Lately, I have been reading the slave narratives compiled by workers of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration(WPA) during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
If anyone is interested and has a kindle, you can download these books for free from Amazon.
After I was half way finished with the first of these books, I had to put the book down. From what I read I came away with everything I had already read in history books and overheard from chatter from my grandparents and their friends when I lived with them on their large farm in Northern Virginia—things I could surmise by the slang blacks would commonly use, like, “Get your cotton-picking hands off me,” or “Your black ass is going to get sold down the river if you keep that shit up.”
Although no one ever told me that, I intuitively knew that this was about slavery.
But reading these narratives from the mouth of folks that were born into slavery, who saw, and experienced all kind of degradation, gave me real life chills about the bloody “whipping posts,” on most farms, and the sometime kindly masters or hateful mistresses; and always the sexual predators that could rape a slave at will, mean drunks that abused slaves just for the fun of it; endless dawn to dusk work in the blazing sun and the dreaded “nigger traders,” whose job was to seek out the best staves for the large plantations in the deep south, or the best mixed race young girls for the many brothels in New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina.
I read with great sorrow as one ex-slave recounted how his uncle came from working in the fields on day, only to find his wife and small child missing from his cabin.
They had been sold to the “nigger traders,” and shipped down the river. He never saw them again.
This was a horror show I could no longer watch. American slavery was horrible. Pure and simple. So, I put the book down.
What also I realized in a very real way was that American slavery was not a long time ago. This was not Pharaoh chasing after Moses across the desert some 4,000 years ago. When my mother was born, there were still thousands, if not millions, of ex-slaves in America; when I was born, there were still thousands left. In fact, it is the Baby Boomers that will be the last generation of Americans that will be born with ex-slaves walking the same streets as them.
So how long ago is that? Not long.
Herb Boyd’s book, featured in this issue, is about these ex-slaves. Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination speaks forcefully to the uphill struggle these black folks from the south faced.
I am not one to dwell in the past. Neworld Review is a testimony to that. I work hard each day to try as much as I can to bring Americans together, and create a better narrative. But I am no Pollyanna. I know that that horrible history has not been extricated from our collective inner being, and many more generations must come and go before we can become fully healed.
Recently, Herb Boyd was the guest of C-SPAN Book TV’s “In-Depth,” a three-hour, live and call-in, examination of a single author’s body of work. He graciously called out as many names during that time as possible because Boyd felt that it’s their spotlight too—their, of course, meaning the Black people who have been forgotten by history. He also used his new book’s photo leaf, containing many photos taken by Boyd himself, to call out the names of the living and the dead, honoring all who deserve to be listed and acknowledged.
Boyd’s tendency to roll-call serves him well here in this new book, using the subtitle and from-the-bottom-up historical approach made popular by white radical historian Howard Zinn. In this work of Black geographical genealogy as historical narrative, Boyd presents the names behind the often-invisible and unheralded work in creating and guiding a Black community. The book arrives on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the city’s July 1967 rebellion, one that ripped out its political and social core.
Detroit’s facts are as amazing as its legends. The city was “an important terminus” of the Underground Railroad, but also a place where, in 1934, a Black World War I veteran named James Victory was accused of white-woman rape. Because Detroit is legendary for its strong Black resistance, Victory won. It’s one of a hundred stories Boyd tells—of Mayor Coleman Young’s childhood working for a man named Ossian Sweet—who, gun in hand, successfully defended his home against white racists. Of Rev. Albert Cleage creating a Black Christian nationalism that weaved well into the religious fabric of a city that helped shape Detroit Red (Malcolm X) and kept Elijah Muhammad’s Lost-Found Nation of Islam. Of factory worker Louise Thomas, who Boyd describes as a Black "Rosie The Riveter" who fought for respect in 1942.
Boyd—who opens his journalism notebook, photo collection, music collection, and Black history library in the city’s honor—has written so many books in his nearly 80 years on Earth that he knows where to find and make the proper connections. For example, instead of having Black nationalism and integration-ism oppose each other, he takes great care, chapter after chapter, in showing how both operated in a town that was equally labor, civil rights and Black Power.
He uses the existing secondary-source literature, especially biographies, in ways that feel new here: Aretha Franklin, for example, talks about urban renewal, while the Communist autoworker and theoretician James Boggs shares almost equal space with the capitalist songwriter and producer Berry Gordy. Boyd performs a work of not just touring, but historical quilting, connecting the generations so more than 200 years of friction, sweat and steel can flow as well as possible.
There just seems to be something about this particular mixture of land and people that created Detroit’s Black resistance. (Is it that just over the river is Canada—the fact that freedom is constantly in sight, and there for all those who can fight their way across?) This eye-to-eye confrontation between Blacks and whites permeates Black Detroit.
Here’s one example: A Black man, Thomas Faulkner, was convicted in.....Read More
Existentialism has evolved from an intensely embattled philosophy of the middle 20th century to a cliché whose meaning has been hollowed out like democracy, truth, facts. When an Ayn Rander like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that North Korea poses an “existential threat,” does he really mean that it poses a threat to human existence—a dire threat, perhaps?
The American Scholar recently pointed out that the word existential has become so misused and overused that it has “begun to function as a sort of highbrow condiment of choice, the squirt of moutarde de Dijon that [has] spiced up the hotdog of banal observation.”
I have to confess that when I was a callow youth and Jean-Paul Sartre was in the limelight—protesting the war in Vietnam, showing solidarity with the youth uprisings of the 1960’s, advocating for Algerian independence—I called myself an existentialist before I clearly knew what that philosophical appellation meant. I would later find out that it was something more than wearing cool shades and smoking unfiltered cigarettes, and that it placed a heavy burden of responsibility on its adherents.
Readers couldn’t find a better introduction to the foundations of existentialism and its colorful advocates—particularly Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus—than the recently published At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by the British philosophy scholar, who also happens to be a very fine writer, Sarah Bakewell. Also published last year is the English edition of The Stranger, a graphic interpretation of Albert Camus’ masterpiece translated into English by Sandra Smith, who arguably rendered the best English translation of Camus’s book in her 2012 edition of the book which she perhaps more accurately titled The Outsider.
Though they started out as students of the German phenomenologist Edmund Husserl and later became acolytes of Martin Heidegger, the rock stars of modern existentialism—Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, along with Raymond Aron—sat in the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the Montparnasse in Paris near the turn of 1932-3 and, according to Bakewell, drank the house specialty, apricot cocktails, while plotting out the unleashing of a new philosophy on the unsuspecting yet perhaps yearning intellectual world.
God had died, and there needed to be a replacement.
Bakewell, who has also written about French Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne, says that Sartre “wrote about one big subject: what it means to be free,” and that although his thinking went through many permutations through his long writing career he maintained from the time of his break from Heidegger half a century before his own death in 1980 that philosophy must be an active, living thing and that the measure of any human is not in what one says but in what one does. This is why Sartre chose never to become an academic but rather to live his life as writer and activist.
Sartre, a compulsive writer who some said should have been reined in by more exacting editors, wrote his philosophical opus Being and Nothingness in 1943, but Bakewell argues that most coherent and important book explaining existentialism to the world is that of Sartre’s longtime cohort and lover Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, which was published in 1949 and became the foundational text for the women’s liberation movement.
Bakewell’s book is a kind of hybrid, at first delving deeply into the complexities of the phenomenological work of Husserl and Heidegger and their influences on the thinking of Sartre and Beauvoir (and other important players), but then evolving into fascinating life studies of the very public philosophers. What drew her as a teenager to existentialism and sustained her through many years of studying philosophy and finally writing this book is that they “asked big questions about human life, thrown into a world many other humans also trying to live.” And though the existentialist vogue has passed, she says, “some of those fashionable movements that knocked [it] out of the way [structuralism, deconstructionism, postmodernism] have aged badly themselves.”
And, paradoxically, while many key intellectuals identified with existentialism such as Camus, and later Iris Murdoch, would turn away from the fold....Read More
As paranoid as those first couple of meetings made me, it was those nights of sleeping with Lucy that convinced me that she needed me for more than just military advice. She clung to me so tightly, wrapping her little body all around me, as if she was afraid I was going to get up and leave.
I would lay quietly awake and stoke her head softly, not wanting to fall asleep, but wanting to continue to feel her warm body next to me. And her small body would often start shaking, and I could feel the warm tears through the darkness.
