Martha Hodes *91
The president literally stopped the show when he walked into Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary, had arrived late to that night’s performance; the comedy Our American Cousin already had begun. As they took their seats in the dress circle, the actors onstage paused and the audience cheered. Lincoln bowed. Around 10:15 p.m., as Lincoln laughed at a line in the play, John Wilkes Booth shot him in the back of the head. The next morning, Lincoln was dead.
The nation’s seemingly universal reaction to the first presidential assassination is well documented in contemporary newspapers, in the formal expressions of condolences that followed, and in memoirs published in later decades. In Mourning Lincoln, Martha Hodes *91 asks: What were the “raw reactions” of people on the street, with their families, and by themselves when they heard the news? Some felt that “North and South are weeping together” but others thought the news was “glorious,” Hodes writes. She also explores how the aftermath of the assassination ultimately shaped the legacy of the Civil War. Continue reading
Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 (U.S. Senate portrait)
Shortly after midnight on Monday, Texas senator TED CRUZ ’92 announced on Twitter that he is running for president in 2016. He delivered a formal speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. on Monday and is the first candidate to officially enter the race. In an op-ed for CNN, professor of history and public affairs JULIAN ZELIZER analyzed Cruz’s chances by comparing his campaign to that of Barry Goldwater, the Republican senator from Arizona who ran against Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Johnson became president after defeating Goldwater, whose extremism “scared off” voters in solidly Republican states and helped Johnson win a landslide victory. MARC FISHER ’80 of The Washington Post also wrote about Cruz in a feature story that includes a look at the candidate’s Princeton years.
Creative writing professor CHANG-RAE LEE spoke at the annual Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, where he discussed his latest novel, On Such a Full Sea, with Edward Wong of the New York Times’ Sinosphere Blog. Lee answers questions about the dystopian nature of the novel, which is set in a future where Baltimore has become B-Mor, a city of transplanted Chinese laborers; his research trip to a factory in Shenzhen, China; and the roles that environmental issues and immigration play in his narrative. Continue reading
John Hopkins ’60
It is 1961, and John Hopkins ’60 and Joe McPhillips ’58 have just returned from Peru. After responding to the letter of a fellow Ivy Club alumnus who has invited those traveling to Kenya to stay with him, Hopkins and McPhillips decide to board a ship to Naples and from there travel through Europe to Africa. In Munich, they buy a white BMW motorcycle they christen “The White Nile” for the African river they will follow during their journey. Hopkins’ The White Nile Diaries retraces the two friends’ long ago adventures and offers a glimpse into a time when Africa was a tantalizing adventure for some young men.
The book intersperses accounts of the pair’s sojourns in each country with letters from their host in Kenya. Along the way, Hopkins and McPhillips are set upon by a group of armed men seeking revenge for violence in Tunisia and are shot at by Libyan soldiers as they try to slip unnoticed across the border with their undocumented motorcycle. They experience the 120-degree dry heat of the Sahara, the inside of a jail cell in Libya, and the wonders of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Like a North American Che Guevara and Alberto Granado, Hopkins and McPhillips travel 6,000 miles and arrive at Impala Farm, which turns out to be very different from what they expected. Continue reading
Rep. Terri Sewell ’86, third from right, took part in the March 7 Selma commemoration with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In a piece for the Washington Post, style writer Krissah Thompson followed Rep. TERRI SEWELL ’86, D-Ala., to her hometown of Selma. Sewell and her family and friends reflected on the city’s historic significance and the way Selma has faltered in the years since Sewell graduated as a debate champion from the city’s fully integrated public high school — now effectively resegregated and without the celebrated debate team. “We need to live Selma and know that the assaults of the past are here again,” Sewell said during an address delivered at Selma’s Brown Chapel A.M.E. “Old battles are here again.”
Author PETER HESSLER ’92 wrote in The New Yorker about his experience traveling on a publicity tour in Beijing with the Chinese censor of his books. The story goes on to consider more broadly his experience as an American author writing about China, and the role of his Chinese translators — whose censorship, he says, is a sort of “defensive” censorship intended to circumvent entirely any negative attention from officials. Of recent articles that are critical of American writers who accept manuscript changes so that they can publish in China, Hessler writes, “The articles tend to take a narrowly Western perspective. … This was one reason I went on the tour — I figured that the best way to understand censorship is to spend a week with your censor.”
For 15 years, Sepp Blatter has been president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. Now, as FIFA’s reputation continues to spiral downward, Blatter faces a number of potential challengers in the next election. One of them is Prince ALI BIN AL HUSSEIN ’99 of Jordan. In an interview with The New York Times, Prince Ali called for more transparency, more collaborative decision-making, and more financial accountability to FIFA’s member nations. Continue reading
Danny Gregory ’82
Who has time for art these days? “You don’t have a second to catch your breath. To smell the roses or the coffee. Your life is getting more and more full and crazy,” Danny Gregory ’82 writes in Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are. Gregory believes that art can make people “saner and happier,” and help them be present and really see the beautiful things they already have. He offers pages filled with striking illustrations, accompanied by instructions for drawing activities that readers can do in a few minutes every day.
Readers learn how to make “art with a small ‘a’,” starting on the first day by drawing the contours of their breakfast. Next, Gregory encourages them to draw their medicine cabinets, their reflections in the coffee pot, their napping children, passing strangers, and animals in a zoo. There are activities to do during traffic jams, at the doctor’s office, and with groups of friends. Ultimately, Gregory writes, “Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling.” Continue reading
Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)
Dean of the College VALERIE SMITH was named the 15th president of Swarthmore College on Feb. 21. She will be Swarthmore’s first African American president, as well as its second female president. At Princeton, Smith was also the founding director of the Center for American Studies and is currently the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and a professor of English and African American Studies. She will begin her duties at Swarthmore on July 1. In a Philadephia Inquirer interview, Gil Kemp, chair of Swarthmore’s board of trustees, said of Smith, “I think this is a marvelous fit … Her awareness of our distinctive competence, focus on academic rigor, commitment to the common good — it’s a marvelous confluence.”
In an op-ed for CNN.com, New America Foundation Strategist and Senior Fellow PETER W. SINGER ’97 writes about the rise of the robot in modern warfare. As robots become increasingly more automated, he explains, debates over their place in battle have become more complicated. He concludes, however, that “one thing is clear: Like the present, the future of war will be robotic.”
Former Tennessee senator BILL FRIST ’74 and former Georgia representative JIM MARSHALL ’72 penned a Washington Post op-ed about their suggested reforms to the Veterans Health Administration. Their piece coincided with the release of a report by the Fixing Veterans Health Care task force, of which Frist and Marshall are co-chairs. Continue reading