Friday, June 18, 2010

Denmark Rising - Part IV

Before fixing dinner last night, I finished Barry Clemson's novel, Denmark Rising.  As I said in yesterday's blog, I already knew the outcome in general.  But Clemson has written well and has made me care about the characters in the book.  Most of them are real names, of real people, with some interpretation on Clemson's part about their feelings and actions on the day-to-day basis.  It is a delicate balance -- writing about historical figures while staying true to what we do know about them.  Completing the book gave me some closure as to what happened to many of the characters who were prominent throughout the book and about whom I was very curious.

War takes its toll in many ways and these characters were no exception.  Clemson brings to light ethical, moral, and human issues throughout the novel.   These are just a few that come to my mind from my reading this week. 
  • Danish youth and adults who were angry about the occupation and felt that Viking warriors should rise up and strike back -- how to convince them that strategic nonviolence is an appropriate response and is actually a weapon?
  • German Wermarcht (regular army) who served in Denmark throughout Germany's occupation and saw no reason to kill civilians who'd done no harm to them -- how do they resolve orders to kill them against their Christian upbringing?  
  • Can you order an action, knowing it will result in the deaths of innocents, yet it means far fewer people will die than if you ordered alternative actions?
  • When "my turn" comes for punishment from the oppressor, will I stand up and face it or will I run and hide, leaving my comrades to face my punishment? 
  • How can I practice nonviolence yet plan actions that will kill many others, even if they are the enemy?  Can we do anything to prevent those deaths while maintaining our resistance? 
This is a book I will recommend, over and over again, to people I know who like to think.  This book compels you to think about and reflect upon what is an appropriate response to oppression.  Have we learned all the wrong lessons?  Are there times and places where this won't work.  Are there other times and places where it might be the most effective option; so why aren't we doing it? 

Let me know what you think after you read Denmark Rising

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