“What’s wrong, Lucy?” I once asked.
“Don’t ever leave me, Alexander,” she said in a quiet, low voice. She squeezed me tighter than ever before.
I said nothing. I just continued to gently stroke her head, to experience her. I pulled her even tighter in my arms. It seemed as if both of us were trying hard to sink our very selves into each other. I was thinking, why I would ever want to leave her? I was thinking that this is how humans survived all the wars, and big bombs, and bad weather, and scary nights, and diseases, and liars who claimed to know what God wanted from us, and the crazy, the power-hungry, the greedy.
I was just thinking, Father, why would I ever want to leave her? It all boiled down to a dark, quiet night, with two scared people clinging tightly to each other. Like I said to you before, I wasn’t no damn intellectual, but I did know that.
“You promise me. You promise.”
“Yes, Lucy, I promise.”
Needless to say, Father, I became very involved in “Commander” Lucy’s underground organization, but from a distance. It was clear that they were dedicated revolutionaries, and Lucy was one of leaders of the Brooklyn cell. They had one goal: to overthrow the government, pure and simple. Even though I was benefiting from the system because of my steady checks, I felt one with these young people.
What they needed from me was not some crazy bomb thrower, but a planner. I mean, what a bunch of jive-ass, half-stepping amateurs. They meant well all right, but the way they were going, all of them were either going to end up dead or in jail. And the last thing I wanted was for Lucy to end up dead, or in jail.
One thing I did know about the Clerics was that these guys were not some mealy-mouth sissies. They had returned to hanging years ago. Lucy said it was because hanging was an energy saver. They had also taken away all the guns, totally outlawing them. Lucy told me that you could get 20 to life for even being in possession of one, with no such thing as an appeal. Even the People’s Moral Force was not allowed to carry guns, just big clubs. Only a select group of plainclothes enforcers carried guns. So, how were these would-be revolutionaries going to overthrow the Clerics and restore democracy to America, when they didn’t know the first thing about military planning and had zero fire power. Over many years, I learned many have tried the old Gandhi method of passive resistance and non-violence. But President for Life Rev. Guess would have none of it.
Now, some wanted to do something even as dramatic as what happened on Oct, 3rd. But I could see that that was just talk. I could see that these folks couldn’t build a conventional bomb, much less the Bomb.
Others wanted to randomly stab people suspected of being caregivers. That asshole that first gave me a hard time was especially forceful in advocating this kind of action
I didn’t say anything at meetings. I just sat silently and listened, my head down, wondering why I was there and wishing that the meeting would end, as Lucy and her friends argued passionately over tactics.
More than once I wanted to get up and leave, to go back to Mother’s cozy, familiar apartment and have a bottle of good red wine, and spend my allotted three hours of electricity, quietly listening to my vinyl.
But I remembered my nights in that big bed with Lucy and remembered her warm tears, her great need, my promise never to leave her, her hot body. And the need I felt to be near her, to never leave her, overwhelmed my desire to betray her by just getting up and walking out of the meeting. So, I stayed and listened.
But enough was enough! After my fifth meeting, I told Lucy that I didn’t want to attend any more meetings. The five meetings I had attended did, however, create a plan of action in my head. Ideas were slowly forming in my head. I was thinking about things I had not thought about in years. This was the first real systematic thinking I had done in who knows how long.
“Lucy, they listen to you. They respect you. You’re their leader. I can see that. I can give you advice.”
I saw a funny look coming over her face.
“You don’t have to agree with anything I say. We can just talk. And you can take what you need and go back and tell them what they need to do. They don’t have to know it’s coming from me. Does that make sense to you?”
She thought for a moment, cocking her head to one....Read More
Nearly thirty years ago, toward the end of the 1980s, acclaimed American novelist William Styron (Sophie’s Choice, The Confessions of Nat Turner, and other books) wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times that he revised as an expanded article for Vanity Fair. Then it was published as a slim volume titled Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, and Styron’s smallest book became his biggest bestseller.
Even now, three decades later, Styron’s trailblazing account of his grim battle with clinical depression remains a milestone. When Darkness Visible first appeared, the confessional epoch of tell-all memoirs and the Age of Oprah’s “public sharing” were getting underway. However, there was something startling regarding Styron.
