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The Moment Before

Hi everybody! It's been a hectic fall, but I didn't want you to think I've forgotten about the Order of the Air! I've been doing research for the sixth book, Fire Season, which is set in the summer of 1939. One of the things I've been doing is reading newspapers for the total picture -- what's happening in the world, but also in culture. Even the ads are wonderful -- what do clothes cost, what do sale ads look like, what's hot.

One particular day in June the main column in the editorials is a Very Learned Expert explaining why it is impossible that there will be a war. He cites all of the economic reasons, all of the excellent treaties, all of the things which make "a breakdown of diplomatic relations unthinkable." He persuades at great length that captains of industry and thoughtful leaders make the prospect of war impossible. And some pages later, near Winchell's gossip column, there is a gossip column called "Arrivals". It's a chatty little column about which celebrities are arriving in New York, who they were with, what they were wearing, whose dress was outrageous and who was showing off her baby. "On the Normandie, from Southhampton, Mrs. Joseph Kennedy and her younger children. Mrs. Kennedy says that she is just bringing the little ones home for a visit. The older boys, who are at school, are remaining in England with their father." It's illustrated with a picture of little Teddy Kennedy, in his short pants, waving to reporters. The older boys are future president John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Of course there's no reason that Mrs. Kennedy is getting her young children out of London! Why would anyone get their young children out of the safest and most civilized city on the planet?

And that's the chills moment. War is less than three months away. A year from now, Dunkirk will be over. England will be besieged. France will be partitioned. Poland will be conquered. And no one believes it's possible. The public continues to find it "unthinkable." That's the key word. They can't think about it. They don't dare think about it. And anyone who does is a nut. Or they're Mrs. Kennedy, who can at least take the precaution of getting her seven year old out of London. But who can't say why. After all, she's not a nut, and neither is her husband, the American ambassador. It's just a visit.

That's the moment before.

In hindsight we say, "How could they not know?" Because they don't want to. Because the change that's coming is so terrible and huge and frightening that it has to be explained away. People read the experts, the pundits, and are comforted.

That's what Fire Season is about -- this summer when the wave is building almost to breaking, and everyone wants to pretend it isn't, especially Mitch. Lewis knows it's coming. Alma hopes he's wrong. Stasi hopes so too. And Jerry -- what about Willi? Oh, what about Willi?

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
selki
Dec. 11th, 2015 10:24 pm (UTC)
*chills*
jo_graham
Dec. 13th, 2015 12:02 pm (UTC)
Isn't it though?
dncingmalkavian
Dec. 13th, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC)
It always goes that way - the ones who argue that war or disaster is nigh are laughed at or regarded as madmen, and the ones who point out all the reasons why it will not happen are lauded for their wisdom.

History really does repeat itself.
jo_graham
Dec. 13th, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
It really does. It really is. Why don't people do something? Mostly because most people won't believe there is any reason to until it's too late.
Michele Cox
May. 24th, 2018 06:07 am (UTC)
But when ---???
I'm really looking forward to Fire Season, and I wondered if there's any news about it? I swear I can contain my soul in patience, but... ? ??

Crossing my fingers--!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )