Non-Fiction

The Economics of Writing a Technical Book

24 June 2019

From Medium:

I am not an expert. I have co-authored a single book in 2017 called Cloud Native Infrastructure for O’Reilly Media. Many people have asked me what it was like so I will attempt to explain the process, time investment, and financial incentive here.

. . . .

The process was about what I expected. I was introduced to Brian, our first of three editors, from someone I knew who was already writing their third book. They thought I might be a good fit for what they were looking for so they made the introduction.

I thought about it for a couple weeks and then submitted a formal book proposal which entailed filling out a Word document template and emailing it to the editor. I didn’t hear back for about 3 weeks and then, after a follow-up email, heard the proposal was approved. After a kick-off call it was suggested that I find a co-author to help write the book. I had a week to find one and then needed to sign a contract with O’Reilly for dates and deliverables. I interviewed a few people and Kris Nova and I complemented each others skills perfectly for the content we wanted to cover in the book. She agreed it sounded like a good topic and she was excited to take on the challenge.

The contract seemed fairly standard and focused around content ownership and royalties split. The default split between authors is 50/50 which we stuck with. The contract stipulated that Kris and I own the copyright for the content, but O’Reilly has exclusive rights to use the content any way they see fit throughout the world now and in the future for the duration of the copyright.

Once the contract was signed there was a steady pace of work as we both figured out how to lay out content and what we should write about. O’Reilly provides a platform called Atlas for writing which is quite good. You write in plain text AsciiDoc and then O’Reilly’s Atlas platform can generate a PDF, or other formats, via the web interface or API. We both used atlas-cli to generate PDFs as we wrote. Generating the PDFs was a good feedback loop on the content. It helped make sure formatting was right and also allowed us to take a step back to read what we wrote.

. . . .

On March 1st we were assigned our cover animal which Kris and I named Andy O’Connor the Andean Condor. We were pretty excited to see the cover for the first time even if the subtitle went through multiple revisions. We didn’t get to pick the animal or the picture. We were told up front we wouldn’t get to pick the animal so we knew what to expect. We were also told that Tyrannosaurus Rex and unicorns are not allowed.

We kept writing until the 1/2 draft was due in early June. We turned it in and got less feedback than we expected, but it was still good to have a fresh set of eyes looking at it. We didn’t like what we had created. We had written almost 6 chapters and threw away 3 of them. The first two were heavily edited and the remaining chapter was trimmed down significantly and turned into an appendix.

We had some more planning meetings and came up with a revised outline that we submitted to our editor for review. By this time we were on our 2nd editor who wasn’t very familiar with the project so we got very little feedback and went with what we had.

. . . .

The first Tuesday of September the full draft was due and then went into a review process. There were technical reviewers we were able to suggest but mostly O’Reilly pulled from a pool of their trusted reviewers. We got minimal feedback from most of them (a survey form) and one returned notes on the PDF. We had a week to make edits. During this time the draft was made available as a preview on Safari books. In retrospect I wish we had posted preview chapters sooner which was something our first editor suggested, but we were both too embarrassed to follow through.

It wasn’t enough feedback for me so I reached out to more people and sent them chapters looking for someone to tell me it sucks and why. Luckily, I found someone who would give me the harsh feedback I wanted and I had about 3 days to incorporate their changes into the book before it went off to post production.

The last push was very difficult and stressful. There were a lot of big changes on the last weekend which was a risk, but I think in the end made the book better. The final weekend we moved some chapters around and wrote a chapter from scratch for content we felt was missing.

. . . .

I believe the first PDF came back with more than 1300 edits. Overall there were more than 2000 changes made during post. I later found out this amount of edits is fairly standard for our book length. We had about 3 weeks of emailing large, heavily notated PDFs back and forth which was no fun compared to the plain text git workflow of writing.

. . . .

All in all I worked from Feb — Oct for roughly 5 nights a week at 2–3 hours per night. I also worked about 3 weekends non-stop when a draft or final edits were due. Roughly I’d say I worked about 500 hours total. That was only my time and doesn’t include Kris’. I was lucky to have a co-author to share the load.

. . . .

At the end of final edits I was done (contractually and mentally). I had read through the entire book at least three times and much of the content was starting to lose meaning. After sending the final edited PDF I wanted to stress about missing an edit before going to bed, but I was too tired to care.

. . . .

