Fair Comment

Americans don’t hesitate to say anything they please about a public performance. But the right to do so wasn’t established until the Cherry Sisters sued a critic who didn’t like their appalling vaudeville act.

The year 1896 found Oscar Hammerstein in trouble. He was in debt, and the acts he had brought to Broadway weren’t doing well. He was desperate. “I’ve tried the best,” he is reported to have said. “Now I’ll try the worst.” So he sent for the Cherry Sisters. Effie, Addie, Jessie, Lizzie, and Ella Cherry clearly were the worst act of the day. They couldn’t dance, and they couldn’t sing. In fact, they couldn’t do anything at all. Except draw crowds. Read more »

Freedom Of The Press: How Far Can They Go?

The Supreme Court says the First Amendment gives newspapers the right to denounce the government, advocate revolution, attack public figures, and even be wrong. This may not be nice—but those who understand the strengths of a republic wouldn’t have it any other way.

During the summer of 1919 a group of dissident members of the Socialist party, including the radical journalist John Reed, published a manifesto in the left-wing newspaper Revolutionary Age attacking the party’s more moderate elements and calling on workers in the United States to rise up and “overthrow the political organization upon which capitalistic exploitation depends.” The only uprising their “Left Wing Manifesto” engendered was a walkout by Reed and his comrades at the Socialist party’s national convention that AuRead more »

Krazy Kat A Love Story

There’s a corner of every Americans heart that is reserved for a cartoon cat. Its name might be Garfield, Sylvester, Fritz, or Felix. But there will never be another Krazy.

In 1938, at the age of nine, I discovered one of life’s cruelest ironies: the best comic strips invariably appear in the worst newspapers. Since Hearst’s Evening Journal-American was, according to my mother, the worst “fascist rag” in New York, it was inevitable that Popeye, Maggie and Jiggs, and Krazy Kat would be locked up in its pages. With the Journal banned at home, my glimpses of Krazy were destined to be fleeting.Read more »

Making History

An Interview With Theodore H. White

It is hard to remember a decade when Theodore White has not been reporting on the sweep of current events in some best-selling book: Thunder Out of China in 1946, Fire in the Ashes (on Europe’s postwar resurgence) in 1953, and, since 1961, quadrennial narrations of our most exciting political drama, The Making of the President . There have also been two widely enjoyed novels, a great many articles, and an autobiography, In Search of History . Mr.Read more »

American Characters

AMERICAN CHARACTERS

Lincoln Steffens was a young reporter for the Commercial Advertiser during the late 1890’s, and he always remembered it as a grand time for a New York City newspaperman: “There was the Cuban war, the Boer war, and best of all—Tammany was back in power.” Tammany Hall, “which has voters but no friends,” had just had its hold on City Hall briefly shaken by a reform administration; now, “hungry and irritated,” it was back in business, “providing us with a world of public enemies to hate and unconcealed schemes to expose.” AndRead more »

Yankee Tarzan

WHEN JOSEPH KNOWLES STRIPPED TO THE BUFF AND SLIPPED INTO THE MAINE WOODS IN 1913, HE HOPED TO LEAD THE NATION BACK TO NATURE.

It was raining. A forty-four-year-old man named Joseph Knowles gingerly entered an old logging road in the Dead River country of Maine. He was nearly naked and carried no tools, weapons, or equipment of any sort, not even a bottle of mosquito repellent. Read more »

Ernie Pyle

Chronicler of “The Men Who Do the Dying”

During a driving rain, the American infantry company worked its way toward a German strong point rmi the outskirts of Cherbourg. Rifle and machinegun fire echoed through the deserted streets, and shells passed overhead with rustling noises before exploding. Riflemen edged along both sides of a narrow, winding street, now darting forward, now crouching beside a wall or ducking into a doorway. They halted when they came up behind two American tanks training their guns on a German pillbox.Read more »

The True Story Of Bernard Macfadden

LIFE and LOVES of the FATHER of the CONFESSION MAGAZINE

In 1950 a biographer of the elderly Bernarr Macfadden—who by then was known primarily as an octogenarian health fanatic who took a parachute jump each year on his birthday—remarked that his subject’s boyhood adventures bore “a stunning resemblance to the pulp fiction of the period.” That is true but not surprising.Read more »

War Correspondent, 1864: The Sketchbooks Of James E. Taylor

When old James E. Taylor exercised his powers of near-total recall to set down memories of the Shenandoah campaign, he left us a unique record of a very new, very hazardous profession

“Mr. Taylor’s entire career has been fraught with vicissitudes and picturesque adventures” —James E. Taylor Read more »