James Earl Ray assassinated the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. Gerald Posner disproves all of the ridiculous conspiracy theories surrounding the killing in his excellent book Killing the Dream(Read Orrin's review, Grade: B)
Maya Angelou (1928-) was born in St. Louis, MO on April 4, 1928. Read Orrin's review of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)(Grade: B)
Muddy Waters [McKinley Morganfield](1915-) was born in Rolling Fork, MS on April 4, 1915.
Everett Hale (1822-1909) was born in Boston, MA on April 3, 1822. Read Orrin's review of The Man Without a Country (1863) (Edward Everett Hale 1822-1909) (Grade: A+)
Ma Rainey [Gertrude Pridgett](1886-1939), "The Mother of the Blues", was born in Columbus, GA on April 3, 1888.
Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born in New York, NY on April 3, 1783. Read Orrin's review of Tales of the Alhambra (Grade: A)
The great folklorist Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark on April 2, 1805
Emile Zola (1840-) was born in Paris, FR on April 2, 1840. Brothers Judd recommends his novel Germinal (1885)
Whittaker Chambers (1901-61) was born Jay Vivian Chambers in Philadelphia, PA
on April 1, 1901. His long strange journey [brilliantly told in Sam Tanenhaus' prize winning Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (Read Orrin's review, Grade: A)] stands as an allegory of 20th Century man and his own memoir, Witness (1952) (read Orrin's review, Grade : A+), is one of the great books of this or any century. See also Orrin's review of Ghosts on the Roof: Selected Journalism of Whittaker Chambers 1931-1959 (1989) (Whittaker Chambers 1901-61)(edited by Terry Teachout) (Grade: A)
Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) was born in Marseille, FR on April 1, 1868. Read Orrin's review of Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)(Edmond Rostand 1868-1918) (Grade: A+)
Milan Kundera (1929-) was born in Brno, CZ on April 1, 1929. Brothers Judd recommends The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984).
Toshiro Mifune (1920-97) was born in Tsingtao, China on April 1, 1920. As John Wayne was to John Ford, so was Mifune to Akira Kurosawa. Brothers Judd recommends their collaborations: Rashomon (1950), The Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958) and Yojimbo (1961). Mifune also starred in an excellent series of films based on the life of Musashi Miyamoto [see Orrin's review of A Book of Five Rings (1645)(Miyamoto Musashi 1584-1645) (Grade: C+)]
Ted Post (1918-) was born in Brooklyn, NY on March 31, 1918. Brothers Judd recommends Hang 'em High (1967) (directed by Ted Post 1918-)
Edward FitzGerald (1809-83) was born on March 31, 1809. Read Orrin's review of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859)(Grade: C)
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-52) was born on March 31, 1809. Read Orrin's review of Taras Bulba (1839)(Grade: A+)
John Fowles (1926-) was born on March 31, 1926. Read Orrin's review of The Magus (1965)(Grade: C)(#93 on the Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century)
Al Gore (1948-) was born on March 31, 1948. Read Orrin's review of Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (1992)(Grade: F)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was forced, by popular demand, to bring Sherlock Holmes back to life on March 31, 1905. Read Orrin's review of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901)(Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930) (Grade: A+) Holmes has been revived again in Laurie R. King's acclaimed series of novels; read Orrin's review of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) (Grade: C)
Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands on March 30, 1853.
Anna Sewell (1820-78) was born in Yarmouth, ENG on March 30, 1820. Read Orrin's review of Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse (1877)(Grade: B-)
Denton True "Cy" Young (1867-1955) was born on March 29, 1867 in Gilmore, Ohio. For all the "unbreakable" records we've seen go down, let's see someone get to 511 victories.
John Tyler (1790-1862) was born in Charles City County, Va., on March 29, 1790.
Albert von Tilzer was born in Indianapolis, IN on March 29, 1872 . He composed the tune for the song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," in 1908.
Exley (1929-92) was born on March 28, 1929. Brothers Judd recommends A Fan's Notes (1968)
Nelson Algren (1909-81) was born in Detroit, MI on March 28, 1909. Read Orrin's review of The
Man with the Golden Arm (1949) (Grade: C)
Russell Banks (1940-) was born in Newton, MA on March 27, 1940. Read Orrin's review of Affliction (1989) (Grade: B-)
Bob Woodward (1943-) was born in Geneva, IL on March 26, 1943. Read Orrin's reviews of The Agenda : Inside the Clinton White House (1994) (Grade: B) and Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom (2000) (Grade: B)
John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969) commited suicide on March 26, 1969. Read Orrin's review of A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)(Grade: B-)
Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born on March 26, 1874.
A.E. Housman (1859-1936) was born in Worcestershire, England on March 26, 1859. Read Orrin's review of A Shropshire Lad (1896)(Grade: B)
Aretha Franklin (1942-) was born in Memphis, TN on March 25, 1942.
