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Last Will and Sacrament

PHOENIX, ARIZONA. I don’t think that many reviews have yet appeared, but John Lukacs has just published another memoir, titled Last Rites. Patrick Allitt has an appreciative, but not uncritical, review (subscribers only) in the latest American Conservative. He is right that this volume is not, for a variety of reasons, as “scintillating” as Lukacs’s Confessions of an Original Sinner (1990). But then, Confessions truly is scintillating. It’s one of the finest American memoirs of the twentieth century. What makes it so fine is that it is not simply American. It is also deeply Pennsylvanian. In a state blessed with many more great quarterbacks than great writers, the Hungarian-born, British-educated Lukacs can lay claim to have evoked the character of the southeastern corner of the state as well as anyone ever has. (In this respect, add to Lukacs’s Pennsylvania oeuvre his Philadelphia: Patricians and Philistines and certain sections of A Thread of Years, one of the most memorable books I have ever read.)

A Republic of Front Porches

ALEXANDRIA, VA. Names are important, and few can be more significant than what a new publication calls itself. Perhaps at first greeting the...

Death of a Farmer

He traveled the three miles to the mill 63 times during the 87th harvest of his life, his old International pulling the wagon my uncle filled with beans or corn. I don't know why he counted the trips; perhaps it helped pass the time and focus his wavering mind on something other than the pain. He said to my father that he wanted to bring in one last crop. He almost did, clearing the beans but only getting halfway through the corn before he swallowed hard and told my uncle that they had better hire another man.

Write Home

BURNED-OVER DISTRICT, NY. Via the University Bookman, herewith my introduction to its recent special issue on Regionalism, which featured contributions from Frank Bryan, Kate...

Farm Stories: Hog Killing

Let this day begin again the change of hogs into people, not the other way around, for today we celebrate again our lives' wedding...

The Populist Farmer, Revisited

Via John Schwenkler, I see that Norman Borlaug has just celebrated his 95th birthday. Borlaug, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is one...

Crunchy Pope, Part 1: Body, Earth and Cosmos

Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. Pope Benedict has recently gained a bit of credit with world media for emphasizing the urgency of addressing the environmental...

Oiko-Systems

Alexandria, VA. For many years now, "environmentalists" have sought to thwart the extension of forms of commerce and economic development that prove destructive of...

The Greatest Forgotten Player

PHOENIX, ARIZONA. Today is opening day, and how sweet it is. But nine days from now comes the most annoying day on the Major...

To Hell with Earth Day; Long Live Arbor Day!

Once upon a time in America, schoolchildren celebrated a lovely little holiday called Arbor Day. The young scholars would sing songs about Johnny Appleseed, recite Joyce Kilmer into the ground, learn the difference between an oak and a maple, and bundle up against the spring chill to go outside and plant an actual tree.