Book Review: The Last Leaf

As the owner of a historical document firm, Lutz knows history is more then a dusty recitation of past events, it is also about people. By searching out and interviewing the last known survivors of key events in the twentieth century, Lutz adds the rapidly disappearing human experience and perspective of thirty-nine ordinary people in extraordinary times. Four main chapters include Witnesses to Great History, Survivors, Witnesses to Technological Innovation and Athletes and Entertainers. The events are as varied as the people who lived through them. There is Gertrude Janeway, the last Union widow; John Fulton, one of the Hindenburg ground crew; Robert Halgrim who worked with Thomas Edison; Nazi death camp escapee Esther Raab and Paul Hopkins, the last living pitcher to have given up a home run to Babe Ruth’s 1927 season.

Taking ten years to compile, this collection of vignettes puts a human face on events like the women’s suffrage movement, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and performing in a Marx Brothers movie. Thoroughly researched and thoughtfully presented, each stroll down memory lane is brief enough to be read in just a few minutes and can be enjoyed in random order making this an ideal summer book.

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