O’Reilly provides an affiliate program which was terrible to set up and in the end hardly worth the time. You get a cut from all sales that go through your link but I have never received any money from affiliate book sales. The only money I got was when someone used my link and then bought a ticket to an O’Reilly conference.

. . . .

I attempted to set up an affiliate program for Amazon but my application was denied. Amazon offers an author central site to create a 1998 inspired author profile page and an out of date book sale statistics and rankings. I’m really not sure the point of creating the Amazon author information outside of claiming the book(s) you author and confirming that you have a terrible book rank.

. . . .

I would suggest anyone writing a book spend a night to register a domain and set one up. I launched it on August 31, 2017 and it has over 4,600 visits which is terrible by most website standards but good as a place to funnel users for info.

. . . .

From December through March the book has sold 1337 copies. I have no idea how well other books in this category sell. This total also includes 2 book signings at conferences that were sponsored by the CNCF (Thank you!) which was roughly 150 physical books total. On average, the book has sold 222 copies per month which is greatly skewed by the first month which had 930 sales. The last month (March) had 34 physical book sales. I suspect that number will go down even more over the next few months.

Sponsorships was an unexpected source of income. We have been lucky enough to have 3 sponsors so far. The sponsor pays O’Reilly for exclusive rights to provide a PDF and optional print version of the book. The company gets to put a forward in the book that Kris, me, and an O’Reilly editor approve. Once the sponsor completes their contract with O’Reilly they can do whatever they want with the books. Usually, the PDF gets put behind a web form so you fill out your email address and the company uses it for marketing services and getting customer leads. Physical books are usually given away at conferences where they can scan badges.

. . . .

Each full book sponsorship for one month nets me $3,705 and partial sponsorships give an amount based on percentage of the book sponsored (e.g. 5 chapters in a 10 chapter book is 50% sponsored). That’s much better than I expected because a one month full sponsorship is more than all other sales combined.

. . . .

There are also some other sponsorships that I think count as ebook sales but I never got a clear answer how royalties work for those. Book licensing incurs a small payment but I’m unclear how that is used. From my statements, three people have licensed the book or excerpts from it which has netted me $2.37.

. . . .

My April 2018 statement (sales from December — March) says I’ve made $11,554.15 which roughly breaks down to $23 per hour for the estimated 500 hours of work. Without the three sponsorships that would have been $5.29 per hour.

. . . .

The book has provided a few other opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had. So far I’ve done a couple podcast interviews, spoken at a few events, did one webinar, and have had a few opportunities for more writing projects with O’Reilly (some of which I’ve taken).

Would I write another book? Not for the foreseeable future. I would like to update Cloud Native Infrastructure to keep it fresh with current industry trends, but another book from scratch is not a year long project I’d be looking forward to at this time.

Link to the rest at Medium

From Foot-Binding to Feminism: a Millennial Charts China’s Rapid Change

20 June 2019

From The Guardian:

When I sit down with Chinese journalist Karoline Kan to talk about her memoir, Under Red Skies, it is 5 June: the day after the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Kan’s emotional discovery of what is euphemistically referred to as “the June Fourth Incident” forms a moving part of her memoir about life as a millennial in China. “China collapsed for me suddenly,” she writes of the day she used a VPN to skirt web censorship and first learned of the killing and injuring of thousands, as she binged hungrily on suddenly accessible western coverage. “I no longer understood what was in front of me. I had no faith in what I had been brought up to believe.”

She explains: “When you grow up in China, trying to find the accurate details of something that happened before you, sometimes they are not available. And it’s like trying to solve a puzzle.”

Kan was born in 1989, the year of the massacre, and her memoir is a riveting blend of coming-of-age story, family history and cultural commentary, encompassing vast generational differences and the urban-rural divide. Kan is on the frontline of a rapidly changing country, having grown up poor in rural China, then attending university in the capital before working in the New York Times’s Beijing bureau. Her job title was “researcher”, as Chinese legislation does not allow citizens to be journalists for foreign-owned media. These days, she is the Beijing editor of website China Dialogue as well as a published author. It’s been quite the rise.

“Nobody in my family ever wrote a book,” she says. “There isn’t even a journalist in my family or anybody who could be considered intellectual. So to me, it was a nice dream.” She was never concerned about reprisals for her writing: “I was nobody, just a writer, and also writing in English. So unless I decided to write something totally political about the Chinese president or the party, it was pretty much fine.”

