“Good Evening, Everybody”

An Interview With Lowell Thomas

As the lights of London’s Covent Garden dimmed that early August evening in 1919, few people, including the young narrator waiting nervously in the wings, sensed the historic nature of the occasion. A full house of formally dressed English gentry listened expectantly through the overture by the Royal Welsh Guards Band as the rising curtain unveiled the Moonlight on the Nile. An exotic dancer glided onstage, while a tenor voice in the background spread a lyric Mohammedan call to prayer through the vast theater. Read more »

The Sage Of Emporia

Newspaper editor William Allen White once observed that “in the country town we gain in contact with our neighbors. We know people by the score, by the hundred.…Our affairs become common with one another, our joys mutual, and even our sorrows are shared.…It all makes life pleasantly livable.” And for half a century, he was the country’s most influential spokesman for small-town America; his tragedy was that he never quite believed what he said. Read more »

Working With Bruce Catton

Oliver Jensen, who was for many years the editor of this magazine and who worked with Bruce Catton from its first publication in 1954, has written this account of what it was like to have him as a colleague. We are pleased to run it here as a tribute to our late distinguished senior editor, together with some side comments from others who enjoyed the privilege of “working with Bruce Catton.”Read more »

Close Encounters Of The Earliest Kind

During November of 1896 the United States experienced its first publicized UFO flap, and it is perhaps not surprising that it should have occurred in California. After all, Erich von Däniken would have us believe that the prehistoric petroglyphs in Inyo County represent interplanetary flight; Fray Geronimo Boscana, the missionary at San Juan Capistrano, described a “two-tailed comet” overhead in 1823; and in 1883 the scientist John J.Read more »

An Artist-sportsman’s Portfolio

A. B. Frost faithfully recorded the woodland pursuits of himself and his affluent friends

Arthur Burdett Frost, who at the turn of the century was perhaps the best-known and most popular illustrator in America, sketched and painted his way from relatively humble beginnings to hobnobbing with the leisure class. A significant element in this ascension was his lifelong fascination with sports of field and stream: he often hunted and fished with gentlemen of affluence, and depicted their passionate pursuits on paper and canvas with such accuracy and verve that they came to consider him the sportsman-artist par excellence.Read more »

Spalding’s Austrian Baseball Tour.

Albert Spalding’s middle name was Goodwill, which seemed fitting in 1888 when the baseball impresario and sporting goods king decided to take the game on a grand tour to parts of the world as yet unexposed to the glories of the American national pastime. His own Chicago White Stockings and an All America team drawn from both professional leagues would play exhibition games around the globe.Read more »

Jack London

The Man Who Invented Himself

Jack London carved himself a special niche in the annals of American literature. Born in poverty in the first month of America’s centennial year, he spent his boyhood suffering the rejection of an unloving mother and much of his young manhood as a careless delinquent, a waterfront roisterer, and a road bum, quite as mindless of his own self-destruction as any modern youth who wastes himself with drugs and hitchhikes the interstates from nowhere to nowhere else. Read more »

Satan’s Lexicographer

“The world is my country, to hate rascals is my religion” he once said, and for more than forty years—before he mysteriously vanished—he blasted away at the delusions, pretentions, posturings, hopes, dreams, foibles, and institutions of all mankind. His name was Ambrose Bierce …

If Ambrose Bierce, America’s first exponent of black humor, crudest epigrammist, and most terrifying teller of horror tales, is now finally coming into his own, it is because thinking Americans are finally recognizing the relevance of his vision—that America is not the Peaceable Kingdom and its citizens are no less aggressive, fearful, pretentious, and greedy than all other members of the human race. Read more »

The Inspired Leak

The leak was known of old. It can afflict either a ship or a government, it invariably means that something invisible has gone wrong, and in certain cases it ends in disaster. It is instructive to reflect on the differences between the leak as known to mariners and the leak as known to politicians, political scientists, and newspaper correspondents. Read more »