Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Using a volcano to learn about the center of the earth / Begin a new Federal Writers Project / America’s toxic mythologies / An Islamic map from 1154 / Running Kabul’s airport under the Taliban

This week: Using a volcano to learn about the center of the earth / Begin a new Federal Writers Project / America’s toxic mythologies / An Islamic map from 1154 / Running Kabul’s airport under the Taliban

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. A spacesuit designer on what to wear to the moon
By Alissa Greenberg | NOVA :: PBS | September 2021
“An engineer-artist duo wants to create sleeker spacesuits that meet the challenges of a low-pressure environment while offering more mobility — and looking cool.”

2. It’s Time for A New Federal Writers Project
By David Kipen | Start Making Sense | June 2021
“It’s a great idea: creating a new Federal Writers Project, hiring a thousand out of work writers and journalists to document American lives during the pandemic year.”

3. Nothing sacred: From Jefferson to Jan. 6, America’s toxic mythologies are destroying us
By Donald Earl Collins | Salon | September 2021
“Thomas Jefferson hid the ugly truth of Bacon’s Rebellion — an early example of the myths emerging around Jan. 6”

4. The Islamic World Map of 1154
By Sundeep Mahendra | The Library of Congress | August 2021
“Over the course of nine years, and drawing on earlier works by Ptolemy, Arabic sources, firsthand information from world travelers and his own experience, [Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Idris al-sharif al-Idrisi] in 1154 completed what became one of the most detailed geographical works created during the medieval period.”

5. The Taliban now controls Kabul airport. How will it run it?
Al Jazeera English | August 2021
“The Taliban wants Turkey to operate the airport as it controls security, but the next steps to revive the transport hub are still unclear.”

6. Julie Pace named new Associated Press executive editor
By David Bauder | Associated Press | September 2021
“Pace said it was important to push all of the AP’s journalists — text reporters, video, still photographers, fact checkers and graphics producers — out of individual silos to work together in presenting compelling stories.”

7. The other cradle of humanity: How Arabia shaped human evolution
By Michael Marshall | New Scientist | August 2021
“New evidence reveals that Arabia was not a mere stopover for ancestral humans leaving Africa, but a lush homeland where they flourished and evolved”

8. Surprise undersea volcano could offer unique window into Earth’s interior
By Akila Raghavan | Science | July 2021
“In a new study, the scientists suggest the seamount could represent a completely new type of seafloor volcanism, fueled by a hidden, shallow reservoir of magma.”

9. Parasite: Notes from the Underground
By Inkoo Kang | The Criterion Collection | October 2020
“[It] reveals the Kims, as sympathetic and unfairly treated as they are, as utterly capable of the banality of evil, in part because of their own overidentification with underdogs, and the inherent goodness they assume they can lay claim to. The layers of self-deception build on top of one another until, finally, it all comes crashing down.”

10. The Thirty Years War
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2018
Also see: The Wealth of Nations | The Eunuch | Social Darwinism | Chivalry

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. ‘Your evil revolution’: How a reggaeton anthem inspired Cuba protests
By Nancy San Martin and Mimi Whitefield | National Geographic | July 2021
“‘Patria y Vida’ turns a Castro slogan on its head, inspiring thousands to demand reform in the island nation”

2. The Business Side of Being a Writer
By Susan Orlean | Medium | July 2021
“Being a writer means you are running a small business, manufacturing sentences, and you are the owner of the business, and the foreman of the factory, and the guy working on the production line, and the person driving the truck to deliver the sentences to your customers.”

3. Searching for Moby-Dick (and the Elusive Truths of America’s Pastime)
By Rick White | LitHub | July 2021
“Two decades later, sabermetrics are the only metrics that matter,’big ball’ is baseball, baseball is boring, and Whiteyball has gone the way of the ‘Pequod’ and the hand-hurled harpoon. What else should one have expected? It was, like Melville’s masterpiece, and like all other fine works of American art, destined in time to be swallowed up like Jonah, either in obscurity or by the whale of American corporate oligarchy.”

4. ‘I’ve outlasted them all’: The spectacular life of the world’s most powerful crossword editor
By J Oliver Conroy | The Guardian | July 2021
“The New York Times’ Will Shortz has appeared on The Simpsons, written riddles for a Batman villain and sold over 1m copies of a sudoku book. He talks hate mail, controversial clues and why puzzles are like drugs”

5. The completely correct guide to being back in an airport
By Natalie B. Compton | The Washington Post | July 2021
“No one wants to listen to you yell about client synergies, Richard”

6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A Kid’s-Eye View
By Dana Stevens | The Criterion Collection | May 2021
“[L]ike all the kids in director Amy Heckerling’s tender, funny, sometimes painfully well-observed comedy of teenage manners, I spent most of my spare time in one of several sprawling suburban malls, because where else was a high schooler in the early eighties supposed to go?”

