The Art of War – The Art of Loving

By Carol / February 26, 2014 /

Movies, reading & walking across Iowa uncover surprising connections.

Art and history, love and war intersect as I continue my virtual trek across Iowa.

There can’t be many who haven’t heard about the movie Monuments Men, George Clooney’s film about the men who set out to save art during WWII. Here in Iowa, we’re getting special insight because the real Monuments Man, the man on whom the movie is based – George Leslie Stout – was born and grew up in Winterset, Iowa, and later graduated from the University of Iowa.

I’ve looked ahead as I continue my walk across Iowa, looking for just the right point to cross Interstate 80. (As though that would be really hard in my virtual world.) Nonetheless, when I realized I could pass through Winterset before heading north to cross the Interstate barrier, I thought why not? 

Now that The Bridges of Madison County (a book and a movie) has been made into a Broadway musical, and received some critical acclaim, I better see the bridges again before the tourists take over!

140px-34th_'Red_Bull'_Infantry_Division_SSI.svgAs I head toward Winterset, I’m enjoying other military history as I walk along the Red Bull Highway. The 34th Infantry Division of the Army National Guard, made up of military primarily from Iowa and Minnesota, served in World War I, World War II, Iraq and Afghanistan. The insignia of the division is a Red Bull designed by Iowa artist Marvin Cone.

As I look back on the titles that have passed through my hands this month, the overriding question is, What does it mean to love? Appropriate, don’t you think, since this is February, the month of love?

Setting the stage is a non-fiction work, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. A psychologist, Fromm explores love and loving in 120 pages packed with explorations of love in all its forms – parents for children, brotherly love, erotic love, self-love and love of God.

Fromm proposes that true love holds four elements in common: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. The other books I read – both fiction and non-fiction – show how difficult it is to find true love,


  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This seriously disturbing novel explores the idea that “Marriage can be a real killer.” In alternating chapters, we come to know the husband in real time and the wife through her diary entries. Did he kill her or was she kidnapped and murdered? The tension in this novel is palpable and all of us can only pray we do not encounter a love like theirs.
  • safe keeping sisselSafe Keeping by Barbara Taylor Sissel –  “My son is a murderer,” begins this family drama. Emily tries to say these words about the son who has given their family so much heartache. But she doesn’t believe it. Her mother love could never believe it. They just have to prove it. Sissel draws characters with depth and a plot with complexity. She is a master at dropping clues that inform and confound. Her cliff-hanger chapter endings compel you to keep reading. (I was fortunate to receive an advance review copy. The novel is due out in late March.)

Non Fiction

  • Twelves Years a Slave by Soloman Northrup – I have yet to see the movie and I grabbed  the e-book when it I saw it in a promotion. This first-person account of a free black man who is kidnapped and thrown into slavery causes one to despair of man’s inability to love his fellow man.

Late-breaking news (literally): I end this post abruptly because winter has taken its toll. I slipped on the ice and broke my wrist. As a result, I am reduced to typing with one finger, so my blog will be on hiatus for a few weeks. When I return, I trust spring will be here. In the meantime, happy reading and safe walking!

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  1. historywithatwist on February 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Carol, Interesting article. I like the sound of GIllian Flynn’s book. I’m sorry to hear about your accident. If you want you can forward me some tweets and I’ll send them out for you,.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on February 26, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Thx, David. You’d like Flynn’s book, though I use “like” advisedly!

  2. paulette mahurin on February 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Interesting tribute to Iowa. I didn’t know The Bridges of Madison County was made into a musical. I loved that movie, interesting pairing of Streep and Eastwood but it worked. I have a lot of family that lived in Fairfield for quite a while, near the meditation school where they sent their children. My one cousin set up a marvelous bagel shop, Zadie’s bagels, that was well known there. Ever been there? Sending you a cyber hug. Paulette

    • Carol Bodensteiner on February 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      The musical is brand new. Getting good reviews for score.

      I’ve been to Fairfield often, but not to Zadie’s. I’ll check it out.

      Thx for the hug. I need them all!

  3. Persia Woolley on March 6, 2014 at 1:18 am

    What a fine post, though I co-miserate with those who send their best wishes for a good healing of your wrist. “The Art of Loving” is one of my favorites of all times…nice to see it mentioned here as it doesn’t seem to surface in this current generation all that much. Will be glad to follow future posts.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on March 6, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Persia. The wrist is coming along fine. I was happy a friend recommended “The Art of Loving” to me. It deserved much more space than I gave it and I may revisit in a future post. Fromm’s analysis was enlightening.

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