Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — What Larry Woiwode Did

Why not? Why not scribble down some thoughts about Larry Woiwode. Nobody else seems to be doing that. He deserves better. Larry was one of those people who drifted in and out of my life. Our meetings were almost always by chance. The last was a couple of years ago in the parking lot at Menard’s in Bismarck. It delayed …


Unheralded

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Dangers Of Settling For Truthiness

Systematic attacks on the truth, supercharged through social media, trolling and cancel culture, have Americans angry, frustrated and unsure as to where to turn for knowledge. It’s a crisis of historic proportions, but author Jonathan Rauch argues we already have in place a structure from which to repel these assaults of disinformation. He locates it within the global network of …


CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — ‘Sivilizing’ Mark Twain: One Scholar’s Effort To Make Huck Finn Safe For School Again

“All modern American literature,” Ernest Hemingway once proclaimed, “comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’” Despite such accolades, this masterwork from Twain — the pen name used by Samuel Clemens — has been slowly disappearing from American classrooms, a development primarily driven by the novel’s repeated use — 219 times in all — of that uniquely offensive term that …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A Brief History Of Violence In The Capitol: The Foreshadowing Of Disunion

The Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol stands as a prevailing symbol of the country’s present-day polarization. But while the brutality of that day sits in the minds of many Americans as unprecedented, historian Joanne Freeman reminds us that violence within the Capitol has a long history. In “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War,” Joanne …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A Centuries-Old Travel Guide Unlocks Clues To Our Future

When Thomas Jefferson left the United States in 1784 to serve as his fledgling country’s ambassador to France, he was still reeling from the death of his wife, Martha, and the remnants of political scandal in Virginia. Looking for a new beginning, Jefferson traveled in and beyond France whenever his job allowed, collecting items and ideas he would bring home …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Dammed Rivers That Shaped America’s West

The evolution of the sprawling cities of the American West is inextricably bound to America’s 20th-century fascination with dam-building. But that decades-long story, rife with dammed and diverted rivers as well as political intrigue, is being reshaped by climate change, drought and overuse into a tale of ecologic and economic misadventure. Despite the problematic history of the big dam projects, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Early Republic Was Stress Tested For Times Like Ours

America’s consciousness is indelibly shaped by the competing legacies of three distinct personalities: a fast-talking New Yorker, a quintessential Yankee and a Virginia squire. In his book, “Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding,” historian Darren Staloff explores the social, intellectual and personal dynamics that shaped these men and helped define the nation. Staloff teaches courses …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Rescuing Great Books From The Elites

It was in May 1985 that young Roosevelt Montás emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Queens, N.Y. He arrived in America in time to celebrate his 12th birthday. The plane trip, the first of the boy’s life, took only 3½ hours, but the figurative distance he traveled was immeasurable. The boy landed in the United States poor and disoriented and …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — The Tricky Politics Of America’s War For Independence

It’s the tendency of Americans, suggests historian and best-selling author H. W. Brands, to simplify the past, when in truth our history is every bit as complicated and divisive as the present. Working to shine light on overlooked complexities, Brands probes the intersections of individual lives and narratives — what he calls “little history” — with the overarching accounts of …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Can Political Parties Reform Themselves To Guide The Country Forward?

Party politics have always been controversial, but they have evolved into an unattractive piece of American democracy in recent decades. They have helped fuel fires of polarization and choked down legislative efforts at all levels of government. As a result, political parties themselves are under assault. Conservative journalist and historian Jay Cost, however, believes these efforts are misguided. He argues …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — On Big Problems: Expect More From States, Less From Supreme Court

In today’s polarized political climate, Americans nervously anticipate U.S. Supreme Court rulings with the same fervor with that they enjoy sports, and with the same goal in mind: namely, to win. But American government is not a game, cautions U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton. By forcing the Supreme Court to make notably divisive, winner-take-all decisions, he argues, …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Reflections On A Year Of Reading About Race In America

Since I woke up a little after the killing of George Floyd on May 20, 2020, I have done a good deal of what I regard as required reading about race in America. I started with Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.” Then I read Carol Anderson’s “White Rage: The Unspoken …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — Can The White American Church Find Its Way from Its Segregationist Past To A Diverse Future?

America’s racial reckoning — seen in protests in the streets and at school board meetings and even shaping this past Tuesday’s election results — comes as the nation continues to shift rapidly. The latest data — from the U.S. Census and the Pew Research Center, respectively — shows 40 percent of Americans now identify with a race other than white …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — The Story Of Black Motherhood And How It Shaped America

On Friday, federal government employees had the day off to commemorate Juneteenth, a new federal holiday formally created the day before — some 156 years after it was first celebrated by newly emancipated Black people in Galveston, Texas. Millions of White Americans became aware of Juneteenth for the first time this past year only after the racial-justice protests that followed the death of George …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — FUTURE IN CONTEXT America’s New Gilded Age: The Cycles Of Constitutional Time