Flannery O'Connor (1925-68) was born in Savannah, GA on March 25, 1925. Read Orrin's reviews of Wise Blood (1952)(Grade: A+) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960) (Grade: B-)
William Morris (1834-96) was born in Walthamstow, ENG on March 24, 1834. Read Orrin's review of The Wood Beyond the World (1895) (Grade: B+)
Akira Kurosawa (1910-99) was born in Tokyo on March 23, 1910. Among his achievements are The Seven Samurai (1954), Ran
(1985), Rashomon (1951) and The Hidden Fortress (1958)(basis for Star Wars).
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry (1736-1799) gave his most famous speech: "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.".
Louis [Dearborn LaMoore] L'Amour (1908-88) was born in Jamestown, ND on March 22, 1908
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born in Eisenach, GER on March 21, 1685. Brothers Judd recommends virtually everything he ever wrote, but particularly the Brandenburg
Ovid (43-17 BC) was born at Sulmo, Italy on March 20, 43 BC. Brothers Judd recommends his Metamorphoses.
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was born in Skien, Norway on March 20, 1828. Read Orrin's review of Peer Gynt (1867)(Henrik Ibsen 1828-1906)(Grade: C+)
Fred Rogers (1928-) was was born in Latrobe, PA on March 20, 1928. He, of course, created Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
Lois Lowry (1937-) was born in Honolulu, HI on March 20, 1937. Read Orrin's review of The Giver (1993) (Lois Lowry 1937-)
Ornette Coleman (1930) was born in Fort Worth, TX on March 19, 1930. The great music writer Robert Palmer profiled him in this piece Ornette Coleman and the Circle with a Hole in the Middle (Robert Palmer, December 1972, Atlantic Monthly).
Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) first Christian to sneak into Mecca & translator of the
Arabian Nights, was born in Devonshire, England, on March 19, 1821. Read Orrin's review of To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)(Philip Jose Farmer) (Grade: B+)
Philip Roth (1933-) was born in Newark, NJ on March 19, 1933. Read Orrin's review of American Pastoral (1997)(Philip Roth 1933-) (Grade: B+)
John Updike (1932-) was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1932. Read Orrin's review of Rabbit, Run (1960)(Grade: C)
William Gibson (1948-) was born in Conway, SC on March 17, 1948. Read Orrin's review of Neuromancer(1984) (Grade: C+)
Penelope Lively (1933-) was born in Cairo, Egypt on March 17, 1933. Read Orrin's review of her Booker Prize Winner, Moon Tiger (1987)(Grade: B-)
St. Patrick died on March 17, 493 A.D. Visit The Irish in America at PBS
March 17th, 1919 is the birthday of Nat "King" Cole (1919-1965). Although best remembered today as a pop singer from the 50's and 60's, he was, in fact, an influential jazz pianist (and later vocalist). In addition to recording with his own trio...consisting of piano, guitar and bass... which was unique in its time for not having a drummer, he also recorded with such jazz greats as Lester Young, Buddy Rich and Dexter Gordon. In the mid-50's, Cole became the first African American to have his own network TV show (on NBC), which was groundbreaking for the number of black artists who appeared as guests and for the frequent pairing of Cole with white singers and musicians. Despite good ratings, the show was cancelled after one season, leading Cole to crack "Madison Avenue must be scared of the dark." Check out "The Lester Young Trio"; and "The After Midnight Session"
James Madison, author of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States, was born in King George County, Virginia, on March 16, 1751.
March 16th is the birthday of the late, great jazz pianist, Tommy Flanagan (1930-2001). Born in Detroit, Tommy started playing professionally at 15 with other Motor City teenage stars-to-be such as Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones and Kenny Burrell. By the mid-50's he was considered one of the leading bebop pianists, a position he enjoyed for the rest of his life. In the late 50's, he played on 2 of the most influential and popular albums of all time: Sonny Rollins's "Saxophone Colossus" and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Tommy was Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist and music director for many years, but spent the 80's and 90's as a headliner with his own trio (often with some combination of George Mraz or Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash or Kenny Washington on drums). His melodically sophisticated, swinging style is well-represented on his 1997 album "Sea Changes."
On March 15, 44 BC Julius Caesar forgot to "Beware the Ides of March" and was assassinated. Read Orrin's review of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (1599)(William Shakespeare 1564-1616) (Grade: A+)
Baseball became a professional sport on March 15, 1869. The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first pro team.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was born in Waxhaw, SC on March 15, 1767. Read Orrin's review of The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory (1999)(Robert V. Remini 1921-) (Grade: B+)
Sylvester (Sly) Stone (1944-) was born on March 15, 1944. Brothers Judd recommends Anthology by Sly and the Family Stone.
John Steinbeck's (1902-1968) great novel The
Grapes of Wrath was published on March 14, 1939. Read Orrin's review
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879.