Archives: journalism

P.D. James: setting is central to her novels

August 13, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: fiction, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

When author P.D. James began writing her first novel in the mid-1950s, she wrote later, “it never occurred to me to make a start with anything other than a detective story.” James had been reading mystery novels for many years, and she believed that she could write one that would be good enough to find • Read More »

PD James, Poe’s literary guardian angel, and Bill Russell’s dominate spirit: newsletter, August 12, 2022

August 12, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2, 491) on Friday, August 12, 2022. The idea of young adults doing some kind of national service has been around for decades. When I was growing up, it was the Selective Service, what we commonly termed “the draft.” It was military service, and it • Read More »

One of the ten digits of the engineer

August 7, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism.

Quick, Sherlock Holmes experts: what was the only case that Dr. Watson brought to the famous detective’s attention? Got it yet? The answer, of course, is “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb.“ If you like Holmesian trivia such as this, you will probably enjoy it Olivia Rutigliano’s series on Crimereads.com where she does it close • Read More »

Helen Kirkpatrick covers the before, during, and after of World War II

August 6, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, reporters, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

When Helen Kirkpatrick finally got a job as the London correspondent for the Chicago Daily News in 1939, she gave herself a seemingly impossible first assignment. She suggested to her editors that she try to get an interview with the duke of Windsor, the former king Edward. The assignment seemed impossible because it was well • Read More »

Robert Louis Stevenson: igniting the imagination of young readers

August 1, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

One book that should be on the shelf of every pre-teen is a well-illustrated copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. For more than 140 years, Treasure Island has fired the imagination of young readers all over the world.  Its central character, Jim Hawkins, is a young boy who finds himself in the middle • Read More »

Monty’s Double: a hoax to fool Hitler and the Germans

July 31, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

One of the most recognizable leaders among the World War II Allies was Field Marshal Bernard “Monty” Montgomery. Montgomery never shied away from cameras, film crews, or any other publicity machine. His appearance was indeed immediately recognizable. He was shorter than average, wore an unusual black beret, had a malleable face with a small mustache, • Read More »

Independent bookstores: surviving, thriving, and growing in number

July 30, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, news.

Despite Covid, despite Amazon, despite a general downturn in retailing over the last decade, independently-owned local bookstores seem to be making a comeback. When Covid hit in 2020, it looked as though the health crisis would push independent bookstores over the cliff. That did happen in some cases, and the numbers of such businesses declined. • Read More »

Independent bookstores, Monty’s double, and Margaret Fuller: newsletter, July 29, 2022

July 29, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, July 29, 2022. How do you feel about your public library? Writer and poet Michele Herman, who lives in New York City, thinks of the two branches of the New York Public Library close to where she lives like she thinks of • 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 »

Battle of Midway (part 2)

July 2, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

This is the second part of a two-part summary of the Battle of Midway, which occurred 80 years ago this month. Part 1 can be found here. By midmorning on June 4, 1942, the Japanese naval command must have felt pretty satisfied. Their plan to entrap and ambush American naval aircraft carriers near the island • 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 »

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 »

David Simon: life on the mean streets of Baltimore and the fading power of journalism

June 12, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: fiction, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

In 1983, David Simon had finished at the University of Maryland and was trying to make it onto the metro staff of a big city newspaper. He was stringing—writing as a freelancer—for the Baltimore Sun, covering stories around College Park and the UM campus. Simon had cut his teeth as a student journalist on The • Read More »

The Theology of Work

June 11, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

A University of California-Berkeley sociologist contends that work is replacing religion as the thing that gives structure to our thinking and meaning to our lives. This is especially true, she contends, in a place like Silicon Valley where work takes up almost every waking hour and provides a pseudo-religious context—such as, “We’re going to change • Read More »

Truckin’ bees across the country

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Most people encounter honeybees through pictures of bees buzzing around flower blooms or possibly driving through the countryside and seeing hives in the middle of a field. More and more, people can see bees in urban areas, often atop tall buildings. But bees on tractor-trailer trucks rolling down an interstate highway? That is exactly where • Read More »

The mean streets of Baltimore, the theology of work, June giveaways, and truckin’ bees: newsletter, June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, journalists, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,241) on Friday, June 10, 2022. What if Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare? Seriously, what if there was evidence that William Shakespeare was not the author of Hamlet or MacBeth or Richard III or Henry V or any of the other plays that we attribute to • Read More »

Belle de Costa Greene, the extraordinary life of the Morgan Museum’s librarian

June 4, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

By any measure, Belle de Costa Greene lived an extraordinary life for a librarian. During the first two decades of the 20th century, she reigned as an undisputed leader and expert in the area of art and antiquities. She was instrumental in acquiring, organizing, and cataloguing what became the world’s finest private collection of rare • Read More »

The modernity of the crossword puzzle

May 28, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Word games have been with us since the advent of words themselves, but one of the most popular of all word games, the crossword puzzle, is a relatively recent invention. We have only had crossword puzzles for about 100 years. We owe the modern crossword puzzle to a man named Arthur Wynne, who was an • Read More »