What has practically every story you’ve read or heard during the last couple of weeks about the college admissions scandal had in common? The journalists and commentators have consistently used the terms elite colleges or elite universities. They have done without any critical assessment of the terms themselves, and therein lies a problem — possibly The Problem. We […]
If you were an avid reader of mystery novels in the 1960s, you were probably aware of three female mystery writers more than any others: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Emma Lathen. Emma Lathen? While Christie and Sayers have achieved immortality in the realms of mystery fiction, Lathen has all but disappeared. Yet her […]
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,875) on Friday, March 15, 2019. The news of this week of a major scandal in the collegiate admissions process has captured, and in some cases (mine) captivated, the attention of the nation, and rightly so. Having spent much of my adult life […]
The Belfast Project’s secret tapes, Facebook’s (and our) profound mistake, and more on America’s first female detective: newsletter, March 8, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,884) on Friday, March 8, 2019. March is not the most reliable of months weatherwise in East Tennessee — not like January or July. More often than not, the first week of March is balmy, giving us a little pre-spring, if you will. […]
Kate Warne wanted to become an actress. A Canadian by birth, she found herself in the mid-1850s in Chicago and recently widowed. Then she saw an advertisement, and it changed her direction and an entire profession. The ad was from the Pinkerton Detective Agency and said agents were being hired. It said nothing about “male […]
If the name of Kate Warne is unknown to you, you’re not alone. Most of the world has never heard of her, that is too bad — particularly with those of us in the detective-fiction-to-true-crime crowd. Kate Warne, as far as we can tell, is the first woman ever hired as a fulltime, true-to-life detective. […]
Who was Jack the Ripper — possibly the most famous murderer in history? Decades of evidence and speculation have surrounded that question and provided no definitive answer. But for Hallie Rubenhold, author of the recently-published The Five, that’s not the important question. The really important question is this: Who were his victims? We know their […]
The Troubles is how everyone refers to it — the violence that wracked Northern Ireland for much of the latter half of the 20th century. It was a vicious and violent time that produced few heroes and no honor. All three sides in the confict — the Catholics, the Protestants, and the British Army — committed […]
You could argue that everything is plagiarized. Nothing is original. Mark Twain did, as Alison Flood points out that the beginning of her excellent article on plagiarism in the Guardian this week (Secondhand books: the murky world of literary plagiarism | Books | The Guardian): “As if there was much of anything in any human […]
Lincoln’s first inaugural, the best-selling mystery writer you’ve never heard of, podcasts and more: newsletter, Feb. 22, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,914) on Friday, February 22, 2019. Still painting, still writing, still editing, still reading — if I can do those things, then the massive amount of rain that East Tennessee has been getting fades is not as significance as it might be otherwise. It’s also […]
Football is still the most popular sport on American television, but the thrill of the game seems somehow diminished. Professional football has taken some serious hits during the past few years: divisive political controversies, misconduct of players, the continued and illogical denial by the NFL of links between on-field play and concussion effects, low ratings, […]
When Robert Galbraith finished The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first of the C.B. Strike series, the book was sent to a publisher for consideration. It was rejected. That likely happened again — but we don’t know how many times. We do know that it was accepted by Sphere Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, and […]
Pablo Casals on staying young, an interesting blast from the past, and post-prison rehab: newsletter, Feb. 8, 2019
This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,912) on Friday, February 8, 2019. This week’s newsletter takes a short break from writers and writing (mostly) and explores a couple of other topics, such as post-prison rehabilitation and the interesting story of a 1960s folk music classic. But you can […]
If you feel that you are piling up the birthdays and that you are “growing old” — a phrase that has become part of our natural conversation these days — consider the words of Pablo Casals, the famous cellist: On my last birthday I was ninety-three years old. That is not young, of course. In […]
Robert Caro’s interviewing trick; something new in Nashville; and reader recommendations for the cold winter: newsletter, Feb. 1, 2019
This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (x) on Friday, February 1, 2019. Despite snow interruptions in East Tennessee (and much, much worse elsewhere), this has been a busy week of discoveries and revelations. Another volume in the Baseball Joe series has been uploaded — see the list below […]
Robert Caro’s magisterial four volumes on Lyndon Johnson is, in my view, one of the great works of nonfiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. They will stand for many decades as an amazing work of prose and scholarship. Volume 4, which covers Johnson’s vice presidency and his taking over the presidency after the assassination […]
Those interested in the deep history of the English language will want to take a look at this article on the BBC website: BBC – Culture – What the earliest fragments of English reveal. And if you’re in London anytime soon will want to view the exhibit it describes at the British Library. The exhibit, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, […]
Some years ago, the BBC produced a 90-minute documentary on the parallel lives and careers of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone titled Gladstone and Disraeli: Clash of the Titans. (You can watch it on YouTube, irritatingly divided into six 15-minute segments with the first here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4CHsWMV3Es) When it comes to 19th-century British politics, the title is […]
The unfair fate of Bulwer-Lytton; Margaret Drabble and Benjamin Disraeli; the week of the Brits: newsletter, January 25, 2019
This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,918) on Friday, January 25, 2019. The newsletter this week has a decidedly British flavor to it. That was not deliberate, but I’m pretty pleased with the way that things have turned out. How can you go wrong with Margaret Drabble, J.K. […]
The images are indelible: large bonfires fueled by books with Nazi soldiers and citizens tossing them into the flames. Flames, of course, do not destroy information or ideas, and the Nazis understood this as well as anyone. That’s why the Nazis stole far more books than they burned. Libraries of Jewish families who fell under […]
In this week’s newsletter
Read about the new book Ole Bert: Sage of the Smokies that Jim has just edited and produced for the Blount County Public Library.
Point Spread on Amazon
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Since 2004 JPROF.com has been providing journalism instructors and students with material and ideas for teaching and learning journalism. Jim Stovall is the site's creator and operator.
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