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In a divine irony, both John Adams (1735-1826) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826. Read Orrin's reviews of American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1997)(Pauline Maier) (Grade: B-) and American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (1996)(Joseph J. Ellis) (Grade: A-)

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought over several days, including July 4th, 1863. Read Orrin's review ofThe Killer Angels (1974)(Michael Shaara 1929-1988) (Grade: A+)


Lionel Trilling (1905-75) was born in New York, NY on July 4, 1905.


Independence Day


Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), was born in Salem, MA on July 4, 1804. His Scarlet Letter (1848) is one of the first American classics.

Stephen Foster (1826-1864) was born in Lawrenceville, PA on July 4, 1826.


Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), the 30th President of the United States (1923-1929), was born in Plymouth, VT on July 4, 1872. He understood, perhaps better than any other President of this century, that the best thing the government can do is stay out of the way of the citizenry.


John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) the great American portrait painter, was born in Boston, MA on July 3, 1738


M. F. K. Fisher (1908-)  was born in Albion, MI on July 3, 1908.


Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary [now in the Czech Republic] on July 3, 1883.  Read Orrin's review of  The Metamorphosis; and other stories  (1915) (Grade: C+)


Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was born on July 2, 1877, in the town of Calw, Switzerland.  See Orrin's review of  The Journey to the East (1956)   (Grade: C)


Thurgood Marshall   (1908-93) , was born in Baltimore, MD on July 2, 1908.  One of the great legal advocates in US History, his most important case was Brown v. Board of Ed.  He later served a well earned retirement on the Supreme Court.


Richard Petty , the unchallenged King of stockcar racing, was born on July 2, 1937.


James M. Cain (1892-1977) was born in Annapolis, MD on July 1, 1892.  One of the creators of the hard-boiled noir genre, his best works are The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)  & Double Indemnity


John Gay (1685-1732) was born in Devon, ENG on June 30, 1685. Read Orrin's review of The Beggar's Opera (1728) (Grade: A)


Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900-1944) was born in Lyon, France on June 29, 1900. Read Orrin's review of The Little Prince (1943)(Grade: A-)


John Toland (1912-) was born in LaCrosse, WI on June 29, 1912. In addition to his Pulitzer Prize winning The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, Brothers Judd recommends his novel The Gods of War.


Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) was born in Agrigento, Sicily on June 28, 1867. Read Orrin's review of Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)(Grade: C+)


Mark Helprin (1947-) one of our greatest current novelists was born on June 28, 1947. In addition to his recommended novels Winter's Tale (1983), A Soldier of the Great War (1991) and Memoir from Antproof Case (1995), he wrote Bob Dole's elegant Senate resignation speech in 1996 and is a regular columnist for Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.


Eric Ambler (1909-1998), who helped create the Modern spy novel, was born in London on June 28, 1909. Among his many recommended books are Background to Danger, and A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939)


Henry VIII (1491-1547), king of England (1509-47) and one of the key, albeit unintentional, figures in the rise of Western democracy, was born on June 28, 1509. We recommend the novel The Autobiography of Henry VIII : With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George.


Bob Keeshan (1927-) was born in Lynbrook, NY on June 27, 1927. After creating & playing Clarabell on the Howdy Doody Show (1947-52), he went out on his own and created the beloved Captain Kangaroo (CBS, 1958-85).


Alice McDermott (1953-) was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 27, 1953. Read Orrin's review of Charming Billy (1998)(Grade: C-)


Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), who won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Hillsboro, WV on June 26, 1892. We all read her Pulitzer Prize winner The Good Earth in school.


George (Eric Arthur Blair) Orwell (1903-1950) was born in Motohari, India on June 25, 1903. Read Orrin's reviews of Homage to Catalonia (1938) (Grade: A), Animal Farm (1946) (Grade: A+), 1984 (1949) (Grade: A+)


Nicholas Mosley (1923-) was born in London, ENG on June 25, 1923. Son of Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascists in the 1930's, he became an outstanding novelist. Read Orrin's review of his Whitbred Prize winning Hopeful Monsters (1990) (Grade: A)


Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) was born on June 24, 1842 in Meigs, OH. Read Orrin's review of Civil War Stories (Grade: B)


Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) was born in Osnabruck, GER on June 22, 1898. Read Orrin's review of All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) (Grade: C)


H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was born in Norfolk, England on June 22, 1856. His book King Solomon's Mine (1885) is one of the great adventure classics of all time.


Billy Wilder (1906-) was born in Sucha, Austria on June 22, 1906. Among his classic films are The Major and the Minor, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Stalag 17, Five Graves to Cairo and Sunset Boulevard


Octavia Butler (1947-) was born in Pasadena, CA on June 22, 1947. Read Orrin's review of Kindred (1979) (Grade: A)


Dom Casmurro (1899)(Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis 1839-1908)

was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 21, 1839


Annette Curtis Klause (1953-) was born in Bristol, ENG on June 20, 1953. Read Orrin's review of Blood and Chocolate (1997)(Grade: A to F)


Henry Louis "Lou" Gehrig (1903-1941) was born on June 19, 1903.


Tobias Wolff (1945-) was born in Birmingham, AL on June 19, 1945. His excellent memoir, This Boy's Life (1989), describes growing up in Washington State with a brutal step-father.


John Wesley (1703-91), founder of the Methodist Church, was born in Epworth, England on June 17, 1703. He and his band of friends were derided at Oxford for their "methodism", methodical study of the Bible. After a conversion experience in 1738, he preached a message of salvation through faith in Christ alone.


John Hersey (1914-93) was born in China on June 17, 1914. Read Orrin's reviews of A Bell for Adano (1944)(Grade: B+) and Hiroshima (1946) (Grade: B)


James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), who wrote the Black National Anthem--Lift Every Voice and Sing, was born in Jacksonville, FL on June 17, 1871. Read Orrin's review of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) (Grade: B+)


At 2:30am on the morning of June 17, 1972, five men were caught breaking in to Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate Building. Read Orrin's reviews of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (1991)(Len Colodny, Robert Gettlin) (Grade: C+) and Leon Jaworski's The Right and the Power (Grade: C), but also try G. Gordon Liddy's Will and All the President's Men


June 16th is Bloomsday. Joyce fans all over the world commemorate the mindnumbing meanderings of Leopold Bloom through the streets of Dublin in 1904 (read Orrin's review of Ulysses, Grade: F x Googleplex) But save yourself the trouble & read Ulysses for Dummies.


Katharine Graham (1917-2001) was born in New York, NY on June 16, 1917. Read Orrin's review of Personal History (1997) (Katharine Graham 1917-2001)


The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215 by King John of England the agreement between John and several dozen English Barons that took away the King's total authority, and granted basic rights and liberties such as freedom of the church, no imprisonment without a jury trial, and the proper execution of the laws of the land.


Jerzy Kosinski (1933-91) was born in Lodz, POL on June 14, 1933. Read Orrin's review of The Painted Bird (1965)


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Dublin, IR on June 13, 1865. His poem The Second Coming seemingly predicted the course of the pre-Reagan 20th Century.