A Patriotic Perspective on Your Own American History

Do you realize…

…that if you were twenty-four in 1970, you would have been born in 1946, and if you met someone who was seventy-one, that person would have been born in 1899, which would have seemed as long ago to you as 1946 does to a twenty-four-year-old today who meets someone whose seventy-first birthday is in the very near future?

Do you realize…

…that to someone born in 1986, the 1980s seem like the 1940s do to someone born in 1946, who thinks of the 1980s as just yesterday, who doesn’t…


Donald Trump finished college almost 50 years ago, on the cusp of the Counterculture. So did I. We didn’t learn much about girls.

Self-immolation was a popular activity in the mid-1960s for Buddhist priests in Vietnam. Not to be outdone, Concordiensis, the student newspaper of Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., ran a photograph, on Nov. 12, 1965, of a campus cop standing dutifully in his brass-buttoned coat while a pyre of flaming timbers consumed him. It looked that way, anyhow. Decades before fake news, Photoshop and the Drudge Report, Concordy manipulated reality with the best of them.

America was so…


Digital Diagnosis in Overdrive

Barry Newman | Longreads | August 2016 | 11 minutes (2,698 words)

My headache arrived just after April Fools’ Day, moving into orbit around my right eye, with side trips to the back of my neck. It was mild as headaches go, but persistent, there at bedtime, still there when I woke up. The previous autumn I’d had a cataract replaced by a wafer of plastic. Now I was in the eye surgeon’s exam chair for my six-month follow-up; this headache was three-weeks old.

Since the operation, I told the surgeon, my eyes seemed to be working to form a…


Writing about people nobody wants to write about

The Anticelebrity Profile

If Lady Gaga, Scarlett Johansson, and Prince Charles called and asked me to write their life stories, I’d beg off, even though life stories are the most engaging stories to write. Starting out, I flirted with the near-to-famous: Pete Sheehy, the New York Yankees locker room attendant (I saw Yogi Berra naked, but was too nervous to ask him a question); Bob Drumheller, a set-decorator buying books with “Death” in the title for Annie Hall (Woody Allen was clothed, but I didn’t speak to him, either). In New Delhi, I was waiting to board a direct flight to Bhopal and…

Barry Newman

Author of “News to Me,” a book of his feature stories, with essays on how he got them, as a reporter and foreign correspondent at The Wall Street Journal

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