Summer is for reading. And this summer World War II has never seemed more relevant. To reward reading and reflection on this history, Swenson Book Development LLC is offering a three book giveaway. Marcel’s Letters, Chasing Portraits, and Shot from the Sky are the three titles by author clients who have agreed to reward one lucky winner with all three books.

To register to win, leave a comment below. The random drawing will be held August 11. The winner will receive in the mail these three titles which all make history fresh and reveal an unknown aspect of World War II history. Marcel’s Letters brings to the light the little known STO—Service du travail obligatoire—forced labor of French men under the Vichy regime to work for Hitler’s Nazi regime. Chasing Portraits is a quest to discover the lost art legacy of a great-granddaughter of Moshe Rynecki, a Warsaw artist who painted a visual ethnography of Jewish culture exterminated in the Holocaust. And Shot from the Sky is the unknown history of American POWs in Switzerland.

Carolyn Porter is the author of Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate (Skyhorse Publishing, June 6, 2017). Seeking inspiration for a new font design in an antique store in small-town Stillwater, Minnesota, graphic designer Carolyn Porter stumbled across a bundle of letters and was immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting. She could not read the letters–they were in French–but she noticed all of them had been signed by a man named Marcel and mailed from Berlin to his family in France during the middle of World War II. As Carolyn grappled with designing the font, she decided to have one of Marcel’s letters translated. Reading it opened a portal to a different time, and what began as mere curiosity quickly became an obsession with finding out why the letter writer, Marcel Heuze, had been in Berlin, how his letters came to be on sale in a store halfway around the world, and, most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war.

Elizabeth Rynecki is the author of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy (Berkley Books, September 6, 2016). Moshe Rynecki’s body of work reached close to eight hundred paintings and sculptures before his life came to a tragic end. The everyday lives of the Polish-Jewish community depicted in Moshe Rynecki’s paintings simply blended into the background of Elizabeth Rynecki’s life when she was growing up. But the art transformed from familiar to extraordinary in her eyes after her grandfather, Moshe’s son George, left behind journals detailing the loss her ancestors had endured during World War II, including Moshe’s art. Knowing that her family had only found a small portion of Moshe’s art, and that many more pieces remained to be found, Elizabeth set out to find them. Before Moshe was deported to the ghetto, he entrusted his work to friends who would keep it safe. After he was killed in the Majdanek concentration camp, the art was dispersed all over the world. With the help of historians, curators, and admirers of Moshe’s work, Elizabeth began the incredible and difficult task of rebuilding his collection. Spanning three decades of Elizabeth’s life and three generations of her family, this touching memoir is a compelling narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and one woman’s unexpected path to healing.

Cathryn Prince is the author of Shot from the Sky: American POWs in Switzerland (US Naval Institute Press, April 30, 2016, paperback). Shot from the Sky uncovers one of the great, dark secrets of World War II: neutral Switzerland shot and forced down U.S. aircraft entering Swiss airspace and imprisoned the survivors in internment camps, detaining more than a thousand American flyers between 1943 and the war’s end. While conditions at the camps were adequate and humane for internees who obeyed their captors’ orders, the experience was far different for those who attempted to escape. They were held in special penitentiary camps in conditions as bad as those in some prisoner-of-war camps in Nazi Germany. Ironically, the Geneva Accords at the time did not apply to prisoners held in neutral countries, so better treatment could not be demanded. When the war ended in Europe, sixty-one Americans lay buried in a small village cemetery near Bern.

To win one copy of these three books, leave a comment below with your email address (which will not be published on the website comments section). Tell me why you want to read more about WWII today.

Happy Summer Reading!



27 thoughts on “Three Book Giveaway

  1. I’ve been thinking about reading more about WWll, since my dad was a soldier in France and Germany. What a great collection!

  2. What a kind offer of a chance to read these three books! I have had ER’s Chasing Portraits on my list for a few months, as I value all narratives about recovering art looted during the Holocaust, and preserving the memories and legacies of artists and others who were persecuted. I’ve just learned about Shot from the Sky. We need a fuller understanding of the complexities if Switzerland’s role in WWII to avoid complacency about historical understanding. A better portrait of this and other actors is always called for. And what a portrait may be restored in Porter’s Marcel’s Letters! From the starting point of searching for aesthetic inspiration unfolds a tale, a quest, for a person’s story and a ligature to a man’s past which might, but should not, be forgotten. These booksgive depth to our understanding and keep putting a human face on the war that keeps its lessons alive in a time when generalities, euphemisms, and ignorance about the war seem to be gaining ground.

    • As my kids grow older, they are gaining an interest in history, especially WWII – my grandfather fought for the Marines, so it makes it especially interesting for me.

  3. Winners, All!!!

    I’ve read – and loved – Marcel’s Letters, now please help me read the others, thank you : – )

  4. I was born in 1937, and so I was just old enough to follow CBS radio news about the war. My father went off each morning to work with American scientists and engineers trying to develop counter-measures against Nazi submarines that were sinking our Atlantic convoys. An uncle, Ralph Faust, helped to welcome refugees to Oswego, New York and to arrange school placements for the children. World War II has always been part of my memory, my reading, and my teaching. I would love to read these books.

  5. I read “Marcels Letters”. It was moving and kept drawing me in. I learned so much about WWII I did not know or learn in history class. To view the war from other perspectives is important to understand all of it. The two other books will open more windows to WWII

  6. Of course, I would love to receive copies of the books. Thank you, Jill, for the opportunity to win them! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Chasing Portraits. Since I am immersed in WWll right now with my present manuscript, I am particularly interested in broadening my exposure and knowledge base.
    BTW, bett

  7. Wonderful idea–and you made it so easy to participate. I wait with anticipation. Thanks to Swenson Book Development and all three authors. All three books are on my to-read list.

  8. I would love to read all three of these books. I was a child during this War, had uncles serving in all branches, lived with a father who was denied enlistment because he was a farmer and the US needed producers of food. He was angry and felt worthless as a man because he could not “put his life on the line” to defend his country. I am reading a lot of WWII material because I am insecure with the way this country is going and see shades of WWII ideology surfacing and am trying to figure out where I got a ton of my “alarm bells” that keep going off, seemingly on a daily basis. I think there was a lot we did not hear about going on behind the scenes during the war that are only now being revealed.

  9. With all that is transpiring in our world today, I’ve come to realize how little I learned in school about history. These three books, I believe would offer a wonderful opportunity to learn more, in a very tender, pleasant way. They are now on my list and I would love to read them.

  10. Remarkable collection! The time for grand histories is not quite over – those stories about generals, great leaders and military campaigns, but what is relatively new are books that you list and that illustrate those “grand narratives” with individual stories. I have just received three books in the mail that further exemplify this trend in historical writing – Tadeusz Borowski’s “This Way for the Gas,” Eugenia Ginzburg’s “Journey Into the Whirlwind,” and “Silence” by Shusaku Endo about the Holocaust, conscientious regime loyalists in Soviet labor camps, and new Christians in 18th Century Japan respectively, each an inextirpable account of the human experience.

  11. I love Carolyn Porter’s “Marcel’s Letters” so much I’d like to give a copy to a friend to enjoy!

  12. World War II is history! I would love to know more about it and the people who lived through those times and hopefully survived

  13. From what I’ve read about them, these three books look entirely interesting, and I’d love the chance to win!

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