He was a high profile, bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author at the peak of his international fame and fortune (the film version of Sophie’s Choice sent his latter-day career into the stratosphere). And then there was this: William Styron, by all accounts, seemed to enjoy wealth, status, celebrity, critical respect, and much luck.
And yet, he boldly made clear in Darkness Visible how a crippling clinical depression (combined with his late-in-life decision to abandon roughly forty years of hefty, nightly, vigorous drinking) destabilized him for significant periods of time. Styron was hospitalized more than once for depression, and suffered the agonies of varied pill prescriptions that rarely produced anything other than side-effects so ruinous that he lost his ability to write, and even his capacity to read. Yet, he recovered -- that is, until other such episodes in his twilight years finally rendered him an invalid.
Daphne Merkin tells a somewhat similar yet distinctly different story. She, too, may give the appearance of good fortune and a privileged life. She’s the daughter of a wealthy Park Avenue couple whose philanthropy in New York City is well known. Educated at prestigious schools and for many years a staff writer at The New Yorker, Merkin also published a distinguished first novel (Enchantment). Her essays and features in The New York Times Magazine (and elsewhere) always evoke interest.
Nonetheless, the bulk of Daphne Merkin’s life has been not just burdened but downright plagued by a relentless species of depression that is constant and omnipresent in ways that remind us that Styron’s troubles were, indeed, episodic.
In This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression, all of Daphne Merkin’s power as a writer is on display. This is that rare and wondrous type of book that lends itself to being read in varied ways. A straight-through linear reading is always an option. But you can also let this memoir open to whatever page it happens to reveal, and chances are Merkin’s insights, memories, and anecdotes will instantly engage you.
For example, the Prologue begins with this arresting paragraph: “Lately I’ve been thinking about the allure of suicide again – the way it says basta! to life, like an Italian grandmother sweeping out all the accumulated debris of daily existence, leaving a clean and unmarked surface. No more rage at the circumstances that have brought you down. No more dread. No more going from day to day in a state of suspended animation, feeling tired around the eyes—behind them, too—and making conversation, hoping no one can tell what’s going on inside. No more anguish, that roaring pain inside your head that feels physical but has no somatic correlation that can be addressed and treated with a Band-Aid or ointment or cast. Most of all, no more disguise, no more need to wear a mask . . .”
And that’s just for openers! This entire book is replete with such superb writing. Any respected writers’ workshop could invest an hour in assessing that opening paragraph: the allusion to suicide that hits like a hammer; the vivid image of that raging Italian granny; the deft repetition of “No more” again and again; and so on.
Well, the following 285 pages are no less impressive – and no less telling.
The 37 chapters of Daphne Merkin’s memoir offer a literary texture that rivals the best prose fiction of Saul Bellow or Joan Didion. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that in This Close to Happy, the dramatis personae of the author’s life easily equals the....Read More
As a small-time business owner in Billing, Montana, a company that sold school supplies to school districts in North Dakota and Montana, my father was a Republican who believed in free enterprise. He believed it provided people with opportunities to create their own businesses and that they should be able to profit from their initiative.
But, my father, who died in 1968, didn’t know how capitalism would evolve in the late 20th Century, what with the rise of multinational corporations, who would move much of their manufacturing overseas, where the cost of labor was much less than it was in the United States. He thought anti-trust laws would prevent companies from growing too large.
He didn’t know that the wealth generated by the people who owned the means of production in this country, people like the Koch Brothers, from Wichita, Kansas, whose fortunes were made originally in the oil and coal industries, would so sky-rocket that they would be able to circumvent any laws that held them in check and would be able to influence American politics to put the candidates that supported their libertarian policies in office. He would have probably grieved had he known the direction taken in this country to eradicate actual democracy.
Jane Mayer has an impressive resumé as an investigative journalist. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three previous, critically-acclaimed books: Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988 (with Doyle McManus), Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas (with Jill Abramson), and The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.
In March of 2010 The New Yorker published an article written by her, entitled “Covert Operations—the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.” The story reveals in depth for the first time how the publicity-shy Koch brothers had stealthily leveraged their vast fortune to exert outsized influence over American politics. It also showed that their environmental and safety record was woefully at odds with their burnished public images as selfless philanthropists.
