Archives: books

The talented Hohenzollern kids, anti-Napoleon intelligence, and the return of the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, December 3, 2021. About 15 years ago, the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, (yes, the same burb of the swing song that begins, “Pardon me, boys, is this the . . .”), went on a tree-cutting binge. Years before, the city had planted • Read More »

Anne Bronte, humility, Benjamin Spock, and reader reaction: newsletter, November 26, 2021

November 26, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, November 26, 2021. Thanksgiving Day, I think, is the best of all holidays. It can be religious or secular or a lot of both. It comes close to the end of the year but not so close that we are making “best • Read More »

Bernard Cornwell, James Whitcomb Riley, and eulogy virtues: newsletter, November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, November 19, 2021. The idea of individual freedom lies at the heart of America, and it was the main motivation for those devoted to “The Cause” that became the war for independence from Great Britain. It wasn’t about taxes or representation. It • Read More »

Vietnam Voices volume 3 is now available

November 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism.

Vietnam Voices, the project of the Blount County Public Library with which I am associated, now has its third volume of interviews in both print and ebook form. Vietnam Voices: Stories of Tennesseans Who Served in Vietnam, 1965-1975 (volume 3) is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats and on Barnes and Noble in • Read More »

Susanna Centlivre, literary football, country music, and reader reaction: newsletter, November 12, 2021

November 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, November 12, 2021. Growing up in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s, we were certainly aware of country music and the Grand Ole Opry, but our focus as teenagers was on rock ’n roll. None of the people I knew realized just • Read More »

Bernard Cornwell: “Don’t worry, darling. I’ll write a book.”

November 4, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

When Bernard Cornwell followed the woman he loved back to America from his native Great Britain and married her in 1979, he asked the U.S. government to grant him a Green Card so that he could be employed. His request was denied. “Don’t worry, darling,” he told his wife. “I’ll write a novel.” More than • Read More »

Mastering the heroic couplet, more on Baroque composers, and Frederick Taylor Gates: newsletter, October 29, 2021

October 30, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 29, 2021. Fifty. 50 percent.  Is that a lot or a little? Whenever I encounter a number or statistic, I am reminded of what I read years ago in a book on graphics by Edward Tufte, a guru of graphic presentation • Read More »

Charles Dickens, Parliamentary reporter; Antonio Vivaldi, and wide-ranging reader reaction: newsletter, October 22, 2021

October 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, reporting, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 22, 2021. We live about five miles outside a small town on a winding road in an area that would definitely be termed as rural. Last Friday night, the weather permitted me to sit outside on my back porch and listen • Read More »

Baroque composers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Eleanor Roosevelt, and yet another bandsaw box: newsletter, Oct. 15, 2021

October 16, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Voting, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 15, 2021. If you grew up in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s and paid attention to the news (here, guilty on all counts), you would have heard the name of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi woman who upset • Read More »

Meeting St. Louis, the spy and the dirty diaper, banned books, and bandsaw boxes: newsletter, October 8, 2021

October 9, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,272) on Friday, October 8, 2021. Audiobooks—are they really “books”? If you listen to an audiobook, does that count as reading one? Those questions came to mind as I read an email this week from a good friend and newsletter reader. She was responding to • Read More »

Oleg Gordievsky: The message was clear; the listeners just didn’t get it (part 1)

October 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

In 1985 Oleg Gordievsky, a colonel in the KGB, was less than 24 hours from launching into a plan that would spirit him out of the Soviet Union and into asylum in the West. For years, Gordievsky had been Western intelligence service’s chief asset within the Soviet hierarchy. Within that hierarchy, he had a reputation • Read More »

Banned Books Week

October 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

Banned Books Week was last week (Sept. 26 – Oct. 1), but that’s no reason to stop the observance at just five days. The banning of books is a problem every day of the year in America and elsewhere, and the problem should not slide back under the carpet. The official BannedBooksWeek.org website says this: • Read More »

The Peterkin family, Bradbury finds his title, Vietnam Voices, and bandsaw boxes; newsletter, September 10, 2021

September 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 10, 2021. The bandsaw box is something known to most woodworkers. You take a block of wood usually about the size of your hand with the fingers spread out (give or take) and a few inches deep. Then, through a series • Read More »

Ray Bradbury and his typewriter, Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney, nicknames for sports teams, and more: newsletter, September 3, 2021

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 3, 2021. During the past few weeks, I have devoted my considerable intellectual resources to solving one of the nation’s most intractable problems. I am, of course, talking about the nicknames given to sports teams. A solution to this vexing dilemma • Read More »

Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney—together in one book

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, writers, writing.

Scottish mystery novelist Ian Rankin had admired William McIlvanney (see below) for a long time. Rankin had read all of McIlvanney’s Laidlaw series—there were only three books in that series—and had been captured by McIlvanney’s unique writing style and his point of view. Finally, early in his writing career, Rankin got to meet McIlvanney in • Read More »

Music, courage, treachery, and the spark for modern genealogy research: newsletter, August 27, 2021

August 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, August 27, 2021. One of the great mysteries of our lives—one that in some sense I hope we do not “solve” is the effect that music has on our intellect, our emotions, and our general well-being. No one that I know of • Read More »