Archive for John O’Donnell

Financial Panics

“On Monday, 21 October, as the President headed home with deliberate slowness, to avoid even sharper panic, rumors circulated that the Knickerbocker (Trust) had only ten million dollars left in cash. With sixty million loaned out, the trust might be unable to issue good checks past midday Tuesday…” (from Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, p 498). Think you are reading about President Bush and the Panic of 2008. Think again. This is a description of the Panic of 1907 and the President referred to was Teddy Roosevelt. the Panic was eerily reminiscent of 2008. The Panic was averted by an infusion of cash by the government and by J. P. Morgan similar to President Obama’s bailout!

A Call from Stalin

Boris Pasternak, author of the classic novel Doctor Zhivago, was the recipient of one of the most dreaded events in Soviet Russia. He was a friend of the poet Osip Mandelstam who was a thorn in the side of Stalin. Mandelstam had written the Stalin Epigram which was highly critical of the dictator. Pasternak received a late-night call from Comrade Stalin wanting to know about this poem of Mandelstam. Pasternak instead wanted to discuss matters of life and death with the dictator who quickly hung up on him. Mandelstam eventually went to the gulag and tragically died there. Stalin spared Pasternak, writing on his list: “Don’t touch this cloud-dweller.” Pasternak eventually won the Nobel Prize and outlived Stalin.

Morris the Magnificent

Edmund Morris, biographer extraordinaire and resident of Kent, Connecticut, has just published a book of essays which you will not want to miss. Morris is the author of the magisterial and definitive biography of Theodore Roosevelt ( The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Colonel Roosevelt). The new book, titled This Living Hand: And Other Essays, ranges widely over topics of interest to Morris and us. They include Beethoven, Mount Kilimanjaro and Britain’s Imperial War Museum to name only a few. Make sure to try Morris if you have not already done so.

Veterans Day

On Veterans Day please take some time to remember and honor the sacrifices the men and women who have served in our armed forces to protect our freedom and enable us to live the lives we live today. Here is the story of one man’s service in World War Two. His name is James Principi and he served on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid during the war. Here is his story. Visit the Military Museum of Southern New England right here in Danbury.

A Word or Two

This past summer saw Christopher Plummer appear in an acclaimed tour de force in Canada entitled A Word or Two. Mr. Plummer, who resides in Weston , Connecticut also finally won an Oscar for his superlative performance in Beginners. A Word or Two is a one man show about Plummer’s love of literature and how it has enhanced his acting career. “My parents were very well-read, and made literature quite an adventure for me…I think that’s the way all families should treat their youngsters, showing them what joys, what wonders literature can give us.”