In 2002 Henry Louis Gates jr. published The Bondwoman's Narrative. It was the first publication of a novel written in the 1850s by a former slave who wrote under the name Hannah Crafts. The original manuscript has been digitized by Yale's Beinecke Library. The book caused a splash at the time, sold well and was reviewed widely, including an essay by Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books. The identity of Hannah Crafts was uncertain, which cast a slight shadow on its provenance, but Prof. Gregg Hecimovich discovered the writer's true identity. Her name was Hannah Bond and after escaping slavery she became a teacher in New Jersey. Journalist Paul Berman further fills in the story of Colonel Wheeler, the slaveowner whose family was depicted in The Bondwoman's Narrative. Wheeler was the US ambassador to Nicaragua in the 1850s and played a major part in the administration of General Walker, the American who became a short-lived dictator of Nicaragua and tried to set it up as a slave state.
Copa América is streamed live on YouTube. Copa América is the oldest international football competition, having been held first in 1916. This is a contest between the 10 South American nations and two invitational teams, this time Costa Rica and Mexico, who both sent young squads (Japan was slated to take part but withdrew due to the earthquake). The tournament started yesterday with Bolivia unexpectedly managing to hold Argentina to a draw. Colombia are currently beating a 10-man Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil start their campaign tomorrow, against Venezuela. One of the world's premier football writers, Jonathan Wilson, wrote previews of the three groups, A, B and C. The Independent has more light-hearted team previews.
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
Border Stories is a series of short documentaries about life on the US-Mexican border, none longer than 6 minutes. The subjects are: drug addicts on the border (warning: graphic images), electronic music group Nortec Collective, hospital costs of fence jumpers, lonesome Minuteman, Mexican emigrant safety patrolman, ranchowners whose land is an immigration throughway, US-raised 18 year-old sent back to Mexico, virtual vigilantes, two old men provide water in the desert, dangers of journalism in Ciudad Juarez, graveyard of US tires in Mexico, drug ballads, hardened border policy hurts cross-border community, another cross-border community fears closing of footbridge, working illegally in Laredo, mayors of the two Laredos, migrants' safe house, hand-pulled ferry, dentistry in Nuevo Progreso, Brownsville high school teacher protests border fence, golf course with the border on three sides & fishermen on the mouth of the Rio Bravo. Border Stories also has a blog about immigration issues.