Forgotten history: ‘The War of Jenkins’ Ear’

Recently I posted another first to my list of lifetime accomplishments: I managed to hit myself in the head with a lawn mower.

Torches: literary lights for dark times

Ever had one of those times when every day brought bad news?

In addition to our boatload of national catastrophes these last two months, the last two weeks brought me one report after the other of the struggles of friends and family members.

‘Love is always stronger than fear’

There are at least three reasons why Nicholas Sparks has sold over 100 million copies of his books and seen 11 of them made into movies.

Book explores past murders in the mountains

“The lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine.”

Literature as a defensive fortification

It’s late summer, but the song lyrics still work: living is supposed to be easy. So I’m looking for some light reading. No politics, no massive histories or biographies, no novels with tangled plots and emotions, no suspense stories where the protagonist leaves behind a trail of dead bodies thicker than Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs. 

Good folks and a wicked man

Years ago, a friend and I were watching some news show like 60 Minutes about juvenile murderers. The point of the report was that these young criminals showed little or no remorse for their shootings and stabbings, and in fact seemed to lack any sort of moral compass that most of us take as a given. When I wondered aloud about a solution, what might be done to change these stonehearted murderers, my friend looked at me and said, “Some people just need killing.”

A quiet place: the book nook

Readers generally look for a special place to sink into their books, to escape the noise and hubbub of the household, to find that sanctuary where they can give themselves over to the reverie and escapism of stories.

A light in our darkness: Michael O’Brien’s The Lighthouse

So it’s a late Thursday afternoon, and I’m sitting on the front porch finishing up a novel when my eyes prickled, and then blurred, and the old saltwater ran down my age-raddled cheeks. 

Doubling up: a review of Basil’s War and Bourdain’s World Travel

I’ve long been a fan of Stephen Hunter’s novels, particularly his series about Bob Lee Swagger. Swagger is a sniper, reflecting Hunter’s interest in firearms, and I’ve reviewed several Swagger novels for The Smoky Mountain News. I’ve also recommended the movie “Shooter,” a fine film where Mark Wahlberg plays the part of Swagger. 

Worlds apart: a look at two very different books

The last four months of 1862 brought blood and slaughter to the armies of the South and the North. Earlier that year, a series of battles led to the September battle of Sharpsburg, also known as Antietam, in Maryland, where in the bloodiest single day of fighting during the war George McClellan’s Union forces turned back Lee’s attempted invasion of that state.

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