7. Galileo and the Pope Fell Out over a Story about a Cicada
By Nuno Castel-Branco | Scientific American | July 2021
“The legendary scientist used the insects’ songs as a metaphor for his theories about the universe. It didn’t go well”

8. Shipwrecked scent: A perfumer re-creates a 150-year-old fragrance
By Amanda McGowan | The World | July 2020
“A ship called the Mary Celestia sank in 1864 off the coast of Bermuda. About 150 years later, divers visiting the shipwreck uncovered a perfectly preserved bottle of perfume. Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone worked to re-create the 150-year-old scent.”

9. My Time as (Probably) the Most Assaulted Cabinet Member in History
By Dan Glickman | Politico Magazine | June 2021
“The worst part? All the food people threw at me.”

10. Samuel Beckett
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2008-2020
Also see: The Fire of London | Heat | Neuroscience | Bolivar

It’s only the beginning of the intellectual journey

I don’t consider myself particularly wise or much of a role model, but I thought I had a few guiding principles that might be useful, if only because history, journalism and fiction are my passions too.

I was reviewing old emails the other day, and I came across a letter I wrote to a young college student who asked for my advice. He was considering joining his college newspaper. He also hoped to pursue an academic career as a historian and maybe dabble in writing historical fiction. He was worried he couldn’t do it all.

Now, I don’t consider myself particularly wise or much of a role model, but I thought I had a few guiding principles that might be useful, if only because history, journalism and fiction are my passions too.

Here’s shortened and edited version of what I said.

******

Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like you’re taking the right perspective and asking the right questions. My overall advice is this: Stick with journalism and see where it takes you. Does this mean you can’t be a historian? No. It will make you a better historian and academic writer. Does this mean you can’t be a fiction writer? Absolutely not. It will make you a clear thinker and writer.

I was always shy, but I realized early in life that I enjoyed expressing myself through the written word. When I was in my teens or early twenties, I read about Theodore Roosevelt and the many different passions he pursued throughout his life, and I decided I would be someone like that. I decided that my life would focus on three overall passions. I decided that I wanted to be remembered as a journalist, as a historian and as a historical novelist.

I started writing in college newspapers at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi (The Foghorn) and at the University of Texas at Austin (The Daily Texan). I wrote book reviews, reviewed theater performances and movies, and contributed op-ed pieces. I was already deeply interested in history, and I convinced the editors at the Texan to let me write an occasional column on history. Ironically, I wasn’t interested in straight reporting and was too shy to speak to strangers, so I never became a reporter. I worked as a proofreader — what they call a copy editor — and as a page designer.

After college, I eventually got a job at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. No matter how accomplished you may be, always swallow your pride and start at the bottom — I started as a news assistant and junior copy editor — and work your way up. I did this even in college. Step by step. Prove yourself to your colleagues and to yourself. Learn everything you can from everyone — they all know something you don’t.

Figure out how each job and experience can help you move on to the next job and take on the challenge. The college newspaper jobs helped me get the Caller-Times job. The Caller-Times job led to a similar job at the San Antonio Express-News. That editing and writing experience was invaluable in graduate school at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After several years in academics, as you know, I’m now an editor at Texas Public Radio. …

I had always been interested in current events and foreign affairs. I always saw journalism and history as two halves of the same heart, the two ends of the same spectrum of civilization. I had an old-fashioned idea that all smart people — writers, scientists, athletes, anyone — should all spend at least a year working in some capacity at a newspaper. It’s a great place to learn how to write clearly and succinctly. Experience the constant flow of information all around you and through you. Understand the value of journalism in a democracy. I equated journalism to public service or military service — an enriching challenge that benefits everyone. That’s what motivated me to enter journalism and become an editor. I feel it is noble work, just as noble as being a teacher. You are really making a difference as a journalist. I wish more people would participate in the industry. I wish it was better funded.

Working in a newspaper taught me to pay close attention to details and maintain a consistent sense of what’s important and what isn’t. It strengthened my capacity to deal with all kinds of different people and personalities and deepened my sympathy for the less fortunate, those without a voice, those who need help. You can’t be afraid of a newsroom’s chaos, and you have to have faith that you can bring a semblance of order to it all. Always view problems and setbacks as opportunities. Always.

