Archives: history

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island map, the journalist and the novel, and another role for Martin Luther: newsletter, July 22, 2022

July 24, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, July 22, 2022. When I joined the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1970, I had already completed a bachelor’s degree in journalism and had worked professionally as a reporter and editor. I signed up for four years in the Navy because • Read More »

Cicero, the quintessential public speaker

July 16, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Citizens of ancient Rome loved public speaking. They put the highest value on a well-articulated argument or an emotion-filled oration. It wasn’t just good entertainment. A orator could make them think and feel. No one was better at public speaking than Marcus Tullius Cicero. Like many other Romans, Cicero studied what made a good, effective • Read More »

Cicero, The Feminine Mystique, a memoir, and the death penalty: newsletter, July 15, 2022

July 15, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, watercolor, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2, 480) on Friday, July 15, 2022. The United States is one of the few nations left on earth that allows capital punishment—the death penalty. And that punishment, according to Maurice Chammah, a staff writer at The Marshall Project and the author of Let the • Read More »

Battle of Midway, the making of the dictionary, new giveaways for July: newsletter, July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,466) on Friday, July 1, 2022. A recent article in Psychology Today listed seven characteristics that researchers say are most likely to prevent either short-term or long-term romantic relationships. The usual suspects were there, such as “unattractiveness” and “abusive behavior.” What interested me about the • Read More »

Johann Amos Comenius, founding father of modern education

June 25, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, journalism education.

The name of Johann Amos Comenius rarely echoes through the halls of modern academe, but his ideas about how we should educate ourselves remain alive, and his influence continues. For instance, the American educational system of kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high school levels is an idea that originated with Comenius. His influence runs far • Read More »

The father of modern education, the thrill of the night sky, more on Shakespeare, and giveaways galore: newsletter, June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,464) on Friday, June 24, 2022. Summer arrived officially this week, although in my neck of the woods, we have already had several spells of pretty hot weather. The same thing happens at the end of the year when winter officially begins after there has • Read More »

Caroline Norton and the first challenge to the male dominance of English law

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

“I exist and I suffer; but the law denies my existence.” Caroline Norton, who wrote this dynamite sentence, knew the power of the pen. Indeed, she lived in a time when it was her only weapon, and she used it well. Doing so brought her a measure of personal satisfaction, but it also changed the • Read More »

The libel trial of Theodore Roosevelt

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Imagine a libel trial featuring an ex-president as the defendant and a future president testifying on his behalf. That happened in 1915, more than six years after Theodore Roosevelt had left the office that he loved more than any other. He spent most of his energy, which was considerable, and his waking hours trying to • Read More »

The Morgan’s extraordinary librarian, the origins of Annika, and the words of John F. Kennedy: newsletter, June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, First Amendment, freedom of the press, history, newsletter, writers.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, June 3, 2022. In recent days I have had the opportunity to take a look at lists of words commonly used as slang a century ago. The lists have been both interesting and instructive. Many of the phrases in these list are • Read More »

The pitch-perfect prose of Roger Angell, the modernity of crossword puzzles, and the last chance for this month’s group giveawaysnewsletter, May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, books, history, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,421) on Friday, May 27, 2022. What do you think a librarian does? The answer to that question undoubtedly depends on your point of view, but I think most of us would believe a librarian is someone who keeps books and documents in a particular • Read More »

The Cato Street conspiracy

May 22, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history.

Even if you are well-versed in British history, it is unlikely that you know very much, if anything at all, about an event in 1820 known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. The conspiracy consisted of a cabal of a few underemployed working class men who hoped, without any reasonable chance of success, to decapitate the • Read More »

Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones: one told the truth, the other did not

May 21, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

The contrast between Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones is stark and ultimately tragic. Duranty was the correspondent for the New York Times and covered the Soviet Union and the rise of Joseph Stalin for more than a dozen years in the 1920s and 1930s. He interviewed Stalin a number of times and always wrote favorable • Read More »

The tale of journalists Duranty and Jones, the obvious alternative to eugenics, group giveaways, and decapitating the British government: newsletter, May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,404) on Friday, May 20, 2022. About a century ago, eugenics was all the rage. The basic idea of eugenics was that you could identify the “better” parts of society by race, geographic origin, or social class. If we could do that, then we could • Read More »

The strange disappearance of the man who took the first motion picture, Louis Le Prince

April 30, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

The identity of the person who “invented” motion pictures, in the sense that we know them today, has always been a matter of dispute—even though Thomas Edison has made the claim and owned the patent. Like many modern inventions (the airplane, the radio, etc.), cinema has many founders. In reality, Edison may be the least • Read More »

The education of August Wilson, a current combat artist, and continuing giveaways: newsletter, April 22, 2022

April 22, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,324) on Friday, April 22, 2022. “I like someone who speaks his mind—you know, someone who says what he thinks.” Undoubtedly, you have heard this sentiment expressed in some form or another. Speaking one’s mind is thought to be an admirable quality. I’m not so • Read More »

Handel’s comeback, ebook giveaways, bee swarms, and a preview of William Roughead: newsletter, April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, April 8, 2022. Part of the power of the English language lies in its ability to reform, revise, and regenerate itself on almost a daily basis. English is not a static entity, as some people might wish. It is vibrant and dynamic. • Read More »

Edna St. Vincent Millay and the voice of feminism, more about William Roughead, and lots of reader reaction: newsletter, April 1, 2022

April 1, 2022 | 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 (2,234) on Friday, April 1, 2022. You newsletter readers are carrying much of the load for this week’s newsletter. I have received several substantial and interesting comments on articles I have included during the past couple of weeks, and I want to share them with • Read More »

Mozart’s transcription genius: did he really do it?

March 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Gregorio Allegri’s (1582-1652) setting of Psalm 51, Miserere Mei, is a choral work of unsurpassed beauty and delicacy that the Catholic Church commissioned in the 1630s for exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel. It was played only once a year sometime during the Easter season. Writing it down or performing it without authorization could get • Read More »