In “The Cycles of Constitutional Time,” Jack Balkin takes an overarching look at the dynamics of constitutional government over the history of the United States. To understand what is happening today, he argues, “we have to think in terms of political cycles that interact with each other and create remarkable — and dark — times.” Single-term presidents, Balkin notes, often …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Breaking Ice: What Happens When A Branch Of The Armed Forces Opens To Women

Long before Admiral Sandy Stosz retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2018, she knew that she wanted to write a book on leadership. With nearly 40 years of experience to draw on, from her early days as an ensign on polar icebreakers to her final assignment as the first female to serve as deputy commandant for Mission Support, Stosz had gained …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — The Revolutionary Lives Of Malcolm X And MLK In The Time of George Floyd

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X rose from markedly different backgrounds to assume leading roles in the civil rights movement, and though each died violently while playing his respective part, neither man fully exited the stage. Both remain to this day celebrated figures in the fight for racial and economic justice. Their much-publicized differences, most notably violence versus nonviolence, have …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Grab A Dictionary, Save The Republic

Distressed at the dearth of civic understanding in the United States, Ed Hagenstein worked for over two decades to create “The Language of Liberty: A Citizen’s Vocabulary.” Its purpose is simple: The constitution demands consensus and our form of government requires discourse, which depends in turn on a precise and nuanced vocabulary of its own. Hagenstein has set out to …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Solastalgia: The Drought Of 2021 In North Dakota

Here in North Dakota in the spring of 2021, the headlines about the pandemic are being pushed aside by the daily news of the extreme drought and prairie fires. All of us search the forecast in hopes of rain, knowing the damage this is causing to the people, the critters and the landscape we love. All of us search for …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — North Dakota’s Gold Rush: A Memoir About The Fracking Boom

Michael Patrick F. Smith would not seem to fit the profile of an oil field worker. He’s an actor, a musician and a playwright who sublet his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment to head out west to Williston, N.D., during the height of the Bakken Oil Boom in 2013. As he admits, “It’s a weird resume for a man applying to work …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — From Wounded Knee To Pipeline Access, The Lakota’s Enduring Power

Most histories of the “Indian Wars” in the American West end with the Wounded Knee Massacre on Dec. 29, 1890, when U.S. troops of the Seventh Cavalry killed between 200 and 300 Lakota (Sioux) people, the majority of them women and children, most of whom had been disarmed, at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, just one year into its …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Nicholas Christakis And Understanding Our Year With COVID-19

Nicholas Christakis’ “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live“ is an outstanding book. I agree with the eminent historian of ideas Niall Ferguson, who called it “magisterial” in his review in the Times Literary Supplement. I could not recommend it more highly. It’s not only the most readable of the books published on …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Living Through The Pandemic: A Review One Year Later

A year into the modern pandemic era, it seems reasonable to ask, what have we learned? And what should we have learned? I found answers to those questions in a wide-ranging interview with Nicholas Christakis, the author of “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.” Christakis is the Sterling Professor of Social and …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Separating The Wheat From The Chaff

The faux rage about “canceling” Dr. Seuss because the corporation that preserves his legacy removed a small handful of his countless books because of content that clearly is not appropriate and is hurtful in 2021 is so off point. Much of what Theodor Geisel wrote was lovely or fun. That is not going anywhere. It is the process of separating …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — Donald Trump Has Earned Membership In The President’s Club, The World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity; What Does It Mean?

For only the third time in history, there are a record six living presidents in the United States, including the current White House occupant Joseph R. Biden Jr., along with Barack Obama, who he served as vice president. The list also includes George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and now Donald J. Trump. All went into the White House …

CLAY JENKINSON: Future In Context — The Bill Of Rights, Federalism And The Struggles Of A United America

David French is a senior editor of The Dispatch, a conservative online political magazine. A graduate of Harvard Law School, an Iraq War veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star, French’s most recent book, “Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation,” was reviewed by Governing in October. In the book, French warns how hardening ideological …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My Last Conversation With Fred Rogers (Nine Days after Sept. 11, 2001)

From Chapter 16 of the Tim’s book, “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers“: When Fred was a boy in Latrobe, Pa., his mother taught him how to look for hope during the darkest times. “In times of tragedy, look for the helpers,” Nancy McFeely Rogers would often tell her son. “They’re always there. Perhaps on the sidelines, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: A Bird-y Essay At The Height Of Tomato Harvest

At Red Oak House we are birders. And foodies. And frugal. On Monday at dawn I heard a bird strike a window just as I was stepping out to the patio to sip coffee and quietly read the morning newspaper. The signs of autumn migration are all around and we have a small birdbath that is critical water for the …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — How Cancer Led to Reconciliation Between Fred Claire And Tommy Lasorda: An Excerpt From ‘Extra Innings’

In 1988, as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fred Claire was the architect of the team’s last World Series championship. Nearly three decades later, in the winter of 2017, cancer that had begun as speck on Fred’s lip had returned with a vengeance. The prognosis had been poor from the time his melanoma had spread to his jaw …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Day Kirk Gibson Challenged His Dodger Teammates To Fight: An Excerpt From Extra Innings

