D.G. Martin

One on One: The Great American Read

Could a North Carolina novel be the country’s best-loved? “The Great American Read,” a PBS series, is in the process of selecting America’s best-loved novel. Is there a chance it could be a North Carolina book? Maybe. “The Great American Read” is an eight-part broadcast series. The opening broadcast in May revealed 100 novels that are in contention for selection as America’s best-loved. The series resumes on Tuesday, September 11, and will air each week until October 23 — when the final selection will be announced. These programs will, according to PBS, investigate “how and why writers create their...

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Two Hard-Earned Reputations-Unnecessarily at Risk

Most of this column is going to be copied from another writer. He knew how to say what I want to tell you much better than I could ever do. While I am at it, let me confess that most of what I write for you each week comes from material other people have written or told me. So very little is really original. I try to give credit where credit is due, but I am not sure I always get it right. NPR summarizes the general rule as follows: “Attribute, attribute and attribute some more. No material from...

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One on One: Dick Spangler, Goodbye and Thank You

Dick Spangler, who died last week, changed my life dramatically and forever. That makes it hard to write an objective and proper tribute to the Charlotte business leader and former president of the University of North Carolina System. First of all, he would not have liked the use of the word “system.” He would not have said, “Don’t use that word.” Instead, he would have squinted, looked down over his glasses and said something like, “Are you sure that’s a word you want to use?” That “system” word is now an official part of the institution’s name. But, for...

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One on One: Missing Bert Bennett

In 1965, Terry Sanford left the governor’s office and moved down Fayetteville Street from the Capitol into law offices in the BB&T Building. Political insiders started referring to that structure as the Bert Bennett and Terry Building. When Bert Bennett died last week in Winston-Salem at 97, old timers remembered how his vigorous, organized, and decisive leadership in the gubernatorial campaigns of Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt was crucial to the success those men achieved. Ironically, Bennett’s death came only a few days after the passing of Tom Ellis, the key advisor and organizer for the late Senator Jesse...

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One on One: What Would be in a Putin-Trump Contract?

When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki this week, it might have been useful if they had had a written contract to reference their previous understandings. No such written contract exists, but if it did, it might read like this imaginary July 2016 letter from Putin to Trump: In consideration of mutual objectives and the actions set forth below, we agree to work with you during the pending election and afterwards to make the world better by fostering improved relationships between our countries, each of us undertaking the following: We will influence the election in your favor...

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One on One: Trump’s 2016 Win Good for Democrats This Year?

I thought I was so smart back in 2016 when I wrote that Democrats, who were confident they would defeat Donald Trump, should be pulling for him to win. A Trump win, I explained, could be a good thing. Not for the country perhaps, but for the future of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama’s win in 2008 elated Democrats, but it hurt them in elections later on. So, I opined, a 2016 Trump victory would hurt Republicans in future elections. Obama’s 2008 victory seemed to be the prelude to a long period of Democratic dominance and control of the...

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One on One: Let Us Break Bread Together

What is the worst thing that has happened to us in the last few weeks? Our state legislature’s final week of secrecy and surprises? North Korea’s reported resumption of processing of nuclear fuel, a violation of President Trump’s understanding that North Korea’s nuclear threat has been eliminated? Trump’s break with our NATO and G7 allies and his blossoming friendship and upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin, perhaps establishing with Putin in a new “G2” alliance to stand together against the U.S.’s former allies?  No, not any of these. Such things I have come to expect. They are a part of...

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One on One: Winston-Salem and Nigeria in the 1950s

Was there a connection between the 1950s Nigerian movement for independence and the civil rights movement in Winston-Salem? Elaine Neil Orr’s new novel, “Swimming Between Worlds,” is based on this premise. The N.C. State professor grew up as a child of American missionaries in Nigeria. Her experiences gave a beautiful and true spirit to her first novel, “A Different Sun,” about pre-Civil War Southern missionaries going to Black Africa to save souls. Instead of slaveholding Southerners preaching to Nigerian blacks, the new book contrasts the cultural segregation of 1950s Winston-Salem with that in Nigeria. Although Nigerians were coming to a successful...

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One on One: Normandy, France and Anthony Bourdain

When I was in France last week, Anthony Bourdain — also in France working on his popular and influential food and culture program for CNN — took his life. Bourdain was in one of his favorite regions, Alsace, which was controlled by Germany for 50 years until the end of World War I. I was on the other side of the country in Normandy, which was controlled by the English off and on for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages. Both regions have much to brag about. Normandy’s iconic Mont Saint Michel, for instance, rises out of the...

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One on One: Carolina Quotes From a Book You Ought to Own

Here is a present for you from a column several years ago — a few quotes about North Carolina. From the journal of Frances Anne Kemble, traveling through the state in 1838: “North Carolina is, I believe, the poorest state in the Union: the part of it though which we traveled should seem to indicate as much … The few detached houses on the road were mean and beggarly in their appearance, and the people whom we saw when the coach stopped had a squalid, and at the same time fierce air, which at once bore witness to the...

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