And, now, with the publication of Dark Money, she has written a indictment of the Koch Brothers and their use of their enormous wealth to manipulate American politics, by making candidates seem much more virtuous than they in fact are. According to The New York Times, “it is not easy to uncover the inner workings of an essentially secretive political establishment,” but this something Ms. Mayer has done.
The Koch brothers are four—Charles, David, Freddie and Bill. Their fortune began from their father Fred, Sr.’s invention of an improved process for the extraction of....Read More
Alex paced around her hotel room adjusting the outfit laid out for tomorrow on the other double-bed, straightening the remotes, applying her lipstick, taking it off, and applying it again. She had only just begun to wear lipstick now, at 32, and wasn’t sure if she liked it. Lipstick made her noticeable in a way she’d tried to avoid most of her life. The shade, Petal, was close enough to her lips for “CasualDayWear” the gold-eye-shadowed, purple-lipped girl at Sephora had promised. She said it like that, too, as a single word. An industry phrase, Alex supposed. When she came home from the store, her boyfriend said it made her look “Luscious,” and then they’d had sex. She sucked on that memory in moments like this when she felt anxious and unsure about the boldness of her lips.
But was luscious what one wanted for a casual drink with the wife of a man with whom one had had an affair? No, it wasn’t. So back to the bathroom Alex went and Petal was off with a few swipes of a tissue. She considered her face in the mirror, as one might a sold-on-the-side-of-the-road iPad, for flaws. Now, without the lipstick, there was a faint pink line around the edge of her lips that made it look like she’d been gnawing on a lollipop. She scrubbed at it more with the clean side of the tissue, though in the magnified mirror she could see she just made it worse. The tissue went in the little garbage bin; the lipstick back on. It doesn’t mean anything, she thought. This doesn’t matter.
Thinking back, Alex couldn’t remember the last time she had seen Evelyn before bumping into her in the hotel lobby this afternoon. Not since she’d left her ex-husband, of course, so more than three years ago. Back home her apartment was in the next town over from where Evelyn and her husband lived, and she managed to never run into them at Target or Dunkin Donuts. Only here, in D.C., her luck turned to shit. Alex wasn’t worried Evelyn knew about the affair. A dramatic daytime television-style confrontation complete with thrown apple martini would not await her in the too trendy blue-lit bar downstairs. No, she was quite sure Evelyn did not know, and this bothered her more.
Once, after sex—a bit of bungle on his living room couch one afternoon—she had asked Evelyn’s husband if he would feel bad about this one day and tell his wife.
“This?”He was taking the trashcan out from under the kitchen sink to empty the garbage. An odd post-coital choice, considering they hadn’t used a condom. “No, things like this don’t bother me.”
She knew he had not meant it unkindly but was also sure he just called her—called them—a thing. A thing that couldn’t bother him, or that he couldn’t be bothered with, each option an equal exasperation. If anything she suspected he was trying to reassure her that she was safe with him. That this was something they could keep up for years if they wanted without either of their spouses finding out. Kisses and gropes out of sight at parties, drunk on the smell of him, could continue to string her excitement along for as long as she wanted to keep this up. But the sex, which they only ever had twice, proved disappointing and made her remember that she didn’t much like the guy, if she was being honest. So she asked him if he’d tell his wife because she did feel bad and she wanted him to share her shame. He didn’t, obviously. This affair was as routine to him as trash collection.
There was little worry that Evelyn knew: the only real worry was why Alex was doing this. Why had she proposed the drink in the first place?
She had turned around from checking in and there Evelyn was, standing just a few feet away when their eyes locked. And, once that happened, they had to dance through all the adult pleasantries of Hellos and Oh, really?s and How’s work/husband/pets/so-and-so? and the fake laughs and lippy-smiles women used to shield their personalities from the world.
They breezed their way through that part until it was acceptable to part ways with affectionate promises to Catch Up. But then, Alex faltered and blurted, “We should grab a drink later!” thus fucking up the negotiated and agreed upon choreography for how this was supposed ....Read More
Heaven: seven Jewish women, all mothers of famous men, drift languidly with our recently-departed narrator through the celestial rooms up above, here noshing a bit or indulging in a feast, there playing music or games or just lounging. Their main occupation in the afterlife is dissecting the lives and works of their illustrious sons: Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Proust, Albert Cohen, Romain Gary, the Marx brothers, and Woody Allen. And dealing with their Jewish mother guilt. Did they do a good job raising their kids? Must they take responsibility for their sons’ failures as well as successes, glaring faults, even suicides?
