Well, what do you think? Does a grouse fly faster than a golden plover? They’re both game birds, popular with hunters in Europe, and in 1950 they were the subject of this debate — or rather, argument — that Sir Hugh Beaver was having with his hunting buddies. Beaver was the managing director of Guinness Brewery. How do […]
File this under The American Road, History Division. Paul Revere, we all know, is famous for riding through the night of April 18-19, 1775, spreading the alarm “to every Middlesex village and farm,” letting everyone know that the British Army, too, was hitting the road, and things were about to turn nasty. (More on that […]
Non-mathematicians, such as myself (and maybe you), may have thought that zero was a logical extension of any numerical system, but that isn’t so. Mathematics is an all-too-human construct. And the concept of zero — that is, nothing — had to be constructed. It turns out that this construction comes from India, according to Mariellen […]
John Pendleton Kennedy is a man who lived in the 1830s in Baltimore, and chances are, you have never heard of him. That’s okay, but without Kennedy, who acted as a lifeline — a literary guardian angel, if you will — you might never have heard of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe lived a scant 40 […]
In 1918, John Singer Sargent, 62, was a world-renowned artist, a man famous for his vision, technique, and talent. He could easily have turned down the request from the British government that he go to France and to produce a piece of artwork that would commemorate the alliance between Britain and America that would eventually […]
Here’s a website for us bibliophiles who also love lists (and who doesn’t?): Five Books. Here’s what it’s about in their own words: We ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview. This site has an archive of more than one thousand interviews, or five […]
When Agatha Christie was living in London during World War II, she wasn’t sure she was going to survive. The Blitz by the German air force had inflicted heavy damage on London’s capital city, and thousands of people had died. Christie believed she might eventually be among them. She was famous, and so were her […]
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — tagged by no less than Dorothy L. Sayers as the “very finest detective story ever written” — is the August selection for The Guardian’s reading group. The Moonstone is the first of the great English detective novels. The Guardian’s Sam Jordison, moderator of the reading group, says: It’s 150 years […]
Everybody speaks English. Or they should. That’s the attitude that many English speakers have, and sometimes they’re not shy about expressing that attitude (in English, of course). Jacob Mikanowski writes about this attitude in a long and interesting essay this week in The Guardian. He says: No language in history has been used by so many […]
When Wiliam Herbert Wallace returned to his Liverpool home from work one January night in 1931, he found his wife Julia dead on the floor of the parlor, her head caved in by a heavy object and her blood spread across the room. Deanna Cioppa, a writer and editor and fan of true-crime stories, has all […]
If you were a traveler along the famous Route 66 in the late 1940s and you wanted a first-class place to stay the night, you couldn’t do better than the Boots Court Motel in Carthage, Missouri. Not only would you have a room with the most modern conveniences — a “radio in every room,” they […]
Perhaps you saw this article (which has been taken down): An economics professor wrote on Forbes this past weekend that public libraries should be replaced by Amazon. The sheer idiocy of the idea is obvious, but it gave Amanda Oliver, a librarian, an opportunity to outline succinctly some of the services that Amazon never could, or […]
You’re accused of a crime. You didn’t do it. The prosecutor is aggressive; she says there’s ample evidence to convict you. You and your attorney go over the evidence. He says there are procedural errors in the way the evidence has been acquired, and all in all, he doesn’t believe the case is all that […]
This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,251) on July 27, 2018 The summer is fully upon us here in East Tennessee — heat, humidity, and tomatoes. We always plant far more tomato plants than we need, and we are always surprised, with a bit of mock-horror thrown in, at how […]
Our recent trek to the West took us along the old Route 66, nicknamed the Mother Road for its role in getting people to a new life during the Depression and giving people the pleasure of a road trip in the two decades after that. All along Interstate 40 — some of which was built […]
If you were an African-American in the 1940s and you wanted to participate in state and local politics, rural Georgia was not a kind or forgiving place. In fact, it could be very dangerous. That’s the story told by Hank Klibanoff, a journalist and now faculty member at Emory University in Atlanta, in the Buried […]
The battle of Shiloh during two April days in 1862 proved to William Tecumseh Sherman that he could be what he always wanted to be – a success. See Two failures who save each other – and then saved the nation (part 1). Sherman had not been successful at very much during his adult life. […]
If you grew up, as I did, in a household where you heard stories from the Bible, the phrase “cedars of Lebanon” has special meaning. They were trees used in building King Solomon’s temple. That temple had the best of everything, so nothing but the best cedars would do. And the best cedars came from […]
Well into his adult life, Cump Sherman considered himself a failure. So did others. He had attended West Point and had accomplished some relative successes in his military career. But when he left the army, he proceeded to fail at everything he tried. His health — he suffered from asthma — and his mental stability were […]
Let’s see: It’s hardback > paperback, >ebook > audiobook. That’s the natural sequence of things, right? Maybe, maybe not. A growing number of authors are rejecting this sequence and going straight to the . . . audiobook. That’s what this recent article in the New York Times says. It uses non-fiction author Michael Lewis as an example. […]
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