The Book of the Week is “Reckless Courage” by William Fuller with Jack Haines, published in 2004. This book focuses on a family living in Stavanger, Norway during World War II. It also provides a bit of Norwegian history. One of the family’s sons, Gunnar, a teenager, risked his life needlessly to irk the enemy in various little ways, out of anger against the German occupation of Norway.
Before getting to the heart of the story, this blogger would like to convey some information about the Norwegian education system (at least during WWII): Students in a given class had the same teacher for their entire seven years in elementary school. Almost all of the teachers were men, and teaching was a highly regarded profession. Most schools started every morning with a Lutheran prayer and hymn.
When Russia invaded Finland in late 1939, Norway sympathized with Finland, as “Norwegians felt a special closeness with the Finns, who they saw as hardy like themselves, not soft and effete like the Danes and Swedes.” October 1942 saw the Gestapo abducting Norwegian Jews– half of whom were assisted by various good-samaritan groups and individuals, in escaping to Sweden.
On more than one occasion, the aforementioned Gunnar, without being caught, was able to relieve German soldiers of their firearms when they had let down their guard. There was a close call, however, when an officer at the hotel where Gunnar worked, threatened to search Gunnar’s house. The teen was shaking in his shoes, as, “In his basement were a machine gun, three pistols, ammunition and a few grenades thrown in for good measure.” Luckily, the officer did not follow through on the threat.
Read the book for more of Gunnar’s adventures and interesting thoughts on how the course of the war was changed by various incidents.