D.G. Martin

Worrying About Trump

What did Hillary Clinton tell Donald Trump when he invited her to his wedding? She said, “I will come to the wedding if you promise to run for president.” This joke from Winston-Salem’s Steve Porter made me laugh, and it reminded me that we owe Donald Trump a thank you. Why? He has got us interested in politics again. His presence on the political scene requires us to think seriously about what qualities we most want in our country’s president and those we most want our president not to have. For me, I want a president who is calm,...

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Summer’s Final Reading Assignments

A classic love story full of mountain music from one of North Carolina’s greatest living balladeers, a loving portrait of a North Carolina beach by a modern prophet of coastal catastrophe, a fictional look into the recent past in small eastern North Carolina towns, and a novel that explains an old marker in a Beaufort graveyard. These are the latest and the final summer reading assignments (I mean suggestions) for your vacation reading. Madison County’s Sheila Kay Adams is a living legend among the fans of the music of the Appalachian mountains. Thanks to Doug Orr’s and Fiona Ritchie’s...

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Hero on the Wrong Side of History

Can Atticus Finch still be our hero? After Harper Lee, who created the saintly Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” has now given disturbing details about him in her newly released book, “Go Set a Watchman”? We learned through the eyes of Jean Louise, his adoring eight-year-old daughter called Scout in “Mockingbird,” how Atticus stood up to most of his small Alabama town’s white community and earned the devotion of the blacks by vigorously, but unsuccessfully, defending an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. Almost 20 years later, shortly after the 1954 Brown v. Board decision,...

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Finding Food and Human Fellowship at the Haymont Grill

What is more important than politics and books? These two are often the topics of my weekly column, but many things are more important. Including food, and the human fellowship that accompanies it. These two topics will be central to this column. Earlier this year I wrote about my search for old-time, locally owned, restaurants that are community gathering places, ones that are close enough to the big highways for travelers to find them and, rather than loading up with franchise fast foods, have a meal with the locals. These thoughts are connected to the new book I am...

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Trump and Buncombe

Would North Carolinians ever vote to elect Donald Trump or somebody like him? We did once. When we did, we proved that North Carolinians, like voters across America, can be attracted to tough-talking candidates who challenge the establishment, bark out simple solutions to the most complicated problems, inexplicably advocate programs far out of the mainstream, and generally be totally full of bunkum. This North Carolinian “out-Trumped” Donald Trump and was so full of bunkum that it was part of his nickname, “Buncombe Bob.” U.S. Senator Robert Rice Reynolds came from Buncombe County. An earlier legislator from that county talked...

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Major Golsteyn and General Noriega: In Headlines and Vacation Books

Headline news stories in recent few days reported the U.S. Army’s disciplining of Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who was once seen as a hero for his service with the Special Forces in Afghanistan. Golsteyn was accused of killing an Afghani bomb-making suspect and forced out of the army. Another news story reported that the 81-year-old former dictator of Panama, Manuel Antonio Noriega, remains in prison in Panama. These stories are closely related to two of the four books I am recommending for your summer reading. The first is written by North Carolina’s Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata. Tata is a...

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The Biggest News For Me

The biggest news for me this year? Not ISIS, not Obamacare, not gay marriage, and not even the earth-shaking tragedy in Charleston. This year’s big news is that there are no more peaches at the Auman farm in West End near Pinehurst. Along with thousands of other North Carolinians, including the late UNC president William Friday, I had a summer ritual of traveling to the Aumans to buy fresh peaches. My connection, though, has been more than peaches. Watts Auman, the farm’s operator, and his brother Bob were my friends at Davidson College during the late 1950s and early...

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Memories on the Fault Lines of Race

Two people who wanted to be something else have grabbed our attention recently: Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president in Spokane, Wash., and Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion. Dolezal, who grew up white, wanted to be black. She took every step she could think of to be a black person. Though her parents are white, she grew up with black siblings. She married a black man and has black, or mixed-race, children. She attended the historically black Howard University. Later, she worked enthusiastically and effectively to improve the lives of black people. Bruce Jenner,...

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Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

“I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism.” These are the opening lines of retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger’s book, “Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.” Bolger teaches military history at N.C. State. “No U.S. general has criticized the Iraq and Afghanistan wars more sharply” than Bolger, wrote reviewer Carter Malkasian in “The Washington Post.” Continuing the shocking opening words of his book, Bolger writes, “It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem....

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A Test on Noted North Carolina Authors

Let’s see how well you are keeping up with recent books by North Carolina authors. See how many new books and authors you can identify from the following clues. Two “non-poetry” books by a former North Carolina poet laureate. A memoir of growing up in the changing South by the author of a best-selling book set in Tuscany, a book that made her famous. A compelling set of heart-wrenching stories about the heart, by an N. C. State professor, who writes about science as well as anyone in the country. A short book by North Carolina’s best political and...

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