The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

He was a lieutenant in the Army of the United States: he saw no reason to sit in the back of the bus

ON JULY 6, 1944, Jackie Robinson, a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant, boarded an Army bus at Fort Hood, Texas. Sixteen months later he would be tapped as the man to break baseball’s color barrier, but in 1944 he was one of thousands of blacks thrust into the Jim Crow South during World War II. He was with the light-skinned wife of a fellow black officer, and the two walked half the length of the bus, then sat down, talking amiably.Read more »

Pacific War Museum

If HBO’s 10-part Pacific series has fired your interest in World War II’s Pacific Theater, consider visiting the newly renovated and much expanded George H. W. Bush Gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Inside the 33,000-square-foot gallery, whose architecture evokes an aircraft carrier, pill box, and Pacific island beachhead, is a Japanese midget submarine and a B-25 bomber flown on the 1942 Doolittle Raid, along with exhibits about the war’s origins and the major battles from Coral Sea to Okinawa. Read more »

“I Reckon You’re One Of Them New York Doves”

What happened when an anti—Vietnam War activist met his new client—Lyndon Johnson

As an American President presides over a divisive war without an apparent end, for the second time in my life, my thoughts have been drawn back nearly four decades to another President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and his war in Vietnam. In 1969 a strange twist of history—his and mine—made me, by then an antiwar activist, the publisher of a retired President whom I both respected and hated. Read more »

Texas Testament

A LIFETIME AGO A QUIET STRANGER passed through the author’s hometown and came away with a record of both personal and national importance

FOR HALF A CENTURY THE PICTURES HAD BEEN POPPING UP occasionally in books or magazines—razor-sharp blackand-white images of life in our little East Texas farm town in the thirties. The photos were usually captionless, the subjects identified merely by occupation—farmer, merchant, teacher, banker—but in San Augustine (population 3,026), where everyone always knew everybody else, recognition was immediate. Read more »

Among The Cowboys

 

The biggest roadside attraction along I-40 is the row of ten classic Cadillacs half buried, at the angle of the Great Pyramid, with tail fins upthrust, at Stanley Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The models range from 1946 to 1964. Marsh told me he wanted them to look as if they had been planted by members of some high civilization. Read more »

The Four Days That Made Tv News

What you don’t remember about the day JFK was shot

It was a series of sounds and images that had monumental impact and will always remain in the minds of those who watched: the bloodstained suit, the child saluting the coffin, the funeral procession to the muffled drums, the riderless horse. More than thirty years later American culture is still obsessed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and by its greater meaning. Yet, viewed purely in television terms, the impact of the four-day coverage of the Kennedy killing and funeral looms almost as large.Read more »

The Key To The Warren Report

Seen in its proper historical context—amid the height of the Cold War—the investigation into Kennedy’s assassination looks much more impressive and its shortcomings much more understandable

In September 1994, after doggedly repeating a white lie for forty-seven years, the Air Force finally admitted the truth about a mysterious 1947 crash in the New Mexico desert. The debris was not a weather balloon after all but wreckage from Project Mogul, a top-secret high-altitude balloon system for detecting the first Soviet nuclear blasts halfway across the globe. Read more »

The Alamo Recaptured

If you want to visit the relic itself, you must go to San
Antonio. But to get the feel of what it was like for Crockett and Travis and the rest, you should drive west into the Texas prairie.

You can tell the difference with a single touch. The stone wall of the actual Alamo, in the center of downtown San Antonio, has a cool, clammy feel, due mostly to the surrounding skyscrapers and tourist attractions casting mountainous shadows over their new dominion. But the Brackettville “Alamo,” facing steady sun and wind-driven sand, is warm and gritty to the touch, and its solitude in the sandy prairie of South Texas gives a flavor that matches our expectations. Read more »

Nicknames On The Land

A small but dependable pleasure of travel is encountering such blazons of civic pride as “Welcome to the City of Cheese, Chairs, Children, and Churches!”

Stephen Vincent Benét confessed that he had fallen in love with American placenames, and George R. Steward, author of the classic Names on the Land, wrote that he was born with rapturous feelings towards the names and cities that “lay thickly over the land.” Read more »

The Day Kennedy Was Shot

A routine chore for JFK’s official photographer became the most important assignment of his career. Much of his moving pictorial record appears here for the first time.

It was a typical motorcade. Cecil W. Stoughton had been in many like it. A forty-three-year-old veteran of the Signal Corps, Captain Stoughton had so impressed John F. Kennedy with pictures of his inauguration that the new President, through his military aide, appointed him his official photographer. In the course of thirty-four months, Stoughton had made more than eight thousand photographs of Kennedy and his family.Read more »