Kan was almost never here: under China’s one-child policy, her birth was forbidden. Kan’s mother entered a protracted game of cat and mouse with the Birth Control Office, tricking doctors into believing she had been fitted with the mandatory uterine ring by putting an iron ring in her pocket during an X-ray. She was also able to evade forced abortion and forced sterilisation. Nevertheless, having Kan lost her her job as a teacher.

. . . .

Her great-grandmother had bound feet, and her grandmother narrowly escaped the same fate. Kan writes: “At first, my grandmother, Little Guiqin, was told to practise walking so she could get used to the pain. The torture lasted for a few hours a day. She’d painfully and slowly pace up and down the yard. She’d cry and cry but then she got lucky. Less than a week after the initial binding, revolutionaries put a stop to the tradition.”

She says now: “I grew up in a traditional Chinese family from a small town where women naturally obey men. My teachers would tell me: ‘You should choose a job that suits women, not compete with men.’ I felt unhappy with it. I don’t think I’m any worse than male students. But at the same time I was afraid of being regarded as somebody weird, who doesn’t fit in.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

“The Levelling” Review: Masters versus the Masses

20 June 2019

From The Wall Street Journal:

Resentment of elites is the theme of the hour. In “The Levelling,” Michael O’Sullivan mentions a historical analogy to make all the more vivid our current moment. In England in the late 1640s, he notes, a faction called the Levellers complained about the grandees in Oliver Cromwell’s army, which had just defeated Charles I in a civil war. The grandees wanted to impose a postwar settlement without consulting the rank and file in the army. As one Leveller put it, calling for more equality: “Have you shook this nation like an earthquake to produce no more than this for us?”

More than three centuries later, the 2008 financial crisis devastated Middle America, but the grandees who fueled the crisis with excessive risk taking faced no consequences. According to Mr. O’Sullivan, the government response to the 2008 global crisis saved “those who have the means to be saved (and who may not deserve to be saved), leaving others floundering.” This generation’s Levellers in the U.S. and the U.K. and on the European continent protest the undemocratic power of government technocrats, central banks and the European Commission, and they vote for Donald Trump, Brexit and Europe’s populist parties.

It is a powerful statement of the problem of the elites vs. the masses, the insiders vs. the outsiders. Ironically, “The Levelling” itself and the genre to which it belongs highlight the problem rather than solve it. Often condescending, supposedly expert solutions are offered to a crisis that is so broadly defined that it includes obesity, videogame addiction, acute attention deficit disorder and the “hunched form of the ‘texter.’ ” In such diverse signals the author claims to hear the masses saying that they “are experiencing more change than they are comfortable with.”

It is part of the charm of “The Levelling” that the author confesses the sins of this genre even while he gleefully sins further.

. . . .

To be fair, Mr. O’Sullivan, a finance executive and author, sometimes shows more convincing expertise.

. . . .

So should the grandees listen to the “incoherent” grievances of the Levellers? Should the grandees reflect on their own incoherence—repeated domestic and foreign-policy failures unsuccessfully hidden by their favorite buzzwords? Surely such incoherence is part of what has led voters to reject them. The grandee philosophy remains that of the famous Ring Lardner line: “Shut up, he explained.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

The Hemingway Marlin Fish Tournament

18 June 2019

From The Paris Review:

On March 4, 1960, the French freighter La Coubre, delivering Belgian arms to Havana Harbor, exploded, killing 101 people. Fidel Castro immediately denounced the United States for “sabotage.” To protest the “heinous act,” commanders Che Guevara, Ramiro Valdés, Camilo Cienfuegos, William Morgan, Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado (who would remain the president of Cuba until 1976), and Fidel Castro walked arm in arm down Calle Neptuno, forming a dramatic contrast between the street’s garish neon signs and the plain green of their uniforms—and the sobriety of their mission.

In a photo taken on March 5, 1960, by Alberto Korda at a ceremony for the victims of the tragedy, Che appears full of sorrow, anger, and determination. That image would become ubiquitous across the world, a trademark, appearing on T-shirts and countless other commodities. Che transcended his personhood and became a symbol for both the struggle against tyranny and of tyranny itself. His spirit seemed to impress even nihilist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, who, with Simone de Beauvoir, was there that mournful day when Che’s picture was taken.

