Churchill’s spirit comes through in new biography

Sometimes in a crisis it helps to take a look in the rearview mirror.

In The Splendid And The Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz (Crown Publishers, 2020, 546 pages), Eric Larson vividly revives those days when Britain stood alone against Nazi war machine and suffered almost daily aerial attacks on its military bases and cities. The Battle for Britain left 44,652 dead, 5,626 of them children, and wounded 52,370. After watching one of these attacks on a beautiful English night, John Colville, Assistant Private Secretary to Churchill, wrote in his diary “Never was there such a contrast of natural splendor and human vileness.”

This pandemic may bring us closer

Weird, weird, weird.

Every morning until about two months ago, the online sites I visit daily offered accounts of someone — a celebrity, a politician, or an ordinary American — accused by another of racism, homophobia, misogyny, or some other social peccadillo demanding the cat o’ nine tails and a flogging post. We were a country divided by identity politics, a nation more at war with itself, or so we were told, than at any time since the Civil War.

Poetry and pandemic: Let’s celebrate National Poetry Month?

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” The Canterbury Tales begins, “the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote….”

The Coronavirus and The Smoky Mountain News

No book review today. 

But please read this column.

Confession is good for the soul

Some bare their souls to priests and ministers. Some seek out therapists and counselors. Some look for help from friends and family members.

And some write books. 

Early spring cleaning turns up some gems

Time to do some early spring cleaning and rid my desk of some books for review.

Caitlin Doughty, mortician and best-selling author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and From Here To Eternity, takes us to yet another encounter with the Grim Reaper in Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019, 222 pages). Dedicated to “To future corpses of all ages,” Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a collection of “the most distinctive, delightful questions I’ve been asked about death, and then I answered them.”

Rest in peace, Mary Higgins Clark

She died at the age of 92 in January 2020 in Naples, Florida. Renowned for her beauty when young, she worked as a secretary and an airlines stewardess, married and had five children, and was a devout Christian. Those who personally knew her describe her as generous, kind, warm-hearted, and fun.

Heads up gents: last-minute tips for Valentine’s

No book review this week. Just some last minute advice for men about the Feast of Love.

It’s V-Day, guys; time to hit the beaches.

Exuberant English and forgotten riches

What kind of a nut writes a play about antiquity using blank verse, sentences as convoluted as any in Shakespeare, and words which, outside of Elizabethan theater, have sounded in no human ear in hundreds of years?

The great and fallen artists

A New York Times Op-Ed recently asked, “Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?” It raised this question of banishing Gauguin because the artist slept with young girls in Tahiti and called the natives “savages.”

Let’s look at a few more artists and writers before looking for an answer.

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