You’ve got your foot in the door at the student newspaper. Stay with it. Work for free. Work for the experience. Work at one job, then at another, then another. Build up a body of experience and a body of work. Work in different departments. Figure what you don’t like doing and what you really like to do. Write book reviews. Learn about the newspaper’s website. If you want to work at a professional newspaper or radio station, bring them a wide variety of examples of the work you’ve done in college. That will take time but it’s doable and worth every second of effort. Talk to journalism professors and to the leaders of the college newspaper or radio station. When you have time, see if professional newspapers/news web sites need help from a smart college journalist. That’s great experience too.

The great advantage of staying with journalism is this: The field has space for and needs all kinds of different, smart people to illustrate and explain the world for everyone else. Also, don’t assume that once you enter journalism you will be a journalist forever. Learn about science, literature, law, history, engineering, politics and other subjects. Let journalism be the foundation upon which you build a life filled with different experiences, different expertise and different ambitions. Becoming an effective journalist — editor, reporter, whatever — is only the beginning of your intellectual journey.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The biblical view of Beyonce / Stephen King looks back / How writers build new worlds / Young Jean Lee takes on Broadway / Reading the classics

This week: The biblical view of Beyonce / Stephen King looks back / How writers build new worlds / Young Jean Lee takes on Broadway / Reading the classics

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Beyoncé and the Bible
By Sonia Paul | PRI :: Studio 360 | July 2018
“Yolanda Norton, an assistant professor of Old Testament at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, just taught a course called ‘Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.’ In the course students learned what Beyoncé can teach us about the Bible, and what the Bible can teach us about Beyoncé.”

2. Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor
By Mark Hertling and Molly K. McKew | Politico Magazine | July 2018
“Make no mistake: Hacking the 2016 election was an act of war. It’s time we responded accordingly.”

3. How to Make This the Summer of Missing Out
By Hayley Phelan | The New York Times | July 2018
“What’s happening Who cares. Meet JOMO, FOMO’s benevolent younger cousin.”

4. Why Read the Classics
By Italo Calvino | The New York Review of Books | October 1986
“There should therefore be a time in adult life devoted to revisiting the most important books of our youth. Even if the books have remained the same (though they do change, in the light of an altered historical perspective), we have most certainly changed, and our encounter will be an entirely new thing.”

5. Goldfinger and the myth of a Bond girl’s death
By Christian Blauvelt | BBC Culture | July 2018
“Many think Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton died during filming after being painted gold. But is this true In the first episode of Debunked, Christian Blauvelt takes a look.”

6. Young Jean Lee’s Unsafe Spaces
By Parul Sehgal | The New York Times Magazine | July 2018
“The first female Asian-American playwright on Broadway takes aim at identity and watches the audience squirm.”

7. Chaos from order
By John R. Allen | Brookings | July 2018
“In my 45-year career as a national security professional and Marine Corps General serving my country, I have never seen a moment like the one we are in now.”

8. The generation that grew up on Stephen King is taking him back
By Randall Colburn | The Outline | July 2018
“The author is going through a cinematic renaissance, thanks to directors who grew up as fans.”

9. Journalism in the Age of Trump: What’s Missing and What Matters
By Michael Massing | The Nation | July 2018
“Has the preoccupation with the president pushed aside other urgent stories”

10. From Star Wars to Lord of the Rings, How to Build a World
By A.D. Jameson | LitHub | May 2018
“The Art of Making the Imaginary Seem Real”

Amerikan Rambler: Historians and the Do-It-for-Free Trap

From Feb. 2016: “Perhaps the best example of the do-it-for-free trap is the book review.”

Teaching can be a very rewarding job — financially and personally. Unfortunately, however, many academics, especially aspiring ones, do far too much for free. Often, it’s part of their job. Other times, it becomes a kind of borderline bad habit. And yet, it’s easy for historians to get into the habit of writing or talking too often for free. Perhaps the best example of the do-it-for-free trap is the book review.

via Historians and the Do-It-for-Free Trap — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: The Writing Machine

From July 2014: “Thankfully, being a historian cuts down on the tendency toward writer’s block. And even though I don’t get paid much for writing, I love doing it.”