Our guide, Rebecca, a mere 38 years old, has perished in a car accident, leaving behind a teenage son. She’s eager to learn the secrets of success from these older women. Ought she to feel guilty about her maternal lapses? Must she worry, as they do, about her son for all eternity? She pokes and prods them into divulging secrets, pulling the curtain back on the inner lives of these men. To be certain, the women are a bit touchy at times; she must take care to flatter them and praise their sons’ achievements while tamping down their rampant competitiveness, as she tries to fit into their inner circle.
Most of the women freely admit to being overbearing, overindulgent, overly involved in their sons’ affairs. Fortunately for Rebecca and the reader, she is a professor of French literature and well versed on each of the men, familiar both with their biographies and their literary careers. The mothers fill her in on love affairs, personality quirks, family secrets. They never stop talking about how they funneled all their desires, ambitions, love into their boys. They derived meaning and channeled their own ambitions vicariously, many constrained by the mores of the day. A woman could be a mother and be acclaimed; not so easy to stand on her own and accomplish great works.
The author David-Weill is in real life a PhD in French literature residing in Belgium, and it shows. In conversation with the mothers, Rebecca, a stand-in for the author, reveals an encyclopedic knowledge of the sons and their literary or cinematic works, providing a biographical gloss for the readers. The end result depends on the reader. For American audiences who have probably never heard of the writers Albert Cohen or Romain Gary, learning more biographical details about them is probably not an urgent matter on the agenda.
Why did the author choose these men over others? For one thing, they wrote about their mothers (see Book of My Mother by Albert Cohen) or commented on their power as Freud did here: “A man who has been his mother’s indisputable favorite never loses that feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.” Freud explains his mother’s doting on him to the exclusion of his siblings: “A mother finds true satisfaction only in her relationship with her son, on whom she can transfer her own suppressed ambitions.”
What the David-Weill excels at is reanimating these Jewish mothers with all their touchiness and quirkiness, and imagining them interacting with each other, examining and justifying their rationales for raising their sons as they did. Each mother without exception never wavers in the conviction that her son is a genius and destined for greatness. More to the point: none of them regrets creating a chokehold on their child and ruining him for normal interactions with a life partner. Not one of them entertained the notion of creating a life of her own with something other than her son as a focus. Over and over we learn of dysfunction, of hypochondria, of depression. Yet, look at the results!
So that is the premise of this slim volume—dead Jewish mothers obsessively reviewing the lives of their sons and questioning if they should have done something differently. David-Weill does an....Read More
The writers of this sometimes-interesting book sets the stage exactly right in the very first paragraph: “Some may question the wisdom of creating a vacation guide to the planets,” Koski and Grcevich write, “when human feet haven’t touched the ground of another world (the moon) since 1972. If you’re thinking that a space vacation is a distant fantasy, however, remember that one hundred years ago, airplanes were a cutting-edge technology. The fast ones could travel at the “great speed” of 120 miles an hour, bringing a prospective space traveler to Neptune in 2,571 years. In 1989, the Voyager 2 spacecraft reached Neptune in less than twelve years traveling at 42,000 miles per hour. One hundred years from now, who knows how long a trip to Neptune might take?
“Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves first, humans will go to places we describe in this book someday, almost without question.”
The authors then take us on a journey to all the planets in the solar system and point out in the three rocky planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars, where we have already sent probes to map the terrain—all of the natural features for the vacationer. To be frank, I found little on these planets of interest. Just a lot of bad weather. My great interest in Mars, besides perhaps viewing Mount Olympus, the tallest extinct volcano in the solar system, is, did life on Earth begin on Mars? We now know with certainty that Mars once had an atmosphere and vast oceans of water, but did it also have life? And did chunks of Mars, break of and find its way to our oceans? It certainly did in my novella, A History of the 21st Century.
It is when we get to the gas giants, with the granddaddy of....Read More
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