Magazine August 27, 2018, Issue

Missing the Missive

Private McGrath’s letter (Andrew Caroll/Center for American War Letters at Chapman University)
In praise of a dying art

A history of America told without letters would be like a history of photography told without photographs. But by 1990, letter writing, like the Soviet regime, was in decline. In the decades that followed, a technological revolution immersed my generation, Millennials, in everything from emails and emojis to Snapchat and selfie sticks. A poll conducted in 2017 by Census Wide found that around 40 percent of us have never sent a handwritten letter.

Marvelous and life-enhancing as the new inventions are, it’s fair to call the demise of the written letter a tragedy. “The art of letter writing is sadly decayed,”

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