A bit of Christmas every day


Unpacking and cataloging books at the Josephy Library is a little bit like Christmas every day. I dig through boxes, looking for the most essential things to catalog (there are many boxes left to catalog, so someone has to prioritize!), schlep them to volunteer librarian Shannon Maslach at the bank, and she brings them back with neat little cards in them, or in nice folders that go in the new oak map case/file cabinet built for us by local cabinet maker Brian Oliver. 
James Michener WW II
This week it was a faded, torn covered copy of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Out of old library and bookstore days, I turned immediately to the copyright page, and sure enough it’s “New York. Macmillan, First Printing, 1947.” The book is in booksellers’ “fair” condition, I would say, but the on-line story is that a dust jacket in any shape at
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Alvin and Hollywood–what stuck!

My New Years Resolution is to be more consistent with blogs and make them shorter while ranging widely over Josephy material and Josephy interests. I want to do this without being “gee whiz, look what Alvin wrote/did/said/ this time!” But to soberly address narrative history, Western history, Indian history, environmental history—Alvin’s things and the things Alvin leads us to.

But this week his cousin sent me most of a manuscript dated 1952 for a proposed television program about the first man to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and I got an email from a grad student researching a WW II Marine named Peter Ortiz. Turns out there was a movie—“Operation Secret”—and, you got it; Alvin wrote the screen story….

Alvin came home from Iwo Jima to “sell the war.” The public was distressed that we’d lost 7,000 Marines taking a small bunch of rocks in the Pacific. Alvin, Indian flag raiser Ira Hayes, and a few others traveled the country

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Alvin at War

Alvin at war

Being a direct participant in World War II was a choice for Alvin Josephy—but not much of one. Born in 1915, he came of age in the depths of the Depression as fascist regimes were gaining power in Europe. He’d been involved with student groups and national politics—meetings and debates on Huey Long, socialism, communism, and the New Deal—while at Harvard, traveled to Mexico to interview Trotsky and President Cardenas in 1937, and was working as news director at WOR Radio in New York on the eve of Pearl Harbor.

Soon after Pearl Harbor Alvin headed to Washington D.C. and Archibald MacLeish’s Office of Facts and Figures—the government propaganda arm. It wasn’t close enough, and connections, contacts, and events soon had him at Perris Island Boot Camp, and then a Marine Corps combat correspondent in the Guadalcanal mop-up, and at the landings and occupations of Guam and Iwo Jima.

He waded ashore at Guam, talking into a

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