One of Che’s first questions in taking over as president of the Banco Nacional de Cuba in November was where Cuba had deposited its gold reserves and dollars. When he was told Fort Knox, he said that the gold would have to be sold and converted into currency in Canadian and Swiss accounts. During a speaking engagement at the bank two months later, Che apologized “because my talk has been much more fiery than you would expect for the post I occupy; I ask once more for forgiveness, but I am still much more of a guerrilla than President of the National Bank.” As if to prove it, he signed banknotes with his nom de guerre: “Che.” The agenda was the struggle, and so it would remain, and La Coubre only confirmed the necessity of his resolve and commitment to the bitter end.

Most every Thursday evening that season, U.S. Ambassador Philip Bonsal dined with Ernest Hemingway. One evening he came also to deliver an upsetting message: the U.S. government was going to break off relations with Cuba. Washington decreed that Hemingway, as the island’s most conspicuous, high-profile expatriate, should leave Cuba as soon as possible and publicly proclaim his disapproval of Castro’s government. If he did not, he could be sure that he would face serious and unpleasant consequences. Hemingway protested: his business was not politics but writing, and for twenty-two years Cuba had been his home. Be that as it may, Bonsal replied that high officials maintained a different view, had used the word traitor, and saw his collaboration as a nonnegotiable.

That was the message he had to deliver, the ambassador said, and he believed that Ernest should take it quite seriously. As the course of dinner conversation drifted to other subjects, the Hemingways and their dinner guests tried to think about happier things but found it difficult to forget what had just been said. Hemingway was not one to take orders, and one can imagine that this news and the imminent loss of his cherished home in Cuba would have been very unsettling. From Bonsal’s warning, it is also difficult to know the severity of the “consequences” that might have come as a response to Hemingway’s acts of “treason.” A letter of reprimand, loss of citizenship, a fine, imprisonment, or something much more sinister?

Link to the rest at The Paris Review

By Alberto Diaz Gutierrez (Alberto Korda) – Museo Che Guevara, Havana, Cuba, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3777867

Diet Book Pinch of Nom Is Fastest Selling Non-Fiction Title in History

18 June 2019

From The Irish Times:

A book of diet recipes written by two British chefs, Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson, has become the fastest selling non-fiction book since records began. Pinch of Nom, based on the authors’ food blog of the same name, has sold 210,506 copies, in sales worth more than £2 million, since it was released on Thursday of last week.

The collection of slimming recipes has notched up the biggest single weekly sale for any non-fiction title in the UK, displacing Peter Kay’s The Sound of Laughter, which was released in 2006. Only books by JK Rowling, EL James and Dan Brown have sold more copies in a single week, according to British industry publication, The Bookseller. Pinch of Nom knocked Mary Berry’s latest, Quick Cooking, from the hardback non-fiction number one spot.

. . . .

Featherstone and Allinson previously owned a restaurant in The Wirral, near Liverpool. They started writing their blog in 2016, when they began to follow a Slimming World weight loss programme and identified what they saw as a need for tried and tested diet recipes. “We started Pinch of Nom to provide some helpful information for fellow dieters, to show just how easy diet food is to make,” the authors say.

Their blog quickly earned a strong following, based on a community of regular users and contributors, 20 of which road-tested each of the 100 recipes in Pinch of Nom. It now has 1.5 million followers, and almost half a million Instagram followers, and has been described by their publisher as “the UK’s most-visited food blog”.

Link to the rest at The Irish Times

Wolf Book Postponed in Us as Virago Holds Firm

16 June 2019

From The Bookseller:

Publication of Naomi Wolf’s latest book has been postponed in the US following “new questions” about its contents but UK publisher Virago is standing by its publication.

Wolf was initially alerted to errors in Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love during an appearance on BBC Radio 3 last month.

Historian Dr Matthew Sweet pointed out she had misunderstood the legal term “death recorded” to mean executions when it actually meant judges abstained from pronouncing a death sentence. Sweet also claimed she was wrong about the reason for the sentences. The error called into question her claim that “several dozen” men had been executed for homosexual sex in the UK.

After initially standing by the book, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt told the New York Times on Thursday (13th June) it was delaying the release. A spokesman told the paper: “As we have been working with Naomi Wolf to make corrections to Outrages, new questions have arisen that require more time to explore. We are postponing publication and requesting that all copies be returned from retail accounts while we work to resolve those questions.”

