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Hello World

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Hamilton’s Pulitzer Prize: Listen to the Words

Now that he’s won the Pulitzer Prize for it, maybe we’ll pay attention to the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, the genre-smashing Broadway hit that costs a monthly car payment to attend.  When we listen to the words – really listen – we can appreciate his achievement. Magic can happen when story and words and…

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Why F. Scott?

This morning brings the inaugural installment of a monthly piece I’ll be writing for the Washington Independent Review of Books.  The subjects will be what I’m reading, writing, or thinking about.  This morning’s effort puzzles over the bafflingly inflated reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I don’t get it. . . .

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WWI: Who was the enemy?

As the World War I centennial continues to gear up, and as I slouch to the end of my novel on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, I have stumbled upon the most remarkable French memoir of the war — Poilu.  (Thanks to Andy Dayton for recommending it.) Louis Barthas was a barrelmaker in the…

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The Booth Conspiracy hits CSPAN 3 on Sunday night, December 15

My talk about the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy  to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond will be aired on CSPAN 3 this weekend at 9 p.m. on Sunday, December 15, and then again at midnight.  It was a great turnout and a terrific audience.  I have learned that Virginians pay attention to history. The title…

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E-Books and Libraries: Not So Fast!

The Montgomery County Council, which presides over my home jurisdiction and which includes my favorite person (my wife Nancy), is considering a resolution demanding that various state and federal government organs act immediately to ensure that the county’s library users have access to e-books in a “reasonable and non-discriminatory manner.” The only problem with this…

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They Don't Get It: "Enemy Combatant" = Terrorist Win

With the oh-so-welcome arrest of apparent terrorist bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, and the killing of his brother/accomplice, some Republican senators are perversely urging a policy that would award the terrorists their greatest possible victory.  They urge that Tsarnaev be declared an “enemy combatant” in order to allow the use of summary legal procedures against him, and…

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The horror. The horror.

Sometimes I admire a book of history but am pleased I didn’t have to write it.  Either it seems like a too-long project, or involves difficult research efforts, or requires spending psychic time with unattractive historical figures and situations. All of those emotions arose as I recently read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, a harrowing depiction of the…

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The Brookeville White House

Just off Route 97 in Brookeville, Maryland, stands an 18th Century home, lovingly restored by Sandy and Duane Heiler, that served as America’s capital for about 18 hours in late August 1814. Invading Maryland from ships in the Chesapeake Bay, British troops routed the Maryland militia in the somewhat embarrassing Battle of Bladensburg, then put…

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Colonel Burr Onstage!

    On Sunday, mi enamorata and I made a madcap day-trip to New York to view some one-act plays at the Founders’ Festival at the Metropolitan Playhouse on the Lower East Side.  The Festival features eight plays in repertory through this Sunday, all about some aspect of the nation’s Founding era.  Though we managed to see three…

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