Thankfully, being a historian cuts down on the tendency toward writer’s block. And even though I don’t get paid much for writing, I love doing it.

via The Writing Machine — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Miss you, Sean Spicer / Black Americans’ past via genetics / View from Mars Rover / The Pentagon’s pollution / One father, 200 children

This week: Miss you, Sean Spicer / Black Americans’ past via genetics / View from Mars Rover / The Pentagon’s pollution / One father, 200 children

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. We’ll Miss You, Sean Spicer
By Erin Gloria Ryan | The New York Times | July 21
“Mr. Spicer was alternately rude and outright dismissive to reporters. He told April Ryan to stop shaking her head. He made Jim Acosta of CNN and Hallie Jackson of MSNBC into household names. Still, Americans tuned into Mr. Spicer’s pressers in such numbers that their ratings topped the soap operas that shared the time slot. Call it ‘As the World Burns.’ ”

2. How African Americans Use DNA Testing to Connect With Their Past
By Ed Yong | The Atlantic | June 2017
“Genetic tests have ushered in a new era of root-seeking and community-building, says social scientist Alondra Nelson.”

3. The Public Editor’s Club at The New York Times as told by the six who lived it
By Andy Robinson | Columbia Journalism Review | July 20
“The editors often found themselves in disagreement with colleagues, and even with direct access to the publisher at all times, the job was never easy. But all agreed the job was a testament to the integrity of the Times. Over the last six months I’ve photographed and interviewed all six who served as public editors of the most influential newsroom in the world.”

4. Trump’s desire for private infrastructure money will narrow his choices
By Tom Scheck, Curtis Gilbert, and Will Craft | APM Reports :: Marketplace | July 19
“An analysis by APM Reports has found that at least 46 transportation and water-related projects in 23 states and the District of Columbia presented to the White House could rely on private money to be completed, including investment opportunities in Alabama, drinking water pipelines in California and New Mexico and a massive transit project in the New York City area.”

5. From Mars Rover: Panorama Above ‘Perseverance Valley’
Jet Propulsion Laboratory :: NASA | July 20
“NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded a panoramic view before entering the upper end of a fluid-carved valley that descends the inner slope of a large crater’s rim.”

6. Open Burns, Ill Winds
By Abrahm Lustgarten | ProPublica | July 20
“The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.”

7. The man who may have secretly fathered 200 children
By Joanna Moorhead | The Guardian | July 15
” A daughter, Lotte, now 23, was born in 1994. Almost two years later, in 1995, Heij gave birth to a second child, Yonathan; Karbaat assured her the sperm was from the same donor.”

8. The unhappiness of the US working class
By Carol Graham | Brookings | July 2017
“A critical factor is the plight of the white blue-collar worker, for whom hopes for making it to a stable, middle-class life have largely disappeared.”

9. Home Girl
By Michael Hall | Texas Monthly | January 2007
“1. Erykah Badu Sings and Dances 2. Raises Her Children 3. Grows Herbs 4. Rides a Skateboard 5. Saves Her Old Hood in Dallas 6. And Works on Her New Album, Which Will Be Finished When It’s Finished”

10. My Beautiful Oubliette: The Difficulty of Being a Writer in Prison
By Dean Faiello | LitHub | June 2017
“Prisons are not set up to inspire writers; I have few choices of where to put down my piece of paper and write. That’s the whole idea of prison rehabilitation — limit the choices and temptations that daily life offers, and hopefully, men will learn to make the right decisions. But the reality is that many of us simply find a way to get what we want. Prison makes us smarter criminals.”

Amerikan Rambler: Writing a Book, Part II: The First Review

From June 2014: “I can say that I survived my first review. It neither made nor ruined my day.”

In my last post about “Marching Masters,” I discussed the early stages of writing a book, which involved much research. After the research comes the writing, a discussion of which I will have to skip this time. Because recently, while searching online, I read the first review of my book.

via Writing a Book, Part II: The First Review — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The myth of Robert E. Lee / The liberalism of Islam / Comey’s intellectual history / Trump’s credibility / Writing in a library

This week: The myth of Robert E. Lee / The liberalism of Islam / Comey’s intellectual history / Trump’s credibility / Writing in a library

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The Myth of the Kindly General Lee
By Adam Serwer | The Atlantic | June 4
“Lee had beaten or ordered his own slaves to be beaten for the crime of wanting to be free, he fought for the preservation of slavery, his army kidnapped free blacks at gunpoint and made them unfree — but all of this, he insisted, had occurred only because of the great Christian love the South held for blacks.”

