I’ve just listened to Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927.
Published 10 years ago, but timeless.
Indeed, the part about Charles Lindbergh becoming the most famous man in the world, attracting enormous adoring crowds, admiring Hitler and arguing against our trying to stop his conquest of Europe . . . may be even more relevant now.
But what a summer.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig!
America First rallies!
Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney!
The 5-million strong Ku Klux Klan!
Saco and Vanzetti!
The electric chair!
I pause here for a brief excerpt:
. . . Universal and Paramount were both dominated by German stars and directors. Universal was said, only half in jest, to have German as its official language.
A few European actors – Peter Lorre, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo – adjusted to, or even thrived in the new sound regime, but most actors with foreign accents found themselves unemployable. Jannings, winner of the first Academy Award for acting, returned to Europe and spent the war years making propaganda films for the Nazis. Behind the scenes Europeans still thrived, but on screen movies were now a thoroughly American product.
Though the significance of this wasn’t much noticed in America, globally the effect was profound. Moviegoers around the world suddenly found themselves exposed, often for the first time, to American voices, American vocabulary, American cadence and pronunciation and word order. Spanish conquistadors, Elizabethan courtiers, figures from the Bible were suddenly speaking in American voices – and not just occasionally but in film after film after film. The psychological effect of this, particularly on the young, can hardly be overstated. With American speech came American thoughts, American attitudes, American humor and sensibilities. Peacefully, by accident, and almost unnoticed, America had just taken over the world.
Henry Ford’s disaster in Brazil!
Herbert Hoover and “Silent Cal” Coolidge!
Sixty thousand involuntary sterilizations!
One of them performed on a white 6-month-old girl.
Another okayed by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.!
David Sarnoff commercializes radio!
Philo T. Farnsworth patents television!
Sarnoff steals it anyway! (The ParkerVision story?)
It’s hard to think of another book that’s as simultaneously entertaining and informative.
APE closed at $1.52 yesterday and its very slightly less valuable twin, AMC, at $5.43. It’s not certain when the two prices will converge, or where AMC will be trading when they do, but converge they almost surely will.
Quote of the Day
There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.~Calvin Coolidge
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