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7roses

A founder of modern true-crime writing, the poison pen in real life, more on Ida Tarbell, and podcast recommendations: newsletter, March 27, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,597) on Friday, March 27, 2020.   I’ve quoted Shane Parish of the Farnam Street blog several times over the past few weeks, but I couldn’t let this pass by without sharing it with you: We’ve aged a generation in the past three weeks. What matters has sharply come […]

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Onthewaytothemountains1

The sharp words of Ida Tarbell, the dilemma of Woody Allen, more on cultural appropriation, and reader reaction: newsletter, March 20, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,597) on Friday, March 20, 2020. The magnitude and rapidity with which the world has changed in the last week lies beyond our complete understanding. Those things that we could confidently predict — high school graduations, opening day of the baseball season, the church service […]

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Hellman-McCarthy

The Hellman-McCarthy suit, apostrophes again, and an easy-to-use thesaurus: newsletter, March 13, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,601) on Friday, March 13, 2020.     The threat of the coronavirus that is now spreading through the United States and other western nations brings to mind other contagions that have plagued human beings throughout our history. Sometimes they have colorful names; sometimes they […]

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Good advice for editors from Jane Friedman

One of my favorite people from the world of independent publishing is Jane Friedman, a wide-ranging consultant and author of the weekly newsletter Electric Speed, which is consistently full of good tips and advice. The introduction to her newsletter this week struck me as especially enlightening. It’s a special message to those who would be […]

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Dorothy Thompson, America’s leading voice denouncing Nazism in the 1930s

Winston Churchill is rightly remembered as the lonely voice of 1930s Britain who recognized the dangers of Nazism and loudly and regularly denounced Adolph Hitler and his thugs while his nation was sleepwalking through the decade. America had a similar voice, but unfortunately, we hardly have any memory of her. The voice was that of […]

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JackHiggins

Jack Higgins, aka Harry Patterson

When The Eagle Has Landed was published in 1975, it was an immediate and huge hit for its author Harry Patterson, who was writing under the pen name of Jack Higgins. The fast-paced and gripping narrative captured the imagination of readers and the attention of filmmakers, who quickly purchased the movie rights and almost as […]

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DorothyThompson-SinclairLewis

The thrillers of Jack Higgins, the rise of Dorothy Thompson, plus some March literary madness: newsletter, March 6, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,602) on Friday, March 6, 2020.   The tornados that roared through Nashville and Middle Tennessee earlier this week left death and destruction in their wake and broke more than a few hearts — one of them being mine. I grew up in east Nashville […]

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MarkRyland-WolfHall

March literary madness: Hilary Mantel and Erik Larson

Two major literary events of the season are occurring this month: the release of new books by Hilary Mantel (The Mirror and the Light, due out March 10) and Erik Larson (The Splendid and the Vile, available now). Mantel caused a sensation with her Wolf Hall, the first of a trilogy of historical novels that […]

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CP-Greywacke Arch

The 20th-century’s top female journalist, good advice to editors, and more fodder for the spy novelist: newsletter, February 28, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,604) on Friday, February 28, 2020.     As February rolls into March, I am impressed by three items of “too much” during the last two months: too much warm weather (I know, but it is winter), too much rain (just like last year), and too much political news (with much of it uniformly awful). If […]

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ElearnorTaylorBland

Eleanor Taylor Bland, a pioneer in African-American mystery fiction

In the mid-1980s, Eleanor Taylor Bland had to feel as though her life was falling apart. She was divorced from her husband of 31 years. Living in Waukegan, Illinois, she was half a country away from where she grew up in Massachusetts. She had a job that was less than inspiring. Worst of all, a […]

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WalterMosley

Walter Mosley’s freedom of speech, Carl Hiaasen’s South Florida, and a podcast recommendation: newsletter, February 21, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,610) on Friday, February 21, 2020.     Update on reading: I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was in the process of reading five different novels. I finished one (see below), got so lost in the story of another that I gave […]

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ChesterHimes

Chester Himes and his mysteries, the books you love and hate, and Agatha’s greatest story: newsletter, February 7, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,617) on Friday, February 7, 2020. One night this week, I foolishly counted the number of novels that I was reading simultaneously. It was five (count ’em, 5). A couple of them I have just started; another couple I’m well into and don’t feel like quitting yet. […]

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ElearnorTaylorBland

The mysteries of Eleanor Taylor Bland, the firing of Dorothy Parker, and reader reactions: newsletter, February 14, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,617) on Friday, February 14, 2020. Two forces overwhelmed me at the end of last week. The good one was a higher-than-usual number of emails from you readers that I always find enlightening, fascinating, and thoughtful. Some of them were fairly lengthy, and that’s a good […]

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GeorgeSmith

George Smith and the Epic of Gilgamesh

Previously: — Writing: It started with the Sumerians  — The library of Ashurbanipal: its discovery changed our view of history — Henry Rawlinson on the Behistun inscription: key to the translations of Ashurbanipal’s library When George Smith stood up before London’s most important people at the British Museum in late 1872, he was within walking distance of […]

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HilaryMantel

Science fiction’s first Hugo, assassinating the PM Mantel-style, Stephen Fry’s podcast, and reader reaction: newsletter, January 31, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,617) on Friday, January 31, 2020.     Death, unfortunately, is much in mind this week as we hear the tragic news of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the others who perished in a helicopter accident earlier this week. I knew who Kobe Bryant was […]

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HilaryMantel

Hilary Mantel, Margaret Thatcher, and the story of an assassination that didn’t happen

On a Saturday in the middle of 1983, author Hilary Mantel looked out of the bedroom window of her flat in Windsor, west of London, and saw something she never expected to see: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wandering around the garden of a nearby hospital. Thatcher was by herself, and Mantel could see her clearly. […]

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Batter040

Doug Glanville on baseball’s ‘existential crisis’ 

Baseball’s cheating scandal, which I mentioned in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago, seems to have come and gone in the relative blink of an eye. A couple of days of headlines, perpetrators punished, a few days of comment and commentary, and we’re done. Let’s move on. But some of us want to shout, […]

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YoungWinstonC

Winston Churchill as a celebrity journalist, Irish mystery writers, and George Smith and the Epic of Gilgamesh: newsletter, January 24, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,6xx) on Friday, January 24, 2020.     Mid-January has brought us subfreezing temperatures and plenty of rain. The rain has kept us out of the garden plots, which need winter tilling, and the cold prevents wood-working because glue won’t adhere in the cold. All […]

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HenryRawlinson

Henry Rawlinson on the Behistun inscription: key to the translations of Ashurbanipal’s library

Previously: — Writing: It started with the Sumerians  — The library of Ashurbanipal: its discovery changed our view of history The discovery of Ashurbanipal’s Library and its treasure of ancient clay tablets that contained writing up to 3,000 years old stands as one of the great archeological finds of the modern era. The discovery came in […]

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HPLovecraft

The father of modern horror literature, grammar rules to live without, and a podcast recommendation: newsletter, January 17, 2020

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,6xx) on Friday, January 17, 2020.   {% if subscriber.first_name != blank %} Hello {{ subscriber.first_name }}, {% else %} Hello, {% endif %} News from Major League Baseball in January is never plentiful, and what there was this week was not good: two team managers were fired […]

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