2. There Is No Better Place to Write than the Library
By Joe Kanon | Atria :: LitHub | June 8
“For over twenty years I have been writing in the New York Public Library — eight novels and a ninth underway — and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

3. In defense of ‘The Skimm’
By Kaitlin Ugolik | Columbia Journalism Review | June 6
“Yes, the news is often complicated. Yes, we should encourage readers to pay attention for more than a few minutes each day. But when we imply that there is only one ‘right’ way to consume the news, or to be informed, we exclude people who don’t — or can’t — fit that mold.”

4. NASA Jobs: The Application, Selection Process For How To Become An Astronaut
By Nina Godlewski | International Business Times | June 7
“There’s no set schedule for how frequently NASA puts out a call for applicants. Since 2000 it has announced classes in 2004, 2009, 2013 and now 2017. … So if you’ve been dreaming of space, you may have to wait a few more years to get your next shot at the stars.”

5. James Comey’s Intellectual History
By Nicholas Schmidle | The New Yorker | June 7
“After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, in 1985, Comey clerked for Judge John Walker, Jr., George H. W. Bush’s cousin, in the Southern District of New York. Comey became a Republican. In public, however, he portrayed himself as nonpartisan.”

6. ‘The Leftovers,’ Life, Death, Einstein and Time Travel
By Maureen Ryan | Variety | May 2017
“‘The Leftovers’ is about quantum mechanics. Don’t let the sex cults and post-death karaoke distract you. It is essentially a showcase for physics.”

7. The 35 words you’re (probably) getting wrong
By Harold Evans | The Guardian | June 5
“Have you made a flagrant error, in confusing your alternative choices? The legendary Fleet Street editor Harold Evans proscribes this glossary to solve your language dilemmas”

8. AP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts homeland security secretary
By Calvin Woodward and Jim Drinkard | Associated Press | June 5
“President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.”

9. Trump’s dangerous delusions about Islam
By Christopher de Bellaigue | The Guardian | February 2017
“The president and his advisers paint Muslims as enemies of modernity. The neglected history of an age of Middle Eastern liberalism proves them wrong”

10. Governor Struggles to Lead as Texas Republicans Splinter Into Factions
By Manny Fernandez and David Montgomery | The New York Times | June 5
“Mr. Abbott is facing a fundamental question: How conservative is conservative enough for the governor of a state that defines the right in America as much as California defines the left?”

Kate Stone’s Civil War: I was young again

Stone’s last three entries in her diary are from September 1867 and 1868. They form a somber epilogue to her chaotic journey. They capture a bitter reflection of a shattered Southern slaveholding society, adrift, confused, and afraid of a world in which they no longer rule.

KS10

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s last three entries in her diary are from September 1867 and 1868. They form a somber epilogue to her chaotic Civil War journey. They capture a bitter reflection of a shattered Southern slaveholding society, adrift, confused, and afraid of a world in which they no longer rule.

Read her first entry in this series here.

Sept. 22, 1867

Brokenburn

A long silence and a year of hard endeavor to raise a crop, reconstruct the place with the problem of hired labor, high water, and cotton worms. Mamma had little trouble in getting advances in New Orleans to plant. Cotton is so high that merchants are anxious to advance to put in a crop, and there is much Northern capital seeking investment in that field. … The Negroes demanded high wages, from $20 to $25 for men, in addition to the old rations of sugar, rice, tobacco, molasses, and sometimes hams. Many of the old hands left, and My Brother went to New Orleans and brought back a number of ex-Negro soldiers, who strutted around in their uniforms and were hard to control. I was deadly afraid of them.

During the spring while Mamma and I were in New Orleans (Mamma on business and she took me for my pleasure), and Uncle Bo and My Brother and Jimmy were away for a few hours, Johnny had a fight with a young Negro in the field, shot and came near killing him, and was mobbed in return. Johnny would have been killed but for the stand one of the Negroes made for him and Uncle Bo’s opportune arrival just as the Negroes brought him to the house a howling, cursing mob with the women shrieking, “Kill him!” and all brandishing pistols and guns. It came near breaking up the planting, and it is a pity it did not as it turned out. Johnny had to be sent away. He was at school near Clinton [Miss.] and the Negroes quieted down and after some weeks the wounded boy recovered, greatly to Johnny’s relief. He never speaks now of killing people as he formerly had a habit of doing. He came home when school closed and there was no further trouble.