. . . .

A Virago spokeswoman said: “Though the book received excellent reviews it also attracted criticism. As a result, Houghton Mifflin have decided to postpone their June publication ahead of their books going on sale while they explore the questions that have arisen. Virago will be making any necessary corrections to future reprints.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

From The Guardian:

Naomi Wolf’s US publisher has postponed the release of her new book and is recalling copies from booksellers, saying that new questions have arisen over the book’s content.

Outrages, which argues that the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 led to a turn against consensual sex between men and an increase in executions for sodomy, was published in the UK on 20 May. Wolf has already acknowledged that the book contains two errors, after an on-air challenge on BBC Radio 3 during which the writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet told her that she had misunderstood the term “death recorded” in historical records as signifying an execution. In fact it denotes the opposite, Sweet pointed out, highlighting that a teenager she said had been “actually executed for sodomy” in 1859 was paroled two years after being convicted. Wolf said last month that she had thanked Sweet for highlighting the mistakes, and was correcting future editions.

. . . .

Wolf said on Friday morning that she strongly objected to the decision to postpone and recall, and that she would “do all I can to bring Outrages to American readers”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

From The New York Times:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is postponing the publication of Naomi Wolf’s forthcoming book “Outrages” after questions have been raised about the accuracy of her research.

The book, which explores how 19th-century British laws gave the government new ways to punish and criminalize same-sex relationships, was expected to go on sale in the United States on June 18, with an announced first print run of 35,000 copies.

The publisher initially stood by Ms. Wolf last month after an embarrassing on-air correction to her interpretation of historical records occurred during an interview with the BBC. Now, the company is taking the extreme step of recalling copies from retailers.

. . . .

The blowback against Ms. Wolf was swift after the BBC Radio host, Matthew Sweet, revealed a critical error in her book that undermined her thesis. During the interview, Wolf told him that she found “several dozen executions” of men accused of having sexual relations with other men.

“I don’t think you’re right about this,” he said.

Mr. Sweet said that Ms. Wolf had misunderstood the legal term “death recorded” as an execution, when in fact it meant that a death sentence was not carried out.

“It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon,” Mr. Sweet said. “I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.”

Ms. Wolf said she would look into the records in question and correct future editions, noting that the issue Mr. Sweet raised was “a really important thing to investigate.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt initially called the mistaken number of executions an “unfortunate error” but said, “we believe the overall thesis of the book ‘Outrages’ still holds.”

It wasn’t the first time Ms. Wolf has been questioned over the accuracy of her research and analysis. Known for books such as “The Beauty Myth” and “Vagina: A New Biography,” she has been called out in the past for vastly overstating the number of women who die from anorexia and for making dubious claims about female biology.

But the errors in “Outrages” appear to be more grave, given that Ms. Wolf’s publisher is taking the costly step of recalling finished copies, a rare measure that is usually only undertaken for books that contain fatal factual flaws or other more serious transgressions. In 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recalled books by the journalist Jonah Lehrer after evidence surfaced that he had fabricated quotes and plagiarized.

. . . .

Publishers often rely on authors to verify material in their books, and if fact checkers are used, it is typically at the author’s discretion and expense.

Recently, questions have arisen about the accuracy of books by other major nonfiction authors, including Jared Diamond and Michael Wolff, who was called out in an interview for errors in his new book about the Trump administration, “Siege: Trump Under Fire.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

PG was reminded about the old saying attributed to a newspaper editor, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Books That Every Engineering Manager Should Read

13 June 2019

From freeCodeCamp:

It’s a rare occasion that companies provide leadership training before you become a manager. A few days or weeks after what was probably one of the happiest days in your recent memory, the day you were offered a position outside of the individual contributor track, you find yourself with a million questions. You feel that you were tricked into signing something without reading the fine print.

That feeling you’re experiencing isn’t new, it’s just that you’ve all but forgotten it. It’s not knowing what you’re supposed to do. It’s being clueless. Because if you think years of writing software trained you to become a manager, research states the contrary. But it’s not the end of the world. Even though your company most likely doesn’t understand the need for formal management training, there is a plethora of information available to you that will make your job easier, and maybe even enjoyable.

When I became a manager I did what I typically do when faced with a challenge I know almost nothing about: I started reading. I’ve read a lot of books, some were good, a few of them were amazing. All of them shaped the way I do my job, and so I thought I would share them for other aspiring or active managers out there.

