“Here’s a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal.”
Fifty years ago this summer, having prevailed in the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War on the island of Okinawa, U.S. forces were poised to invade Japan itself in a conflict that might have made Okinawa seem as sedate as an afternoon tea party. To avoid more carnage on both sides, President Truman made the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a decision which brought the most destructive war in the annals of human history to an end in August 1945. To those in the U.S. Armed Forces, like Navy radio operator Alexander Burnham, there could be no question about the Tightness of Truman’s action—then or now—and in his VQR essay, Mr. Burnham sets forth the reasons why Truman was right and today’s revisionist critics wrong.
Alexander Burnham has been a journalist for 40 years. He served as a staff reporter and editor with the New York Times, worked for the Associated Press, NBC News, and the Hartford Courant. He was also editor of the Washington Book Review and managing editor of the New York publisher, Dodd, Mead and Company. He now lives in Connecticut and is a freelance writer. He is also particularly proud of his son who last fall was elected state treasurer of Connecticut.
Bruce Fleming who teaches English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis is a former Fulbright professor at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Caging the Lion: Cross-Cultural Fictions, in which he discusses inter-cultural perceptions in literature, dance, and film. MR. Fleming first visited India in 1992 and was there on a second visit last fall.
Kelly Cherry’s 1993 VQR story “Not the Phil Donahue Show” was later named among the Best American Short Stories of that year. She is a poet as well as a short story writer and a member of the English faculty at the University of Wisconsin. Her latest collection of poems, God’s Loud Hand, was published by Louisiana in 1993.
Steven G. Kellman is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Texas in San Antonio and a film critic for The Texas Observer. His most recent book is The Plague: Fiction and Resistance published by Twayne. He also edited Perspectives on Raging Bull which was brought out by G.K. Hall.
A native New Yorker, Abe Kriegel has spent most of his professional career as a historian in the South. He is a professor of history at Memphis State University and a former department chairman. His academic specialty is the political culture of 19th century Britain, about which he has written in numerous journals, among them English Historical Review, The Journal of Modern History, and History Today. Mr. Kriegel is the editor of the Holland House Diaries, 1831-1840, has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and has received the Walter Love Prize in History of the Conference on British Studies. He is working on a study of the aristocratic ethic in 19th century Britain.
Making his debut as a VQR fiction writer, Peter Gordon has also published short stories in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Yale Review, Antioch Review, North American Review, and elswhere. He lives in Framingham, Massachusetts with his wife, Raquel and sons Daniel and Jonathan.
Harold McSween is the last surviving person to have met Earl Long in a head-to-head campaign (a Louisiana congressional primary in 1960 in which Long challenged Mr. McSween’s renomination as a Democratic candidate for Congress and won— but died a week later). Mr. McSween pays tribute to Long in an essay that marks the centennial of the firey Louisianan’s birth. Mr. McSween served two terms in Congress, 1959 through 1963. “I had observed
Earl Long’s rousing first campaign for governor in 1940 when a high school freshman,” he recalls, “never dreaming I would ever go up against him myself. It’s still frightening to think about this 35 years later. Writing about Mr. Earl comes easier than tangling with him. He can’t talk back, but is entitled to his due as one of the incomparables.”
A native of Georgia who attended Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, Frances Mayes now teaches at San Francisco State. She published a collection of essays this year with Chronicle Books and her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and The Women’s Review of Books.
Susan L. Davis lives, works, and writes in Slough House, California. She is also a teacher and sometimes paperboy. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, New Letters, CutBank, and Perspectives.
James Wood has recently published poems in The Colorado Review and The Massachusetts Review.
Alan Williamson teaches at the University of California at Davis and at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. These VQR poems are from a collection, Love and the Soul, forthcoming from the University of Chicago.
S. Ben-Tov’s first book of poems, During Ceasefire, was published by Harper and Row. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Paris Review, Harvard Magazine, and Parnassus. Her recent work is currently featured in The Missouri Review. Her manuscript-in-progress Time and Loss has received a $10,000 Major Grant from Bowling Green State University for the completion of historically-based poems set in Israel.
One of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century, Yannis Ritsos was born in 1909. He spent a number of years in prison at various times for his political views. His VQR poems are from a selection of his recent work entitled Late Into the Night: Last Poems, published by Field Editions (Oberlin). Martin McKinsey, the translator, is a poet who lives in Richmond and is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Virginia. He has spent a number of years in Greece.
An Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Gerald Weales is also a superannuated drama reviewer since Commonweal decided some years ago to drop the theatre column which he had been providing for 25 years. He also did reviews for The Reporter. He has written for the Sewanee Review and edited Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and The Crucible for Penguin. He is the author of Canned Goods as Caviar: American Film Comedy of the 1930s (Chicago).
David McNair received his M.F.A. degree from the University of Virginia where he held a Hoyns Fellowship. “Rats at the Dump” is Mr. McNair’s first published story. He has also lived and worked in Paris.
George Watson, who is a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, is the author of The Literary Critics, The Certainty of Literature, Writing a Thesis, and British Literature Since 1945. He is also a contributor to the Hudson Review.
Lewis Turco founded the Program in Writing Arts at the State University of New York at Oswego. The Program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1993. A critic whose Visions and Revisions of American Poetry won the Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America in 1986, Mr. Turco is a former writer-in-residence at Ashland University.
Darden Ashbury Pyron is a professor of history at Miami International University in Florida. He is the author of a highly lauded biography of Margaret Mitchell. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Virginia.
David Thatcher Gies is chairman of the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and Commonwealth Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia. His latest book The Theatre in Nineteenth Century Spain published by Cambridge was reviewed by Daniel S. Whitaker in the winter 1995 issue of VQR.
Sanford Pinsker is a professor of English at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania and a frequent contributor to this journal, The Georgia Review, and The Gettysburg Review.
David Lee Rubin is a professor of French at the University of Virginia, and editor of EMF: Studies in Early Modern France. He recently lectured on the strategies of literary translation at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and London. He also gave a lecture this spring on LaFon-taine at a conference sponsored by the New York Public Library.
Jack Fischel is chairman of the department of history at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania. He is co-editor of Jewish American History and Culture, an encyclopedia published in 1992 by Garland and co-editor of Holocaust Studies Annual of which five volumes have been published thus far.