Then the water came up and we were nearly overflowed. The cotton planted was very late, and when it was looking as luxuriant and promising as possible and we saw ease of mind before us, the worms came. In a few days the fields were blackened like fire had swept over them. We made about twenty bales and spent $25,000 doing it. What most distresses me is that none of that money went for our personal comfort. All of it went to the Negroes. Mamma would buy only bare necessaries for the table and plainest clothes for the family. Not a luxury, no furniture, carpets, or anything. We are worse off for those things than even in Texas and such a sum spent! But Mamma said it was not honest to spend the money on anything but making the crop. All in this section have suffered in the same way, and for awhile they seemed stunned by their misfortunes. But now the reaction has come, and all are taking what pleasure offers.

Old neighbors and new ones have come in and all seemed to be anxious to be together and talk over their trials and tribulations. There has been much visiting and various picnics and fish frys. I would not go at first. I felt like I did not want to see anybody or ever dance again. I felt fully forty years old, but Mamma made me go after a good cry. Once there, I was compelled to exert myself, and soon I was enjoying it all. The burden of some of the years slipped from my shoulders, and I was young again. It was pleasant to talk nonsense, to be flattered though one knew it was flattery, and to be complimented and fussed over. So since then, Mamma, the boys, and all of us have been going to everything and have found even poverty in company more bearable than when suffered alone. …

September 1868

Rose Hill

In January My Brother rented this place knowing that Brokenburn would be again overflowed, and we moved out the latter part of the month. My Brother lost money again last year planting, and this year he determined to farm, planting a little of everything.

Johnny and Jimmy are both at home, and having nothing to do pulled off their coats and rolled up their sleeves and went to work to raise a crop of corn and potatoes for themselves. They have succeeded well as they will clear several hundred dollars.

We all regret so much Jimmy’s refusal to go buck to the hospital. … We fear he is throwing away the best chance of his life. The boys are so hot and tired when they come in from the fields. …

Sept. 28, 1868

Rose Hill

Mother has been in Vicksburg for a month on a visit to Aunt Sarah. It is her first outing for eighteen months. We hope it will benefit her — her health has been bad for more than a year. She is seldom out of bed more than a week at a time. It took great persuasion and the pointed urging of the whole family to induce her to go on this visit that Aunt Sarah has been begging her to take for months.

Jimmy is now on the wharf boat, Johnny at Omega, and Sister, My Brother, and I have it all our own way with but little to do. My Brother is making an excellent crop and is much more cheerful. …

How we wish Sister could be sent off to school for two years, but it has been impossible. No money. … Let us hope that now the current will change and success will be our portion, as the outlook is brighter than for three years.

This is a pleasant neighborhood … and everybody has been kind and polite about calling and coming in at all times. [The other day we] had another of those inevitable dances that have been given so often this summer. Mary and Katie Byrnes, Louise Meagher, and the other girls never seem to tire of them, but they wear me out — such a sameness. I doubt not that I am getting too old for such gaieties. The men and boys about here are so silly and boyish in conversation. …

It has been an enjoyable life since we came here in January. It is a pleasant enough cottage house, after we got it thoroughly cleaned. There is a lovely little flower yard and a splendid orchard, and the kindest and most sociable neighbors with various little entertainments and dances. …We have new books and papers ad libitum, a luxury we missed for years.

My Brother has just sent Mamma money to buy our winter clothes, and Sister and I are jubilant at the prospect of new dresses and bonnets. We have lived on very little of late years, little bought that was not absolutely necessary. They have dressed me better than any of the others. I have not wanted for anything indispensable for a young lady, but the only money I have spent really as I wished was five dollars of the ten Uncle Bob gave me when Mamma and I went to New Orleans three winters ago. …

What splendid fellows my brothers are. They are all so good to us and such handsome boys. Sister looks almost the same, scarcely older than three years ago. We hope she can go to school this fall and make her debut next fall. If not, I shall beg Mamma to put long dresses … on her and bring her out this winter. She has a gay cheerful nature, and I hope will have a happy girlhood.

Mamma’s bright hopeful spirit never change. She is us always the ruling power with us all, the center and light of our home. How much she will have to tell us on her return, and maybe Aunt Sarah will come with her.

Well, this is the last page of the book that has gone with me through all our journeying. Looking back to the beginning so many years ago, I realize what an unthankful, wicked girl I was not to be supremely happy. With youth, health, and everything surrounding me for comfort and happiness. with unmistakable blessings, I was yet an unsatisfied, discontented girl. It has taken trouble to teach me my faults, and how earnestly I try now to enjoy instead of repine, to be thankful instead of fault-finding. I will try always to see the silver lining to the cloud. All my life I have been surrounded with love and care, far more than I deserved, and I will try in the future to be more worthy of the blessings that brighten my pathway.

So this is the end — shall I ever care to write again?

FINIS