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D.G. Martin

Remembering what we thought 15 years ago

Fifteen years ago, following September 11, 2001, I wrote the following: War. War. War. What is it about this word that excites us, that unifies us, that puts aside at least for a moment our selfish preoccupation with ourselves? The word brings with it a spirit of action that rises out of September 11’s time of despair, questionings, and anger. It rushes through my system like a miracle drug, wiping out my depression and lifting my spirits to new heights. A flag banner decorates our front porch.  My chest puffs out with pride as the Army calls my son...

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Local Eateries for Politicians and for us

It is here. Just in time for the election season, this new book can guide this fall’s political candidates to the North Carolina eateries where locals gather to eat and exchange information and viewpoints about public affairs. For instance, the book features a barbecue in Concord where Hillary Clinton campaigned in 2008, a downtown café in Kings Mountain where the speaker of the North Carolina House eats breakfast, a country buffet in Randolph County where a powerful state representative holds court on weekends surrounded by Richard Petty memorabilia, a famous barbecue in Gastonia where the parents of a top...

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Books for Trump and Clinton

Could reading a few North Carolina connected books help Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton be better candidates, campaigners, and debaters during the next couple of months? I think so. If Trump read UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Konrad Jarausch’s 800-page “Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century,” it would amaze us. First, we would not believe he had read such a long book. But then he would wow us with his newly attained broad background on a topic critical to American interests and responsibilities. “Out of Ashes” is indeed a very long book. But it is...

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The Minotaur and Today’s Politics

Do you think that the Greek legendary half-bull, half-man called the Minotaur could help us understand what is going on in American politics this year? In case you do not remember the Minotaur, he was the offspring of a queen of Crete, who, subject to a curse from a vengeful god, fell madly in love with her husband’s prize bull. The resulting offspring grew up to be a feared monster who devoured small children. More about the Minotaur in a minute. Meanwhile, others are trying to help us understand the Trump phenomenon and explain its success in securing so...

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Hard to Win After Beating the Party Establishment in the Primaries

Is Donald Trump really a unique political candidate? Did North Carolina ever have anybody in politics who compares with him? When I asked that question in a column last year, I suggested U.S. Senator Robert Reynolds “out-Trumped” Trump and was so full of bunkum that it was part of his nickname, “Buncombe Bob.”  Reynolds served in the Senate for 12 years beginning in 1933. He kept people all over the country entertained and shocked by planting a big kiss on Jean Harlow, the famous movie star, right on the Capitol steps; getting married five times; snubbing the King and...

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A Word to Make Trump Immortal

He has put his mark on buildings and businesses that might last a lifetime. But could he more effectively gain immortality by adding his name to the language? That is the way, for instance, that Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry did it 200 years ago. He signed a partisan redistricting plan in which one district looked like a salamander, and he gave his name to the despicable, but constitutional, tactic known as a gerrymandering. Of course, Donald Trump would rather his name be associated with some more positive or elegant term, say Napoleonic. He might settle, should he lead his...

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Chang and Eng: Chapter Two

Sometimes a simple newspaper column can take its writer to surprising places. For instance, after my column on the Siamese Twins was published last month, I got a call from Henry Bunker who lives in Mebane. His brother, Fred, read the column and passed it to Henry. “We’re descendants of the twins,” Henry said, “and if you’d like to learn more, you ought to come to the Bunker family’s reunion in Mount Airy on the last weekend in July. I can invite you.” I couldn’t resist. I still had lots of questions. The chance to be with hundreds of...

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Take a Break From Politics; Read Books

Do you need relief from two weeks of over-the-top contentious politics? Here are four books that could give both Trump and Clinton supporters a break from worrying about our political future. One is the paperback edition of a poignant memoir by one of North Carolina’s most important novelists. It hit bookstore shelves this week. Another book won a prestigious Agatha award for the first novel by a native North Carolinian. A third book profiles a bestselling and controversial Charlotte author and gives us a look back at life in the 1950s and 60s. And finally a respected writer turned-award-winning...

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Our two great Robert Morgans

North Carolinians of my generation have been blessed with two important Robert Morgans. One is the mountain-born-and-raised and acclaimed writer who is featured this week on North Carolina Bookwatch for his latest novel, “Chasing the North Star.” The other, the former U.S. senator, died on Saturday. My dream had been that author Morgan would write a book about Sen. Morgan. Author Morgan has shown he can write beautifully and authoritatively about historical figures.  Remember, for example, “Boone,” his wonderful biography of Daniel Boone, and “Lions of the West,” his collection of studies about Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny...

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Clinton needs Biden: So Do We

For her sake, and for ours, I hope Hillary Clinton asks Joe Biden to run for a third vice presidential term this fall. There are several important reasons; the most important one is at the end of this column. She needs help in dampening the appeal of Donald Trump to white workingmen in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Writing about a planned Clinton-Biden campaign trip into Pennsylvania last week, The New York Times correspondent Carl Hulse wrote, “Mrs. Clinton could not have picked a better traveling companion than Mr. Biden. A native son of Scranton, he...

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