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JohnWesley1

John Wesley, the history of Methodism, and the clash of biographies

Most of what happened to Methodism after John Wesley‘s death in 1791 was highly predictable. Wesley had created Methodism, a religious movement within the Anglican Church, in the 1740s by his interpretative theology, his going outside the church walls to preach to those neglected by the church, and by forming “classes” of his followers who […]

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Teddy Roosevelt: "I am DEE-lighted."

Nigel Hamilton’s FDR, where Joseph Campbell began, John Wesley, and banana peels: newsletter, Aug. 16, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,696) on Friday, August 16, 2019. Two big events this week: the publication of two books that we had been working on for the Friends of the Blount County Library. One is Loyal Mountaineers: The Civil War Memoirs of Will A. McTeer, which we mentioned in the newsletter several […]

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TheVillageBlacksmith

Newsman Bob Considine, the semicolon, the demise of Mad, and another Longfellow poem:newsletter, Aug. 9, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,707) on Friday, August 9, 2019.   Thanks much to those who signed up for a free subscription to American Watercolor magazine on my behalf. I reached the appropriate number and have been offered the possibility of an “ambassadorship,” which means my stuff will be […]

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BobConsidine1

On the line with Bob Considine

Bob Considine, who achieved international fame for his World War II reporting was the consummate journalist: he loved traveling, he loved talking to people, he loved finding information, and — most of all — he loved writing. In his late 60s, he was still working and still writing — mostly on a nationally syndicated column […]

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ToStriveToSeek1

Walking, Arthur Ashe, and a new video: newsletter, Aug. 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,716) on Friday, August 9, 2019. ​ Living well, as any sensible person knows, is not just a matter of diet and exercise. It’s a whole range of behaviors, attitudes, habits, and choices. Susan Saunders and Annabel Streets, two women who have looked deeply into the science […]

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Bouton’s ‘Ball Four,’ mystery recommendations, and Mark Twain’s delight: newsletter, July 26, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,7xx) on Friday, July 26, 2019.   Three weeks ago when we extracted the honey from our beehives, the last part of the process was putting the “wet” frames back onto the hives. These are frames that contain honey, but the amounts are too small […]

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JimBouton1

Bouton’s ‘Ball Four’: a book that afflicted the rich and comfortable of the baseball world

When someone writes a book that thoroughly offends and discomfits people who are well off, in positions of influence, rich, and comfortable, it should merit our attention. That was the case when Jim Bouton, briefly a star pitcher for the New York Yankees, wrote his tell-all memoir Ball Four that centered on stories from inside […]

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Yearningtobreathefree

Summer reading, the huddled masses, ALA’s ‘most challenged’ list, and more: newsletter, July 19, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,727) on Friday, July 19, 2019. Two of the history tomes that I am working my way through this summer are Rick Atkisson’s The British Are Coming and Nigel Hamilton’s The Mantle of Command: FDR at War 1941-42. Both are first volumes of trilogies, one that examines the […]

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EmmaLazarus

Emma Lazarus and the huddled masses

We remember Emma Lazarus — if we remember her name at all — for one thing: the poem “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The two lines from that poem are two that most of us can repeat: “Give me your tired, your poor, […]

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GeorgeWashingtonCarver1

Carver’s rules for life, dethroning King Apostrophe, the author that Agatha Christie ‘remembered’: newsletter, July 12, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,7xx) on Friday, July 12, 2019. {% if subscriber.first_name != blank %} Hello {{ subscriber.first_name }}, {% else %} Hello, {% endif %} The honey harvest was completed last weekend at the Stovall house, and we gathered almost eight gallons of honey from three hives, […]

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GeorgeWashingtonCarver1

George Washington Carver’s rules for living a good life

The great scientist and agronomist George Washington Carver developed some simply formulated rules for living that he presented to his students. They’re worth passing on to you. Be clean both inside and out. Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor. Lose, if need be, without squealing. Win without bragging. Always be […]

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Writing the national anthem, ripping off Dickens, publishing a Civil War memoir: newsletter, July 5, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,747) on Friday, July 5, 2019. I hope that everyone in America (and elsewhere) is having a happy Fourth of July and its aftermath. In America, we celebrate with fireworks, ice cream, baseball, cherry pie, cookouts, and just about anything else we can think of […]

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AntoniaFraser

Antonia Fraser’s writing day

Fortunately for writer and historian Lady Antonia Fraser, she was pronounced as “uppity” when she was a girl attending convent school. The nuns, for some reason she doesn’t specify, didn’t like her. They decided to punish by making her spend her Saturday mornings learning to touch type. “In consequence,” she writes, “I’m a touch typist […]

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Hemingwayandcat

Ernest Hemingway on writing

The spare writing style of Ernest Hemingway has been often analyzed — and too often imitated — by many observers and commentators. It is unique. There is nothing like it in the English language, and when Hemingway emerged as an important and eventually well-known writer in the post-Great War era of the 1920s, the style […]

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AntoniaFraser

Hemingway on writing, Fraser at writing, counterfeit books, and a podcast: newsletter, June 28, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,7xx) on Friday, June 28, 2019. The great satisfaction of a project nearing completion came for me this week with the arrival of proof copies of Loyal Mountaineers: The Civil War Memoirs of Will McTeer. McTeer left his home near the Great Smoky Mountains in […]

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McTeer-front cover

Will McTeer and his Civil War memories

Will McTeer was one of more than two million soldiers who fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War years of 1861-1865. He was not looking for a fight. He did so because he loved his country and what it represented and because he feared the Confederacy – an idea with which he, his […]

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JuliaWardHowe

Julia Ward Howe’s not so perfect marriage

When the Battle Hymn of the Republic’s stirring lines were first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862, Julia Ward Howe seemed ideally position to receive the fame and accolades that she was about to receive for her poem. She was the mother of six children, and she and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, […]

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JuliaWardHowe

The personal civil war of Julia Ward Howe

We remember Julia Ward Howe for genius in composing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In the history of the English language, few poems have been repeated and sung as much this one — and perhaps none has generated so many book titles. But Howe is far more than the author of this great piece […]

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The House of Rest

Julia Ward Howe’s visions of glory, the fountain pen, more about libraries: newsletter, June 14, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,775) on Friday, June 14, 2019.   Beans on the stand, tassels on the corn, blooms on the cucumbers, tomatoes on the vine — the garden continues to amaze us with its seasonable miracles. The months of planning, planting, watering, weeding, and watching are being […]

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WaltWhitman-small

Walt Whitman’s calculated plan to achieve the fame he wanted

Walt Whitman (whose 200th birthday we celebrated briefly last week) was 35 years old in 1854 with no job and no prospects. He knew, however, that he wanted to be a poet — a famous poet. He was well on the way to being a poet. He had already written much of his seminal work, Leaves […]

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