A Funny Man Writes A Serious Historical Novel

Gene Wilder discusses his new World War I adventure

Gene Wilder, the son of russian Jewish immigrants, was born in Milwaukee in 1933.Read more »

History Now

A Funny Man Writes a Serious Historical Novel The Buyable Past Resources Pop Goes The Nation “Don’t Be a Show Off” Why Do We Say...?

Hitchcock On Location

You can go there too, even to the Bates Motel

Although Alfred Hitchcock lived in the United States for more than 40 years, becoming an American citizen in 1955, five years after his wife, Alma, he carefully retained his Britishness. Even in the warm sunshine of Southern California he always turned up for work in an immaculately tailored dark suit, and his wardrobe held dozens of them, all identical except for their varying waistbands.Read more »

Why Do We Say...?

Pork Barrel

A “Call it Pork or Necessity, but Alaska Comes Out Far Above the Rest in Spending.” This headline—from The New York Times—was for a story about the $388 billion federal Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2005. “Consolidated” is an apt word for this annual exercise: The act is nearly 1,700 pages long or, looking at it another way, more than a foot thick. Buried within it are thousands of local projects for which funds have been specially set aside. In official congressional parlance, grants of this sort are called “earmarks.” Most people call them pork .Read more »

“Don’t Be A Show Off”

The book that taught GI’s how to behave in England

There were three deadly serious crimes a serviceman could commit, said the United States Army Air Corps commander Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz; “Murder, rape, and interference with Anglo-American relations. The first two might conceivably be pardoned, but the third one, never.” Seemingly Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed. When he learned that two different-nationality officers of his integrated staff had exchanged harsh words, he sent the American one home.

Pop Goes The Nation

“The founding of the United States experience: 1763-1815”

The Founding of the United States Experience (Presidio Press, 64 pages, $50) earns the slightly unwieldy last word in its title, because digging into this handsome volume creates an experience much like rooting through a treasure-filled attic. Read more »

Resources

The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association is the world’s largest club devoted to the hobby; members benefit from a bimonthly newsletter, an annual convention, and regional meets (ALPCA, Inc., 508 Coastal Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451; www.alpca.org ). Great plates abound on the Internet. Start at www.alpca.org, click on “Gallery” for select examples and on “Links” for the best hobbyist sites. Skip books that spotlight clever vanity plates, and opt instead for informative volumes. James K.Read more »

The Buyable Past

The License Plate

 

Before back-seat video screens, countless children amused themselves on road trips by looking at license plates, thrilled to spot their initials, birthdates, or examples from distant states. Thousands of adult collectors share that enthusiasm.

Antique plates promote their states’ agricultural products, distinctive contours, or mineral wealth (the Arizona plate is made of copper).
 
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The Trial Of General Homma

Was he the Beast of Bataan, or was his true war crime defeating Douglas MacArthur? A troubling look at the problems of military justice

On the morning of December 16, 1945, Lt. Robert Pelz steeled himself to meet a monster. A young Army lawyer not long out of Columbia Law School, Pelz was stationed in Manila, where he had been assigned to work on the trial of the most notorious Japanese war criminal of them all: Masaharu Homma, the general who had handed America a staggering military defeat—the surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on the Philippine island of Luzon.Read more »

The Quietest War

We’ve kept Fallujah, but have we lost our souls?

The war in Iraq has been going on for three and a half years now. That’s about the same amount of time America spent fighting World War II. This seems almost impossible considering how firmly the Second World War is embedded in our collective memory. We have even come to think of an entire generation—The Greatest Generation—in terms of that struggle. Cliché or not, we can still see the sharp cut of their uniforms, and those sharp 1940s civvies, the way they wore their hair back then, the America they lived in.Read more »