I’ve curated this list based on several factors:

  • The books should cover a broad set of engineering management and leadership topics. It’s easy to find overlapping books. It is much harder to find a diversity of information when you’re very new to leadership.
  • They should be written in different eras. The software industry is constantly evolving. It doesn’t make sense to only read about what was happening in the 1980s or 90s.
  • Reading order matters a lot. Some books are more specialized than others. The information provided can be thought of as layers that stack on top of each other. If you’re inexperienced, you may start in the middle or the end, and that will basically ruin other books for you.
  • Finally, I put a hard limit of 7, just because I think this list is enough to build a foundation layer on top of which you can continue reading and maybe even doing your own research further on.

. . . .

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, by Tom DeMarco & Tim Lister

This should be mandatory reading for everyone. Period. No, not just everyone in software, everyone working in a private company should read this book. It’s amazing to me how pretty much all of the problems that people deal with it on a daily basis have already been solved. In the 1980s. If you read just one book from this list, let it be this one.

. . . .

Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert B. Cialdini

An engineering manager’s job is to ensure their team has everything it needs to succeed. This means managing the interaction between multiple groups of people towards an agreeable outcome.

If you’ve ever tried to convince a friend to move from WhatsApp to Telegram and failed, you’ve made an attempt at exerting influence. You’ll need to do that basically every day, and in my experience, this is a very hard skill to learn. It takes a lot of practice, and there’s really no sandbox mode in which you can fail and it’ll be OK. You will try to talk to someone at some point into doing something, and you will fail, and you or your team will suffer for it.

This book is the definitive guide on how to approach the problem scientifically. A lot of managers seem to think they don’t need to learn how to influence others, particularly their direct reports, as rank is the ultimate influencer. Thinking that will keep you from ever becoming a great leader, in my opinion. Yes, you will probably overrule someone at some point and it will feel terrific while you do it. But if that person ends up hating you for it, you’ve just lost their trust and you will see the consequences of that later on.

Link to the rest at freeCodeCamp

Last D-Day Veterans Make Poignant Return to Normandy

6 June 2019
Comments Off on Last D-Day Veterans Make Poignant Return to Normandy

From The Wall Street Journal:

Pvt. Jack Port thought he was fighting the war to end all wars when he stormed Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. Seventy-five years later he sees a world again in conflict.

Pvt. Port was part of the biggest amphibious invasion in history. It laid the foundations of the trans-Atlantic alliance that has underpinned decades of trade and security ties across the West.

That world order is under strain as President Trump and other world leaders gather in Normandy on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing. From Mr. Trump to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leaders around the world are prioritizing domestic interests over international cooperation and marginalizing bodies created to referee disputes among great powers, from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.

“I’m very disappointed, and I hate leaving the world feeling this way,” said Mr. Port, now 97 years old.

This year only a few dozen American D-Day veterans are returning to Normandy, said Scott Desjardins, superintendent of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II. The average age of D-Day veterans returning to Normandy this year is 96. Less than 4% of World War II veterans are still alive, and few can muster the strength to travel.

. . . .

President Trump read an excerpt from the prayer that President Franklin Roosevelt delivered by radio on June 6, 1944.

Queen Elizabeth II told the audience when she attended the 60th anniversary of D-Day, many believed it would be the last such commemoration.“But the wartime generation—my generation—is resilient,” declared the 93-year-old queen.

. . . .

Pvt. Port, then 22, had just completed 12 weeks of training camp in California, where he grew up. At home, guns weren’t allowed.

“They took me as a punk high school kid, and converted me into a combat soldier,” said Mr. Port.

He had no idea where he was headed. He had heard about Hitler but wasn’t really interested in politics.

. . . .

“At the time I was just a kid. I wanted to chase girls,” he said.

. . . .

British Sgt. John Rushton, now 95, was one of the first men to reach Sword Beach on D-Day, arriving early in the morning on a landing craft carrying tanks and ammunition. As soon as the tanks got off the landing craft, they started sinking in the sand and the tracks came off.

“That was the end of it,” said Sgt. Rushton. But the troops salvaged the ammunition and delivered it into battle. Sgt. Rushton tries to return every year to visit the grave of a British comrade who didn’t make it.

. . . .

“I didn’t want any medals, I just wanted to survive,” Mr. Hurd said.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

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