WilliamTSherman

History, truth, and cedar trees; and the two failures who saved the nation; newsletter, July 20, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,273) on July 20, 2018   We’re still recovering from the near-4,000 mile journey we took out West a couple of weeks ago. That recovering has included a lot of mowing and a good bit of weeding and cleaning out in the garden. We’re now […]

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Cedars of Lebanon falling victim to climate change

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 […]

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WilliamTSherman

Two failures who saved each other – and then saved a nation (part 1)

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 […]

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Writing a book? Forget the keyboard; find the audio recorder

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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The death of truth

Pour yourself a cup of coffee or make yourself a strong cup of tea and settle back to read this important but difficult article in The Guardian by Michiko Kakutani on why we seem to have given up on facts. Kakutani is the former chief book critic for the New York Times. She has taken a deep […]

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Good journalism saves lives

Good journalism saves lives. In this Age of Hyperbole, that’s no exaggeration. A couple of weeks ago in the newsletter, I mentioned John Carreyrou, investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and the book he has written title Bad Blood. The book tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes. the wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her […]

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Raymond Chandler

Female writers, #MeToo, and the love for Raymond Chandler 

What’s a female crime-writing author, who owes so much to Raymond Chandler and who loves him dearly, to do in this age of #MeToo? Megan Abbott (Give Me Your Hand) has some interesting observation in a delightful and insightful essay on Salon.com. Abbott is unabashed in her love for Raymond Chandler and the noir world […]

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Queen Mary: the myth and a somewhat more balanced reality

In a newsletter earlier this year, I had an entry on the phrase “Bloody Mary” and mentioned that the drink to which it refers was named after Queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, who persecuted Protestants in an attempt to return England to Catholicism. A newsletter reader, Frank C., wrote to say that this “persecution” was […]

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JohnTrumbull

Top 10 books about gangsters, Trumbull’s portrait of Washington, and hurricane news: newsletter, July 13, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,197) on July 13, 2018 Hiding in plain sight in the American psyche is the concept of The Road. The Great American Highway is not just a tool to get from place to another. It’s an indelible symbol of the freedom to move, the sense […]

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<p>Members of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force One (NE-TF1) remove an infant from a rescue boat in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.</p>

Hurricane news: it’s not always what you think – or what you hear

OntheMedia, the radio show about all things journalism, has produced an excellent piece to counter some of the predictable narrative that you are likely to hear as we approach another season in which high winds and waves slam into various parts of the U.S. Members of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force One […]

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JohnTrumbull

Trumbull’s portrait of Washington at West Point: marvelous art with an even better story (part 2)

Artist John Trumbull had been in London only a short time in 1780 when he started working on a full-length portrait Great Britain’s arch American enemy George Washington. Trumbull, a former colonel in the Continental Army, was clearly violating the pledge he made to British officials not to participate in political activities. Ostensibly, he was […]

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An offer you can’t refuse: The Guardian’s top 10 books about gangsters

If you’re like me, you’re a bit of a sucker for “top 10” or “10 best” lists — especially when it comes to books about topics that interest me. So here’s a good one. Crime novelist Ron Reynolds has written an intelligent and entertaining piece for The Guardian on his top 10 books about gangsters. […]

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WoodrowWilson

Great art and an even better story behind it: John Trumbull, the Revolutionary War painter; newsletter, July 6, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on July 6, 2018 Note: We’re on a road trip from East Tennessee to the Western states, and that will take a couple of weeks. Consequently, this newsletter is shorter than usual. I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to a […]

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WoodrowWilson

The Great War, Woodrow Wilson, and the savaging of the idea of America

Wilson, in declaring war on Germany in 1917, also declared war on a good portion of America as well.

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HarrietBeecherStowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thomas Dixon, and a couple of examples of excellent journalism: newsletter, June 29, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,238) on June 8, 2018 First an apology: Many of you with Gmail addresses received last week’s newsletter with a big red warning label at the top and no way to click on the links. When I began to hear from you about it on […]

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WashingtonbyTrumbull

Trumbull’s portrait of Washington at West Point: marvelous art with an even better story (part 1)

It’s one of the best paintings of George Washington that you have probably never seen. And the story behind it is even more interesting than the painting. The painting is John Trumbull‘s portrait of George Washington at West Point. Washington is pictured in a heroic stance with his slave/servant Billy Lee to his left and the […]

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JohnCarreyrou

American Fire and Bad Blood: two excellent pieces of journalism

Good journalism is hard to do — I have said this many times — and when I find some, I tend to pay some attention. A couple of examples of excellent long-form journalism that I have come across lately are American Fire by Monica Hesse and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. American Fire: Love, Arson […]

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Podcasts on the rise

A survey across multiple countries shows that podcast are on the rise. People love audio, and they listen. Overall, a third of our sample (34%) listens to a news-related podcast at least monthly but there are significant country differences. In Asian countries like South Korea (58%) and Taiwan (55%), strong smartphone penetration together with high […]

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HarrietBeecherStowe

The greatest American novel

Suffice it to say that Uncle Tom’s Cabin took over the American mind (and many minds beyond America’s shores), and the novel has held its grip on a portion of that mind ever since. Immediately after its publication, the debate about slavery — and ultimately the debate about America — was never the same.

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beehives-4

The New York Times gets buzzed by the bee fad

The New York Times is often cited by me as a balanced, thoroughly researched, and well-written source of information. But in a recent article about the supposed health benefits of bee products  (The Wellness World’s Buzzy New Best Friend – The New York Times), such as honey and pollen, the Times reporter, who shall go […]

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