<p>Members of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force One (NE-TF1) remove an infant from a rescue boat in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.</p>

Hurricane news: it’s not always what you think – or what you hear

OntheMedia, the radio show about all things journalism, has produced an excellent piece to counter some of the predictable narrative that you are likely to hear as we approach another season in which high winds and waves slam into various parts of the U.S. Members of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force One […]

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JohnTrumbull

Trumbull’s portrait of Washington at West Point: marvelous art with an even better story (part 2)

Artist John Trumbull had been in London only a short time in 1780 when he started working on a full-length portrait Great Britain’s arch American enemy George Washington. Trumbull, a former colonel in the Continental Army, was clearly violating the pledge he made to British officials not to participate in political activities. Ostensibly, he was […]

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An offer you can’t refuse: The Guardian’s top 10 books about gangsters

If you’re like me, you’re a bit of a sucker for “top 10” or “10 best” lists — especially when it comes to books about topics that interest me. So here’s a good one. Crime novelist Ron Reynolds has written an intelligent and entertaining piece for The Guardian on his top 10 books about gangsters. […]

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WoodrowWilson

Great art and an even better story behind it: John Trumbull, the Revolutionary War painter; newsletter, July 6, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on July 6, 2018 Note: We’re on a road trip from East Tennessee to the Western states, and that will take a couple of weeks. Consequently, this newsletter is shorter than usual. I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to a […]

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WoodrowWilson

The Great War, Woodrow Wilson, and the savaging of the idea of America

Wilson, in declaring war on Germany in 1917, also declared war on a good portion of America as well.

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HarrietBeecherStowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thomas Dixon, and a couple of examples of excellent journalism: newsletter, June 29, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,238) on June 8, 2018 First an apology: Many of you with Gmail addresses received last week’s newsletter with a big red warning label at the top and no way to click on the links. When I began to hear from you about it on […]

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WashingtonbyTrumbull

Trumbull’s portrait of Washington at West Point: marvelous art with an even better story (part 1)

It’s one of the best paintings of George Washington that you have probably never seen. And the story behind it is even more interesting than the painting. The painting is John Trumbull‘s portrait of George Washington at West Point. Washington is pictured in a heroic stance with his slave/servant Billy Lee to his left and the […]

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JohnCarreyrou

American Fire and Bad Blood: two excellent pieces of journalism

Good journalism is hard to do — I have said this many times — and when I find some, I tend to pay some attention. A couple of examples of excellent long-form journalism that I have come across lately are American Fire by Monica Hesse and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. American Fire: Love, Arson […]

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Podcasts on the rise

A survey across multiple countries shows that podcast are on the rise. People love audio, and they listen. Overall, a third of our sample (34%) listens to a news-related podcast at least monthly but there are significant country differences. In Asian countries like South Korea (58%) and Taiwan (55%), strong smartphone penetration together with high […]

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HarrietBeecherStowe

The greatest American novel

Suffice it to say that Uncle Tom’s Cabin took over the American mind (and many minds beyond America’s shores), and the novel has held its grip on a portion of that mind ever since. Immediately after its publication, the debate about slavery — and ultimately the debate about America — was never the same.

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The New York Times gets buzzed by the bee fad

The New York Times is often cited by me as a balanced, thoroughly researched, and well-written source of information. But in a recent article about the supposed health benefits of bee products  (The Wellness World’s Buzzy New Best Friend – The New York Times), such as honey and pollen, the Times reporter, who shall go […]

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ThomasDixon

Thomas Dixon: a writer on the wrong side of history

Sometimes a successful writer, both in his life and in his writing, gets it all wrong. Such was the case with Thomas Dixon. Dixon was born in 1864 in North Carolina and grew up during the Reconstruction era as an unreconstructed Southerner. He attended Wake Forest and later Johns Hopkins, where he befriended a young […]

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CharlotteBronte

Rebecca West, Churchill, an artistic challenge, and harvesting honey: newsletter, June 22, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,263) on June 8, 2018 Our lives these days seem to go in lots of different directions at once. Some folks are bothered by that, saying it doesn’t allow them to focus and concentrate. In my life, however, I find it interesting and exciting. Last […]

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Harvesting honey: the hard work of beekeeping

The day we harvest honey always proves to be the most physically demanding day of the year. That day occurred last Friday (June 15).

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RebeccaWest

The Guardian’s reading group book for June: Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier

The Guardian’s online reading group is exploring Rebecca West’s first novel, The Return of the Soldier, published in 1918. The Return of the Soldier: an incendiary, formidable debut | Books | The Guardian The book was a ground-breaking work, according to Sam Jordison, the group’s director: On the way to (an) unsettling conclusion, West packs […]

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JRRTolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, Seymour Hersh, courtroom sketch artists, a D-Day remembrance, and more: newsletter June 15, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on June 8, 2018 This is the Week of the Bees in our household. After a slow-starting spring (I’ve complained about that previously), the blooms came in abundance, and the bees had plenty of reasons to forage outside the hives. That they did. I […]

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MrChurchill

Churchill: the man who loved to write

We know him as a great statesman, the man who led the fight against Nazi Germany, the one who provided the lion of Great Britain its roar (as he once put it). He gave voice to the grit and determination of the British Empire when it went through its darkest hour. But Winston Churchill, being […]

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JRRTolkien

Tolkien exhibit looks into a vast imagination

In 1930 J.R.R. Tolkien, a veteran of the trenches in World War I and by then a professor at Oxford University, was marking student papers when he noticed that one of the exam books had a blank page at the end. On that page he wrote: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” […]

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The courtroom sketch artist: art in a pressure-cooker

Courtroom sketch artists are people who can draw (or paint) quickly, accurately depicting what they see and unafraid to allow others — maybe millions of others — to see what they have done. They work under seemingly impossible deadlines, sometimes only a few minutes, at best a few hours. There’s very little chance of editing or […]

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SeymourHersh

Spending his life as a ‘Reporter’: Seymour Hersh 

My Lai. If you know anything at all about the war in Vietnam, you know this word. It was the village where more than 100 unarmed civilians were killed by American soldiers during a 1968 offensive. The word has taken on literal and symbolic meaning. We might not know the word at all if it […]

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