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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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David Douglas Duncan, the photographer every photojournalist aspired to be

If you were a news photographer in the 20th century, you probably wanted to be like David Douglas Duncan — courageous, fearless, adventurous, and constantly seeing what others don’t see. Duncan died this past week at the age of 102. His legacy of photography — particularly combat photography — is unmatched. Here’s part of what […]

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WilsonasSherlock-2

The president and the detective novel – a continuing love story

The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Coming to your physical and digital bookstore in June. Watch for it. Pre-order from Amazon if you like. This won’t be the first time that a president has ventured into the mystery/detective/thriller genre, as Clay Fehrman points out in an interesting and enlightening article in […]

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Dostoyevsky and the current ‘true-crime’ craze 

Interest in true-crime and the justice system is not a new thing. It dates back to Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was a victim of the judiciary system of his time. That’s the view of Jennifer Wilson, who has an interesting article in the New York Times: Dostoyevsky was obsessed with the judiciary. He spent […]

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LouisaMayAlcott

Louisa May Alcott, journalist

Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic of American literature Little Women, was for a brief time in her life Louisa May Alcott, journalist. Despite the picture presented in her famous novel, Alcott’s childhood and formative years were anything but idyllic. Her family was always on the edge of poverty, and her father, Bronson Alcott, […]

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IMG_1196

Farewell, Philip Roth; Mencken on the language; how we got Sherlock, and more: newsletter, May 25, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,081) on May 25, 2018   Thanks to all who wrote or commented on Facebook about the dulcimer that I made and showed off in last week’s newsletter. I am going to start on another one before long. Sadly, for the second week in a […]

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Do people really write this stuff?

My current reading includes a biography of the Apostle Paul by N.T. Wright, a retired Anglican bishop, a biblical historian, and one of the most prolific scholars of the Bible today. I was reading through some of the Amazon reviews of the book, which generally gets high praise from those who have bought it, and […]

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Michelle McNamara

The Golden State Killer: the book and then the arrest

The arrest recently of a man accused of being the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who haunted California’s neighborhoods and psyche, in the 1970s and 80s, is a story with many threads — including a now best-selling book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by the late Michelle McNamara. McNamara had pursued […]

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Library of Congress

Library of Congress stands fast against America’s strain of anti-intellectualism

The strain of anti-intellectualism that pervades American culture is always at war with those of us who value learning and believe that life is more than just a set of economic facts. We have many valuable and visible allies. One of the most visible is the Library of Congress.

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In case you’re wondering: James Comey’s book sold 600,000 copies in its first week

Comey’s book came out with a well-planned marketing blitz centered around Comey being interviewed by just about every radio, television, and cable show that would have him. And most of them did.

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Bookriot author puts together 50 must-read true-crime books to add to your TBR stack

Katie McLain has done all of us true-crime fans a real service. She has put together 50 of the best true-crime books into one simple list. She writes: What is it about true crime books that are so addicting? Is it a voyeuristic, “train wreck” sort of reading experience? Is it an opportunity to understand […]

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A frame of bees from one of the hives

Starting beehives; surviving March; sketching in the urban; more on Darwin: newsletter April 13, 2018

There is this thing in America known as March Madness. To the untutored among you, that refers to the three-week long national collegiate basketball tournament that has the country mesmerized until the Monday evening (usually the first Monday of April) when the national championship games takes place, and in a few days, you’ve forgotten completely […]

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radioguy

More than just free audiobooks: LibriVox offers plays, poetry, more

William Shakespeare is still on my mind, and I recently thought it was would be cool to listen to some Shakespeare rather than read him. After all, he wrote plays — things that should be seen and heard. Listening to his words should be the consumption mode of choice. What I found was a gold […]

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Girl With the Pearl Earring

A really close look at ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ – really close

The folks at the  Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague, Holland, where the painting resides are taking a really close look these days. They have called in experts from around the world and marshaled all of the technology and machinery they can muster to look as closely — non-invasively — at the painting as they can.

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Hardback books: what’s the point? Money, prestige, space

Hardback books are highly profitable. Publishers reckon they can sell a hardback for twice (or more) the price of a paperback, but a hardback doesn’t cost nearly twice as much to produce.

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The Chandos portrait

Shakespeare’s appearance remains a mystery – but we have lots of clues

We have a general idea of what William Shakespeare looked like, but we do not have a confirmed contemporary portrait of him. Like many other things about The Bard, his appearance remains a mystery.

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samueljohnson

Inside the making of a dictionary

Dictionaries are marvels of any language. But English has resisted the orderly cataloguing that has been routine for many other tongues. Early lexicographers believed they could impose some necessary order on the language by setting down spellings and definitions and making them permanent. But the language quickly showed them who was boss.

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis

A portrait of Jackie Kennedy as a teenager, and then a lawsuit; then there’s a new biography

A portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy, depicting her as a teenager, has appeared in a Long Island art gallery and has sparked a federal lawsuit brought by some of her relatives. The relatives say it is stolen. The art gallery owner says it is not and that he has doubts that the […]

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Point Spread by Jim Stovall

‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and […]

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