Last weekend our local newspaper included a special supplement marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. I started reading and couldn’t stop: the writing is that good. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of one article – “The Siege of Berlin”
The dawning of the year 1945 saw Hitler’s Third Reich tottering and ready to fall….But as anyone who has ever swung an axe on a big tree can tell you, you just have to keep hacking away….And even the strongest lumberjack finds out that it almost always takes longer than he thought it would. That is a good way to think about the situation the Allies faced in 1945.
The next paragraph promised that the article would cover “a sustained series of Allied blows that chopped down the Germany arm and killed it.” That prepares you to read the rest of the article: you know what’s coming. [English teachers would probably call it a thesis statement.]
This is great writing. The word choices are strong and vigorous: tottering, swung, hacking, chopped, killed. Sentences are clear and straightforward, and readability scores range from the fifth to the eighth grade.
Most important, there’s solid content here. Even though I’ve been interested in World War II for many years (and spent some time at the Normandy invasion beaches), a lot of the information was new and intriguing.
To my astonishment, the writing in every article in the supplement is just as good.
Rob Citino – author of “The Siege of Berlin” is from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, and so are the other writers. (I’m wondering: do you have to pass a writing test to work there?)