That Was The Week That Was

Aside from recommending some Christmas shopping for history buffs (have you heard that I have a book coming out on Monday?), I took the week off from blogging to do some more work on the Lindbergh manuscript and enjoy a rare chance to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal myself.

Here’s some of what I was reading elsewhere:

• Before you leave Thanksgiving behind to start Christmas (yes, we put up our tree yesterday) read this reflection from my favorite historian of the Plymouth colony.

Branscombe, "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"
Jennie Augusta Branscombe, “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) – Wikimedia

• Here’s one way to visualize the death toll from COVID-19.

• In large part because the incompetent presidential response forced impossible decisions on local and state authorities, it’s getting harder to make sense of what stays open and what doesn’t during the pandemic.

• For example, it seems like college football is just making things worse, while it took a (limited) Supreme Court decision to address restrictions on in-person worship.

• Of course, that ruling doesn’t mean that it’s wise or responsible for churches to exercise their freedom to gather for worship, as everyone from Pope Francis to a Christian doctors’ group emphasized. (The Pope’s piece — a book preview in the New York Times — says a lot more than just that.)

• Amid the rest of the tumult, it’s been easy to forget that Joe Biden will be America’s first Catholic president since 1963. Which made Bob Smietana spend some time reporting on Biden’s favorite spiritual practice.

Licensed by Creative Commons (Ondřej Vaněček)

• “Recent advances in genetics provoke anxieties about a future where parents choose what kind of child to have, or not have,” wrote Sarah Zhang. “But that hypothetical future is already here. It’s been here for an entire generation.”

• Next week my Cold War students will look at what came after that conflict. Two possible readings from Foreign Policy: how Thomas Friedman’s observation about McDonald’s and war held up, and that time that Mikhail Gorbachev filmed a Pizza Hut commercial.

• Thanks to a new merger, a single company will now publish a third of all books. Which just makes me more grateful for the smaller firms I’ve worked with…

• If you want some more reading/shopping recommendations for the winter, try these book lists from John Wilson and Tommy Kidd.

Creative Commons (Michelle)

• Turns out there’s a reason that we all like Brussels sprouts more than we used to.

• I can’t say I’d ever want to make her Minnesota entry, but as a pie-maker myself, I’m dazzled by this baker’s attempt to come up with a recipe for every state.

• My home region “will be crucial to the success of any national climate change plan.”

• A Virginia highway that I’ve driven many times “reveals many insights about the history of how we build—and abandon—places.” (One more reminder that while the political commentary of The American Conservative has gone completely off the deep end this year, it still hosts interesting writing on other subjects.)

• And speaking of visited vacated places… Alissa Wilkinson stopped by some empty museums and was reminded of my favorite book from 4th grade.