Magazine | September 30, 2019, Issue



Literary Frontiers 

Sarah Schutte’s spirited defense of Louisa May Alcott (“A Woman for All Ages,” September 9) reminded me of another underappreciated American novelist who could do with more reading. At the age of eight, Ralph Owen Moody’s tubercular father, looking for a drier climate, moved his family from New Hampshire to a small plot of land in Colorado. The autobiographical novel Little Britches, told through Ralph’s childhood eyes but in his adult voice, is a touching memoir that reads like fiction but is a true story of the American West. Mother read many of his novels to us children, and when I in turn began to read them to my two boys, I was struck by how much of the humble philosophical views of Ralph’s father have stayed with me through the years. New to my adult understanding was the irony between the child’s adoration of the father and the later author’s understanding of his weaknesses, which I hope you will further explore by giving the author the read he deserves.

Dan Martin
Via email 

Wake Island Superheroes 

Thank you to David French for highlighting Wake Island, along with the Alamo, in “Superhero Movies” (September 9). The Battle of Wake Island, the Alamo of the Pacific, is mostly overlooked today — though it was rightly celebrated after the outbreak of World War II, for Americans’ repulsing and then delaying of the Japanese. My father fought on Wake Island, and he and his fellow defenders were the superheroes of their day.

Richard Nonn
Northridge, Calif.

Kate Smith Canceled 

Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America,” as John Podhoretz notes (“Irving Berlin,” September 9). But nobody sang it like Kate Smith, a special inspiration during World War II. No matter. Kate Smith has been smeared as racist because she sang a ditty in 1931 that is now seen as racist, a ditty sung also by Paul Robeson. Her statue in Philadelphia has been removed, and the New York Yankees no longer play her “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium. A sorrowful commentary on today’s America. 

Donald Nawi
Scarsdale, N.Y. 

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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