist.  Pierre loved his parents and his younger brother, but once the war started, his family began to be torn apart. He was forced to take another name to become Pierre Leroy and was no longer part of his family, at least on paper.  This began a personal vendetta against Adolf Hitler and the Germans so that he could one day finally be reunited with his family and no longer be missing.

Pierre’s memoir recounts his time as a young boy in France as well as Spain including the Spanish civil war led by General Franco. He then returned to France with his family as the German Nazis started to occupy France. He was part of the evacuation of Paris and even helped his father in some of the French underground’s activities.  He was transferred between boarding schools in his mother’s attempt to keep him safe and was eventually sent to Normandy to live with his “grandparents on paper” just days before D-Day and the Allied forces arrived.  Needless to say, trouble finds Pierre without a problem.

This book was a really interested look at World War II history from the French side. The majority of the book is based around the WWII time frame, but does have some time before and after.  Needless to say, Pierre was a very interesting person.  The history that is presented really takes you to the time and place.  There is a lot of raw emotion of tragic events that befall Pierre and his family, so beware before reading.

I felt like the end of the book was a little rushed. There was a lot of time spend from 1939 to 1946 and then very little devoted from then until present day.  I bet he had a lot of grand adventures, but just had trouble figuring out which ones to share with everyone.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves history or memoirs!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Al Capone

al-caponeAuthor: Deirdre Bair

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Release Date: October 25, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Many have heard of Al Capone, but never the whole story as told here!

Al Capone’s name is one of the most recognizable in history. Even more so than some of the United States presidents and movie stars.  It is recognized in several countries several decades after he died.  Why is that?  Why do people remember the name?  How does it get past on? Why do children still play cops and robbers with the ringleader being Capone?  Deirdre Bair dives into Capone’s life to explore who Capone really was.  From the early years to his teenage years and onto his height as a gangster in Chicago onto his demise in Alcatraz.  She explains how he was raised and why his parents immigrated to America only to discover that it was not all rainbows and unicorns as they had hoped.  If you are interested in the whole story, not just snippets, then you should pick up a copy of this book.

I probably fall into the category that most people fit in when it comes to Al Capone. I know the name, I know about some of his time in Chicago, and I know he was sent to Alcatraz.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t have picked up a copy of this book had it not been for a 2:00 AM program on PBS about speakeasies in the 1920s that had a large segment dedicated to Al Capone (all thanks to have a six month old little boy at the time).  But that program really sparked an interest into learning more about who Al Capone was.  Then as if by fate, this book suddenly popped up in a possible too read offer.  Needless to say it was easy to pick it up and read it.  I really appreciate all the history and research that Bair brought to the table.  There were several parts of the book that enlightened me, but also made me understand Capone’s personality more.  This is the first book about Capone that I have read, so I can’t judge it against any others, but I can sure pick up another book that Bair has written.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.