Another ‘Great’ Depression?

I certainly hope Paul Krugman of The New York Times is wrong, but I fear he isn’t. His latest op-ed column warns of a third depression for the United States.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.”

There’s also discussion of the fiscal mess of many Western nations in the Financial Times by columnist Clive Crook.



The Replacements

 Here’s some more material from The Long Way Home by Laskin. It focuses on the days just prior to Leslie Darling‘s death during World War I. Major George R. Rau, another immigrant soldier, had just been killed.

On July 25, just hours after the shell exploded on Major Rau, the Yankee Division was removed from the line and the 42nd Division . . . took its place.”

There’s some good background on the the Rainbow, the 42nd Division.

By American standards, the men of the Rainbow Division were battle-hardened veterans, having been among the first American troops to arrive in France in November 1917; but they had never been in action as fierce as the fighting they encountered at the Ourcq River in the last days of July. The Rainbow Division’s Fighting Irish 69th . . . lost nearly half its men in the push to cross the Ourcq River (the River O’Rourke, the Irish boys called it).”

Joyce Kilmer, the soldier-poet, was killed on July 30. He was “shot through the head while scouting out German machine guns.”

The Aisne-Marne offensive raged on for another week . . . and finally ended on August 6.”

Pershing’s plans for ‘open warfare’ were costly. In “the three weeks of fighting the American Expeditionary Forces had suffered some thirty thousand casualties. General Pershing’s insistence on open warfare was proving to be just as costly in human life as the agonizing trench warfare that had come before.”

Laskin ends with a note on the birds among the battlefields.

So many who fought that summer in the farm fields of France remarked on the birdsong. For minutes or hours or days on end, the air reverberated with the boom and roar of artillery or the swarming rush of machine-gun fire, a ‘queer zeep-zeep, like insects fleeing to the rear,’ as one soldier described it. But when the guns fell silent at last , the song of birds resumed—perhaps it had never stopped?—as if nothing had happened, as if just another summer day was coming to an end, as if everything under the sun was as lovely and sweet as it had ever been.”


‘The Long Way Home’

I noticed the book The Long Way Home by David Laskin while at Borders a few weeks ago. Instead of buying it I decided to check the library system for a copy. There’s some good material on the immigrant experience and World War I.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one-third of the nation’s population had been born overseas or had a parent who was an immigrant. At the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, nearly one in five American soldiers was foreign-born.”

At times Laskin describes things rather well.

Every family departed with a store of memories, fears, terrible regrets, wild expectations, and pangs of anguish that would forever haunt their dreams.”

One of the dozen or so soldiers featured in the book is Maximilian ‘Max’ Cieminski. He was from the Kaszubia region, near where my great grandparents lived.

They weren’t refugees from war—that would come later—but they were refugees all the same. From hunger, passed like a disease from father to son. From villages with no water, no doctors, no schools, no hope. From state-sanctioned riots and systematic oppression and military conscription from which their sons never returned. Between 1880 and the 1920s, more than 23 million immigrants came to the United States—one of the largest population sifts in human history.”

It’s an interesting mix of scholarship and writing.

They came for work, and for freedom, opportunity, and the hope of better lives. They came to keep their sons out of the armies of kings and emperors, czar and Kaiser. None of them dreamed that one day these sons would be transported back across the ocean, some on the same ships that had carried them to freedom, to fight in Europe’s war.”


Watson’s ‘Double Helix’

Although my allergies are killing me again today, I want to keep up on my blog postings, particularly my Notes on History. I finally read a copy of James Watson‘s The Double Helix. Why I didn’t bother to read it sooner I really can’t explain. It’s a terrific book. And everyone should read it.

Francis Crick proves to be a wonderfully eccentric character, full of life and laughter. He is totally at odds with typical English manners, and this is described in the book. Some of his papers are at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Wikipedia has material on Crick and Watson’s original publication of their discoveries in Nature.

Another such person of note is Maurice Wilkins. All three–Wilkins, Crick and Watson–were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

Rosalind Franklin comes off as arrogrant and troublesome, which undoubtedly she was. Of course her contributions to the discovery of DNA structure has become the stuff of legend, especially for modern feminists and their ilk. Franklin certainly was no dummy. She was among the first to argue that the backbone of DNA was not at the center, but on the outer edge.