July 7 is the official publication date of my new book, “Extra Innings.” I love the story of Fred’s Claire’s inspiring fight against cancer at City of Hope National Medical Center in California, one of the world’s finest medical institutions. But as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fred was also the architect of the team’s last World Series championship …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘Sick From What I See’: An Excerpt From ‘The Burning: Massacre, Destruction And The Tulsa Race Riot Of 1921’

Margaret Dickinson’s mother was often too ill to care for her youngest child, so from the time Margaret was old enough to walk, the little girl accompanied her father to job sites, or to meetings with Tulsa power brokers, or to any of the other myriad engagements befitting the owner of the young city’s most prominent construction firm. Wilfred Dickinson’s …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My Coming Book: On Medicine’s Finest, And Another Remarkable Guy Named Fred

I met Fred Claire about this time last year on my first visit to City of Hope National Medical Center near Los Angeles. Fred, his wife, Sheryl, and I talked for two hours that first day, sitting in the shade outside a research building on the sprawling campus. Fred never let on then that he was in terrible pain from …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Prayer For Black History Month

In the year 2000, as part of my research for a book on the Tulsa, Okla., race massacre of 1921, I interviewed an elderly man named Richard Gary, who told me this story. On a day in early June 1921, his father, a white Tulsa resident named Hugh Gary, loaded his young sons, Richard and Hubert, into the family Dodge …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — On Art, Architecture And, Of Course, People

Here is an excerpt from my latest book, “Of the First Class: A History of the Kimbell Art Museum.” Chapter 1 Sacred Ground On a muggy summer Saturday in 2014, 8,000 people converged on the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural district: the “Great Lawn” of the Kimbell Art Museum. The crowd was double what organizers of that day’s festival had …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Samuel Johnson’s ‘A Dictionary Of The English Language’

During the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s recent impeachment hearings, I was surprised to hear several constitutional law scholars cite Samuel Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” for definitions of treason, misdemeanors, bribery, etc, a reference to Dr. Johnson’s 1755 dictionary of the English language. It is not altogether uncommon to hear the name Dr. Johnson — usually in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Momaday, Falling Stars And Two Extraordinary Nights in November

This is a significantly revised version of my original blog posted on Wednesday with the addition of details I’ve located since that date as well as updates on the Thursday’s Unicorn showers. Although the annual Leonids meteor showers have come and gone, the news about a potential “rich burst” of shooting stars from the Unicorn meteor showers has me thinking back …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Era Bell Thompson

Dorette and I are spending some time in Grand Forks. The weather is touch and go this time of year, so I brought along some reading material. One of the books is Liesl Olson’s “Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis.” Of most interest to me is her account of the black writer, Era Bell Thompson, 1905-1986, who had …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Do What You Want, But Stay Off Of My Little Mo’

Here’s part of an article that appears in the November issue of Dakota Country magazine, on the newsstands now. “If we find the moral courage to save the Little Missouri River Valley today, we will congratulate ourselves 100 years from now, just as we congratulate Theodore Roosevelt for bucking the industrial zeitgeist a hundred years ago to set aside 230 …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — ‘Robinson Crusoe’

Over the past few days, I have had the wonderful guilty pleasure of sitting down to read “Robinson Crusoe” cover to cover. I know I should have been doing other things, some of them pressing, but I just sat there and read this famous and fabulous account of a man who is shipwrecked on a small island off Venezuela and …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Farewell To Edmund Morris

I want to take a moment to lament the passing of one of the finest scholar-biographers of our time Edmund Morris. The great biographer of Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt died May 24. He was 78 years old. Morris was born in Kenya on May 27, 1940, to South African parents. He moved to Britain in 1964. Without a college …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — ‘The Paris Husband’

As my friends know, I recently finished my annual rereading of Proust’s 4,300 page novel “In Search Of Lost Time.” Hemingway is my second most liked dead writer. On my night stand is a new history “The Paris Husband: How It Really Was Between Ernest & Hadley Hemingway.” Don’t confuse this book with another, “The Paris Wife,” a fictionalized account …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Where The Wild Things Are

On April 9 in 1963, a classic of children’s literature, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” was published. It is what is known as a picture book and has been beloved by generations since then. Max, a little boy, travels in his imagination (or sleep) to an island inhabited by wild creatures. “Let the wild rumpus start,” he says! …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — What I Wish I Knew

My friend, Nancy Palmer O’Malley, has written a lovely and quietly provocative book, which she intends as a gift to relatives and a small number of friends. But when she shared it with me a few weeks ago, I sense immediately that her wisdom and yearning would resonate with a much larger audience. “My family never wanted to discuss delicate …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Jefferson Watch — Essential Reading In The National Crisis

Hello, everyone. I’m urging you to do me the following favor. Get a copy of Robert Kagan’s recent book, “The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World,” and read it over the next few weeks. It’s a short book. It’s a brilliant book. It’s an exceedingly important book. And it explains a lot of things that may seem puzzling …