Tag: The New Yorker

Clarence Darrow and Hawaii’s Massie Affair

A letter I wrote to The New Yorker about Hawaii’s infamous Massie Affair, a sordid episode in American race relations, was printed in the June 27, 2011, issue and is at the bottom of this page.

I wrote the letter because: (a) I had recently read three thought-provoking books about racism in America during the early years of the 20th century and (b) the magazine’s profile of Clarence Darrow overlooked an important and defining episode that checkered the man’s career.

The first book, The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War by James Bradley, deals with Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy Continue reading “Clarence Darrow and Hawaii’s Massie Affair”

George W. S. Trow (1943-2006)

Harvard shieldAlmost two months had passed by my Harvard freshman door. It was 1961, early November, and the air was crisp and blue-gray. I had moved into Pennypacker Hall from a smallish farm town 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the smartest of 900 kids graduating from a large public high school that had never sent a student to the Ivy League in its 64-year history. My admission, with headlines bolding its uniqueness, had blossomed on the front page of our daily newspaper the previous April. A month later there was a letter to the editor from a retiree in Arizona who peevishly and poignantly reset the record with his story of a 1933 admission to Yale that he had turned down due to lack of funds.

The first month at Harvard had been manageable, although I had previously read few things more dense than a textbook. The next couple of weeks crosscut my footing with assignments in Aristotle and Piaget, and I began to teeter. I anesthetized my anxiety about insufficient studying by playing contract bridge, and on this particular night I was trolling the halls, searching for a fourth. Continue reading “George W. S. Trow (1943-2006)”