Monthly Archives: October 2014

Living Old Age Institutionalized (It Could Easily Be Worse)

Published and archived on History News Network ( on October 10, 2014. Approximately 2633 words.

Even though knowing I would eventually be aging, I paid little attention and made few preparations. “It’s just another annoyance,” said I. That was true as I hit 70. Still true at 80. I did notice 85 but did little. Oh, visits to a cardiologist reminded one that time was passing, and so were the trips to the hospital blood people to get my cholesterol numbers. That pacemaker couldn’t be ignored.

The decline and passing of one extremely close to me, a few years back, was a trumpet call that my own aging was something of a signal. Sure enough: with my dear wife declining in a nursing home I decided with ice on every path to my doors it was time to be “institutionalized.” It wasn’t long—a few short months–before I began to get educated on all kinds of subjects new to me. Continue reading Living Old Age Institutionalized (It Could Easily Be Worse)

The United States in 1960

The text in this publication is identical to that prepublished on the Internet site HISTORY NEWS NETWORK on July 21, 2008 with permission of the author and through arrangement with its editor, Rick Shenkman, Ph.D. Approximately 7489 words.

Readers will want to keep in mind that this narrative description was written for encyclopedia publication as 1960 was about to fade into 1961. The text has not been modified in facts, wording, or indeed anything except a few commas and several paragraph modifications.

The wording of the following essay is precisely that placed in the mail on December 30, 1960. It was written for the New International Year Book for 1961. Although I was duly paid for this after working hours effort, the manuscript was returned to me, for there was a dispute between the publishers and the writer over the paragraphs dealing with Fidel Castro’s degree of attachment to Communism, for example, “…the Castro regime…turned to the Communist Bloc for military and economic aid and for ideological comfort.” That sentiment may have been regarded by the encyclopedia’s final review persons as conjectural, or too pessimistic, as unsuitable for their audience, likely to provoke overseas readers or, perhaps they thought me downright wrong. As for me, then a confident administrative editor who read Cold War material almost daily as a RAND Corporation staff member, my assessment of Castro’s movement toward the Third International seemed fully warranted and not to be edited out. In addition, after looking at the unsigned and much shorter version ultimately run by the yearbook, I think there may have been in house editorial decisions of which I—not an employee–was not made aware at the time. Continue reading The United States in 1960

Republican, Democrat, or Independent: Which Choice for Me?

Published and archived on History News Network ( on April 11, 2010. Approximately 6976 words.

Dear Granddaughter Susan:

You have asked me in your e-mail letter about Republicans and Democrats. You want to know some differences. Specifically, what kind of person would be likely to feel comfortable after choosing to be a Republican or a Democrat? Answering this flattering inquiry is supposed to be easy for me, since I have written steadily about American politics for some sixty years and more. But all is not quite what it seems in the highly controversial area of American political parties. Caution is in order. It is not hard to find guideposts through the decades and generations, but there have been variations and peculiarities. I have decided that simplicity is best, so that is what you’ll get—so far as I am able to simplify with accuracy. You will get some history of how the parties developed; there will be brief mention of major party leaders; finally, I will venture some advice about what people in your situation may want to do. Continue reading Republican, Democrat, or Independent: Which Choice for Me?

Dedicating a History Book– A Time for Euphoria

Published and archived on History News Network ( on March 27, 2013. Approximately 1974 words.

Let’s fantasize for a moment. That book draft, the one calling on you to sacrifice so much, is on the verge of being finished. Hooray! But wait: shouldn’t there be a dedication—to somebody or something? Researching and writing it was a highly personal act; nobody would blame you if you think, “The act of creation is mine—all mine.” The moment is one for euphoria!Every author owes a debt to somebody…. If you believe the final product turned out, well, brilliantly, maybe it’s Dedication time. Continue reading Dedicating a History Book– A Time for Euphoria

How Race Relations Touched Me During a Lifetime

Published and archived on History News Network ( on September 3, 2007. Approximately 6704 words.

This is a particularly personal essay about American race relations as I witnessed them during my very long lifetime. In a challenging book, the president of Spelman College in Atlanta says the time has come to talk about race. I would like that; however, nearly final drafts of this article have had hard sledding from a handful of carefully chosen editors. Apparently I can talk about race, as Beverly Daniel Tatum urges in Can We talk about Race? (Beacon Press, 2007), but it may be that few are much interested these days in reading about race. Continue reading How Race Relations Touched Me During a Lifetime