Echoes of the past – some books I used to love

In the early 1960s while I was stationed in Korea an officer I worked with dropped a paperback book onto my desk.   “You need to read this.”    The book was The Revolt of Gunner Asch, by Hans Helmut Kirst.     A novel about a young man in the German army during WWII.

I loved that book and it launched me into several years of good reading of other tomes by Hans Helmut Kirst.     Several Gunner Asch sequels, The Night of the Generals, The Officer Factory, The Adventures of Private Faust, The Seventh Day, and the Nights of the Long Knives.

So a while back I decided to try to find those Kirst books to read again before I die.    The 40-or-so libraries in the system here didn’t have it, so I put out a search on Inter Library Loan, came up with The Officer Factory, but none of the others.

The Officer Factory arrived and reinforced my hopes I could find the others somewhere.

Well, they’re out there New and Used on Amazon, but the days of inexpensive reads for used books are long gone.

I’m thinking I’ll have to wait until my next lifetime to read the rest of those great books.    Don’t know what’s happened to the reading public when libraries don’t carry titles just because they happen to have been written before the librarians were born.

If you happen to be hungry for something to read and have money to spend on books, check out Hans Helmut Kirst ….. you won’t regret it.

Old Jules

14 responses to “Echoes of the past – some books I used to love

  1. A friend of mine recently told me that their city built a new library and only books printed after 2000 were permitted in the “New Library”. What a shame for all generations.

    • That could include reprints of older books, though.

    • Unsettling thing for a library policy. But it’s worth keeping in mind those people running libraries get their degrees in library science and not in literature, history, or some other field of endeavor. Mildly analogous to a person getting an advanced degree in Education so’s to know how to teach math, Spanish, anything. Who needs to know anything about math to teach math, anyway? And who needs to know anything about literature or history to know what books are worth reading and which ones are not? Old Jules

      • I’m staggered by the amount of library space taken up by a handful of authors such as Cussler, Coonts, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, etc. I suppose libraries are stacking their shelves to appeal to demand, but more and more they look like the lousy bookshops inside airport terminals.

        • Yeah, they have anything you might want so long as it’s a best seller written after the turn of the century, I suppose. I’ve tried donating some good books in hopes they’d put them onto their shelves, but they usually won’t. Old Jules

          • Mostly the reason they won’t is because it’s not cost-effective to process them, label them, put in the anti-theft device, etc. Easier and cheaper to get them all done at once, sometimes from the vendor. Olathe does accept a few copies that way, though. JCL does not.

          • Change in philosophy I reckons. The library in Harper, TX when it was trying to get started got almost their entire collection from donations of books from the community. Lots of books there you’d never find in Johnson County, Olathe, Leavenworth or the NE Kansas system. Too good for those places. But likely by now they’ve culled a lot of them out and gotten Cussler and Coontz to fill the shelves.

        • It’s definitely due to demand. After a while all those extra copies get sent to the Friends of the Library bookstore to generate more funds to buy more books so the shelves won’t look so monopolized by just those authors.

          • A person can get some great buys on books that were donated to the library but were too good as literature to get accepted for the collection, though. Even when the libraries get them free they don’t want to clutter up the shelves with good books that only get read once every year or two. I talked to the library in Lansing about those Hans Helmut Kirst books, asked if I bought them and donated them after I finished reading them, if they’d be willing to add them to the collection. Didn’t get a flat-out denial, but the nearest thing to it. Old Jules

          • Yes, whenever I go the library book sales there is no shortage of best-selling fiction authors. Trying to track down classic literature that hasn’t been marked up by college students is a little harder, however. At least some libraries are still trying to keep a wide array of titles, however.

          • There’s that. And likely if there ever comes a time when they banish Library Science degrees from the country there will be more.

          • Maybe that’s what is wrong with our local library. For the past ten years it has been run by high school graduates with no library training of any kind. Yes, we live in the red-neck area of Appalachia, but still. They are finally being replaced.

          • Could be that. Or it might be something else. As nearly as I can tell the publishing houses fired all their editors so a 150 page novel is 395 pages long, and that trickled down to the library staffs all over the country.

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