About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, (JPROF.com) a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self-publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker, and beekeeper -- among other things. Subscribe to his weekly newsletter at http://www.jprof.com .
Author Archive | Jim Stovall

Axis Sally, the broadcasting voice that worked for the other side

In the late 1940s very few people knew the name Mildred Gillars, but the whole world seemingly knew her nickname: Axis Sally. Part of the reason she remained famous, or rather infamous, in the years after the war was that the United States government — in the throes of the Cold War —had decided to […]

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King William’s War and the first paper money issued in America

The little-known King William’s War (1688-1697) was but one of a series of conflicts in colonial history that pitted English settlers in New England against French settlers in Canada. It was a war of raid and retaliation, and its brutality was frequent and shocking. Tragically, its result was simply the status quo that had been […]

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Billy Wilder, a journalist before he was a screenwriter or director

The great movie director Billy Wilder, whose six Academy Awards rank him among the best who have ever stood behind a camera and told the people in front of it what to do – was once asked during an interview for a biographer the accomplishment for which she was most proud. The answer from Wilder, […]

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Billy Wilder the journalist, what happens when you rule the world, and many readers react: newsletter, May 7, 2021

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, May 7, 2021. No one, I hope, would accuse me of being an arch-conservative when it comes to the language, although I might have those tendencies when it comes to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. With diction (the choice of words and phrases […]

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The Army gets it right, Eleanor gets an audience, and the love triangle scandal of the 1870s: newsletter, April 30, 2021

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, April 30, 2021. Nature is doing its random best, as usual, to confound us. Where I live, we had two nights of frost last week — unheard of after mid-April. Fortunately, the cooler temperatures this spring have prevented us from putting anything […]

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Norman Mailer: Larger-than-life colossus of 20th century American letters

When Norman Mailer was 20 years old in 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. A precocious student, he had just graduated from Harvard University. He had initially majored in engineering, but he took writing and literature courses as his electives. During his undergraduate days, he had published his first story, “The Greatest Thing […]

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Henry Ward Beecher and the love triangle that gripped the public in the 1870s

If your emotions we’re caught up in the swirl surrounding Meghan and Harry . . . If your feelings were buffeted by the off-again on-again relationship of J.Lo and A-Rod . . . Then you should have been alive in the 1870s when public domestic squabbles were very good. A few weeks ago in this […]

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The first man in space, a controversial Union advocate, and possibly reviving the Verse and Vision videos: newsletter, April 23, 2021

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, April 23, 2021. The ongoing fight to make public records public traditionally has been led by state press associations and independent members of the news media. As such, it has been viewed by state legislators and the public at large as self-serving. […]

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Anna Ella Carroll, strategic mastermind or relentless self-promoter?

Was Anna Ella Carroll the “military genius,” the “strategic mastermind,” and the “forgotten heroine” of the American Civil War that many of her adherents claim? What she the shadow member of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, unacknowledged because of her gender? Or was she simply a relentless self-promoter? Much time and effort among historians, both professional and […]

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Rolling Stone identifies the top 100 Motown hits

The editors of Rolling Stone have done us Motown aficionados a solid favor by identifying the top 100 — that’s right, a cool hundred — Motown hits and tell us some of the stories behind the music. You know the list is a good one when the 100th song on the list is “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson […]

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Sherwood Anderson: Hemingway’s mentor and object of his ridicule

Even if you are the most avid Ernest Hemingway fan on your city block or country road, chances are you have not read his novel The torrents of spring. The novel itself is probably not worth reading, but the story behind it is worth knowing because of what it tells us about Hemingway the human being. […]

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Rose Dugdale and the stolen Vermeer

Rose Dugdale’s life, in the 1950s and 1960s, seemed to be on a straight path of privilege, success, and accomplishment. Dugdale had been born in 1941 to an upper-class family in Great Britain. She spent her early years on vast ancestral estates and grew up to be a beautiful and pleasant young lady. When she […]

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Deliberate Practice: the road to getting better

Too often, when we are complimenting a work of artistry, we say the person who produced it has “talent.” But such a comment — without our meaning it to be — is dismissive rather than complimentary. What it dismisses is the amount of time and hard work that has gone into producing the artistry. It […]

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Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space 60 years ago this month

Sixty years ago this month, a Russian named Yuri Gagarin shocked the world by leaving it – and then returning 108 minutes later. Gargarin, a Russian cosmonaut, became the first human to escape the earth’s bounds by blasting into space aboard a Soviet Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961. Prior to the Soviet announcement of […]

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Sherwood Anderson, deliberate practice, and the stolen Vermeer: newsletter, April 16, 2021

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, April 16, 2021. The six-hour Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary on Ernest Hemingway has sparked hundreds of articles (including one below) and tens of thousands of comments about the man, his writing, and his life. Hemingway died 60 years ago, but his work […]

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Hemingway’s month, Rolling Stone’s Motown list, and a podcast recommendation: newsletter, April 9, 2021

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,368) on Friday, April 9, 2021.   The concept of ownership is so deeply embedded in our minds that, if we think about it at all, we probably consider it part of the natural world around us. It isn’t. It is a human concept. Even […]

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We’re into April, Ernest Hemingway month

April 2021 will undoubtedly be the month of Ernest Hemingway, thanks in no small measure to the six-hour documentary produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and broadcast on the Public Broadcast System this week. Indeed, if you look on the PBS website, it seems to be all-Hemingway, all-the-time. Once again, Burns and Novick selected a […]

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‎Podcast recommendation: Spy Affair from Wondery

Podcast producer Wondery has come up with what sounds like another winning series: Spy Affair. It’s the story of Russian operative Maria Butina, who came to America and inserted herself into politics at the time that Donald Trump was on the rise within the Republican Party. Here’s part of the official description: A charismatic Russian […]

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Elizabeth Cochran Seaman – Nellie Bly: allowing the girls to dream

When Elizabeth Cochran was 16 years old, she lived with her family in Pittsburgh. The year was 1880, and Elizabeth was intelligent and precocious. The Pittsburgh Dispatch ran an article titled “What Girls are Good For,” and the author concluded the girls were good for having babies and keeping house. It was not an unpopular […]

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Wanda Gág and her Millions of Cats

Illustrator-genius Wanda Gág (pronunciation: rhymes with “bog”) must have liked cats. Her most famous book was Millions of Cats, published in 1928 and for many years as much a part of a child’s literary shelf as Goodnight, Moon or Where the Wild Things Are are today. Millions of Cats was not only a wildly popular book (which still sells well today), but it […]

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