Archives: journalism

The second generation of American leaders: Clay, Calhoun, and Webster

August 2, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

Here is something odd and overlooked about the history of the American republic. The second generation of leaders―with one notable exception―is completely devoid of any close relatives, mainly sons, of the people we consider the Founding Fathers. None of the relatives of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, or almost any others that • Read More »

Edward Gibbon: giving voice to the Enlightenment view of history (part 1)

July 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

As a 27-year-old with scholarly ambitions and wondering what to do with his life, Edward Gibbon visited Rome on his grand tour of Europe and was struck by what he saw. The magnificent ruins seared an image and an idea into his brain. Rome had once been the most powerful political entity on earth. Now • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the first person to be called a ‘scientist’ (part 1)

June 28, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

William Whewell had a problem. In 1834, he was reviewing a newly-published book titled On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. It was an extraordinary work, something that he had never encountered before. It was a book that took on incomplete and fragmented knowledge of the fields of astronomy, mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry and brought • Read More »

Conquering geography: technology’s most profound victory during Covid

June 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Three decades ago Marc Andreessen co-created the Mosaic internet browser, one of the first of its kind, and later he cofounded Netscape. His website, Future, takes on some of the big issues internet technology. Andreessen has written a brief and perceptive review of how technology helped us survive – even thrive – during the Covid • Read More »

More than 150 years of the postcard

June 26, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Before there was Twitter, there was . . . the postcard. Most of us have postcards lying about here and there, and my guess is that all of us at one time or another have sent a postcard. But we have done so with little or no knowledge about how postcards came into being. That • Read More »

Benjamin Banneker, 18th century American naturalist

June 25, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Before the noise of the recent cicada uprising dies away completely, we should take note of one person who, notable as he was, has been thoroughly ignored by American history. His name is Benjamin Banneker, and in 1749, he was the first American to note the 17-year cycle of the noisy insect. Had that been • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the woman who became the first scientist (part 2)

June 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

By the time Mary Somerville was 47 years old in 1827, she had lived what might have seemed like to many a full life for a nineteenth-century female. Actually, more than a full life. She had grown up the daughter of a British Naval captain, and as a child the circumstances of her family were • Read More »

Frederick Forsyth and the importance of silence to a writer

June 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Stories of how writers become writers — the origin narrative, if you will — are continually fascinating and somewhat more rare than you might think. Writers, particularly writers of fiction, enjoy telling other people’s stories, but they often think but their own stories or dull or even non-existent.  Not so with Frederick Forsyth, one of • Read More »

So, Republic, what did you do during The Troubles?

June 11, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

When The Troubles erupted in August 1969 in the six counties in Northern Ireland that Great Britain still claimed, the two sides of the conflict — the Protestants and the Catholics — were well and quickly established in the eyes of the world. Protestants were in the majority in those counties, and discrimination against Catholics, • Read More »

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: the great poetic influencer of the 19th century

June 7, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Since the early 19th century, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), has remained one of the most honored, discussed, and beloved poems in all of English literature. (Here I am excluding the feelings of most high school sophomores who when faced with reading the poem find it daunting, dreary, and dense)  • Read More »

American Library Association’s list of “most challenged books” for 2020

June 1, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, journalism.

Chances are, there’s a group in your community that wants to dictate what books you and your children can read. They often do this by telling public libraries what they should not put on the shelves. Most libraries resist this kind of pressure, and the American Library Association keeps track of these challenges. Here is • Read More »