Henry Luce, The Publisher

Henry Luce is such a towering figure of the 20th century. I’ve always admired the man from afar, not knowing much about his personal life. He founded four important magazines: TIME, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated.

Conrad Black wrote a review of a new biography about Luce, The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century by Alan Brinkley, in the hard copy of National Review (May 3, 2010 | Volume LXII, No. 8). I couldn’t find a digital copy or link. Black regularly contributes to NR and NRO.

Other reviews were published in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and a Louisville newspaper serving Kentucky and Indiana. The New York Times had two significant writeups, one by the executive editor and another by a woman named Janet Maslin.

Brinkley, doing publicity for his book, adapted material for several outlets including TIME. He also did an audio interview with John J. Miller of NRO.


The Caren Archive

The Caren Archive has a vast assortment of materials — newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts and photographs — dating from the 16th century through the 21st. Proprietor Eric C. Caren says it “is the most significant private collection of rare newspapers and broadsides in the United States . . . literally documenting how history unfolded on paper.”

Caren “began collecting baseball cards, stamps, coins and more when he was 5 years old. At age 11, he discovered some newspapers in an abandoned house and the rest is history.”

In the eighties, he worked at a rare newspaper gallery in London in Covent Garden Market, before returning to the U.S. and founding the Archive. In 2001, the Newseum in Washington, DC, acquired more than 30,000 historic newspapers from The Caren Archive to build the majority of its permanent collection and feature exhibit.

Several outlets, from The New York Times to Amway, apparently use Caren. My sister a few years bought a copy of The Indianapolis Star. Its date was my birthday, down to the year. She had said that a copy of The Des Moines Register for that date couldn’t be found. (I was born in Iowa.) It was offered in an Amway gift catalogue. At the time she and her husband were actively building a little Amway franchise.

Vintage newspapers have become popular among large institutions and the general public. Several outlets, from The New York Times to Amway, apparently use Caren. My sister a few years bought a copy of The Indianapolis Star. Its date was my birthday, down to the year. She had said that a copy of The Des Moines Register for that date couldn’t be found. (I was born in Iowa.) It was offered in an Amway gift catalogue. At the time she and her husband were actively building a little Amway franchise.


The Top Ten

While at one of my favorite places, a book store, I discovered a book of lists just for men compiled by Russell Ash. There are lists on just about everything. In fact, Ash has a website dedicated to top ten lists.

Of course, what interests me most are the historical ones, such as the oldest buildings in the United States and its longest-running newspapers.

The White Horse Tavern in Rhode Island, built sometime prior to 1673, is one of America’s oldest buildings still standing. The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts is another site with a storied past. The Moravian Book Shop in Pennsylvania started in 1745 and it’s still operating. Among the oldest newspapers in the United States are the New Hampshire Gazette and the Hartford Courant.

I have all sorts of scribbled notes from this book, so I’ll be adding more tidbits as I have time.


Tweed Caps & Ireland

For the past couple of days I have been wearing a tweed cap straight from Ireland, the type often worn in the United States while golfing. Made by Hanna Hats Ltd. in Donegal, it’s one of the vintage models, similar to this one. Previously I’d been almost exclusively wearing baseball caps. But now I am branching out and love these traditional caps.

I had a bright, gleaming white one years ago, which I nearly lost in the Pacific Ocean after getting knocked down by a wave while walking on the beach with a cousin from Iowa. I thought it was gone forever, but my cousin found it a few minutes later after it washed ashore again.

My Boal and Shannon relatives started out in County Donegal, before moving to Derry, a ‘border’ town in Northern Ireland, and eventually Pennsylvania. I try to keep up with the news via BBC News and other sites.

According to the Boal Museum website, in the genealogy section, my ancestor James Boal emigrated to the United States in the spring of 1790, and, being a linen and carpet weaver, brought his loom along with him. He was born March 17, 1764 in Ireland and married Elizabeth Welch in 1787. He died June 22, 1836 in Centre County, Pennsylvania.