Sunday, August 2, 2020

Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World by Chris Wallace

Countdown 1945:  The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed The World by Chris Wallace, New York: Avid Reader Press, 2020.

This month, August 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  Scholars and moralists are still arguing about whether President Harry S. Truman made the right decision.  Chris Wallace pulls no punches in detailing what went on in the 116 days leading up to August 6, 1945, the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

There are three primary characters in Countdown 1945:

  President Harry S. Truman, who made the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

  J. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the Manhattan Project, America's secret program to develop an atomic bomb.

  Col. Paul W. Tibbets, who commanded the 509th Composite Group, the unit charged with developing a method to deliver an atomic bomb on either Germany or Japan.  Tibbets was the pilot of  the Enola Gay, the name of the B-29 superfortress that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

Throughout the book, Wallace paints human portraits of other members of the flight crew of the Enola Gay:  the copilot; Theodore Van Kirk,  the navigator; Jacob Besar, the radar countermeasures officer; and George Caron, tail gunner.

Wallace brilliantly includes several other characters in Countdown 1945 to enhance the human side of the story:

  Ruth Sisson, a cubicle operator of one of the 1152 calutrons at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Calutrons were machines used to enrich uranium.  Ruth's fiancĂ© was a medic in the U. S. Army; she was afraid he would not survive the war;

  Draper Kaufman, the leader of the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams.  Kaufman/s demolition teams were responsible for removing underwater obstacles, including mines, stakes and bombs, prior to the launching of amphibious beach assaults.

  Hideko Tamura,  a Japanese school child who returned to Hiroshima the day before the bomb was dropped.

Moi Recommends!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Defining Madeline Kripke: A Remembrance by Jerry Morris

Every now and then, while I'm on the web, I'll check the news just to see what's going on in the world. I yelled out a loud No when I read a New York Times article that Madeline Kripke died.

I never met Madeline.  But we corresponded on and off intermittently since 2004.  She had so many bookish treasures.  And she was a treasure herself.  A week's worth of email correspondence between Madeline and me in March 2018 will tell you a little bit of what she was all about.


                                                                        Mar 15, 2018 8:03 PM
Dear Madeline,

I hope you're doing well.

I'm writing a blog post this month that mentions the 1918 edition of Strunk's Elements of Style that you bought in 2003. Is it okay to mention that you were the buyer?

The post will be on My Sentimental Library blog this month. And the tentative title is "Another One That Got Away, One I Gave Away, and One That Headed My Way.; Or, the Adventures and Misadventures of Moibibliomaniac."

The first part pertains to the 1918 editions of Strunk's Elements of Style. Besides the copy you bought....

Jerry Morris

                                                                         Mar 15, 2018 11:22 PM
Dear Jerry,

It's good to hear from you.

I'd love to see the blog post when it's finished. What's the url (containing moibibliomaniac, I assume)?

Before I give you the OK ?I want to check my group of collected Elements. Tonight I was only able to pull three editions out of a book pile without upsetting it. I had hoped to verify for myself--and of course for you--what I have. I bought all the editions some years ago, and I've become more rigorous since then in assessing what I have.

Of the three books I pulled out, two were later editions and one was the 1918 Thrift Press. I doubt (somewhat) that I have the 1918 Privately Printed edition, which I would think is the true first. But I have galleys.

I'll have to pull out any other versions I have tomorrow, and I'll then check to see the imprint on the galleys. I'll email you again with the results of my search. I'm sorry to gum up the works, but I want to ensure the accuracy of any information about my holdings that will be widely available online.



                                                                     Mar 16, 2018 9:51 AM
Dear Madeline,

If you bought the copy of the 1918 edition I was referring to, you would have bought it from Bob Riedel, a bookseller from Rochester, New York. He bought it at a book fair in Rochester for $185 and listed it for $5,000. It was a proof copy with additions and corrections for the publication of the 1919 edition–and probably worth $5,000.

My post will appear on

Your Thrift Press edition is a circa 1940 edition. I expound upon the date in this blog post:

And here's my Elements of Style Collection.

Have to run for now. will be back online tonight.


                                                                         Mar 16, 2018 11:41 PM
Dear Jerry,

Of course you're right about both the Thrift Press edition and the Riedel proof copy I bought.

Incidently, Bob Riedel was an exceptionally lovely man. He died very young a few years ago as the result of a brain tumor. In his last days I met and talked with his mother, who accompanied him to a book show.

As for the books I wanted to uncover, I had a project going on today that took much more time than I'd anticipated; so I didn't get to the pile of books. I'll try to tackle the pile tomorrow.

That said, I haven't been actively collecting editions of Elements, so I don't expect there will be much in the pile, and I don't expect there will be any surprises.

I admire the vigor and the thoroughness of your literary sleuthing--as exmplified by your tracking down the informtion you were looking for about the Thrift Ptrss edition.

I'll let you know whatever I find, if anything, once I unearth the proofs.



                                                                          Mar 17, 2018 9:42 AM
Dear Madeline,

I've seen images of your rows and rows of books. And it might be dangerous moving them. Since you recall buying the 1918 proof copy from Bob Riedel, there's no need to locate it–unless you have another reason for finding it.

I know Bob Riedel listed the book for $5,000 but I don't know what you paid for it. So I can say, "Madeline Kripke, the Dictionary Lady, bought the proof copy for an undisclosed amount." Do you approve of that statement? I don't have to mention your name, but it does add credence to my retelling of the events.

I've already started writing my post, and I'll be publishing it this week.

Did you ever do any writing about the Merriam-Webster archive you bought? I wrote about their nemesis, Joseph E. Worcester. In fact I'm slowly cataloguing his library on Library Thing.


                                                                       Mar 17, 2018 6:37 PM
Dear Jerry,

What follows is some of my catalog entry for the pages proofs (you're right again: not galleys). I pulled this information from my database, probably eliminating the necessity of unearthing the actual copy. (I know exactly where the proofs are; it would just take work to dig them up). I bought the proofs in 2004 (for $3,000). The date could account at least partially, I suppose, for the vagueness of my memory.

__________________________________________________________________ Bought from Bob Reidel of Print Matters (Dansville, NY), who bought the proofs from a Rochester bookseller who first bought the proofs from Frank Aydelotte's son William Osgood Aydelotte.

Printer's page proofs of privately printed true 1st ed.

•Manuscript note, dated 25 September 1918, on Cornell University Department of English stationery, pasted to inside front cover: "Dear Aydelotte / Many greetings and good wishes. I am sending you Strunk's Elements of Style (in page proof). Book to be out this week. It seems to me to give the essentials more compactly than does any book I know. Possible use for S.A.T.C. English and for Engl. comp. in connection with War Aims Course? Retails at 25 cents. Yours always cordially / Martin W. Sampson/ Incidentally Chairman Cornell Com. on War Aims Course"

•"Aydelotte" named in note is Frank Aydelotte, then faculty member at MIT, later president of Swarthmore College, and author of Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds.

•43 leaves (complete), printed rectos only, title and last leaf taped in, the remainder bound with eyelets and laid in.

•There are a number of proofreader's corrections in pencil, possibly Strunk's own.

•The earliest known state of the book, Strunk's original manuscript having been lost.

__________________________________________________________________ If you want, of course, you could disclose in your blog the actual sum I paid for the proofs.

Where did you write about Joseph Worcester? Please send me the URL, since I'd love to see what you said.

Also, who holds Worcester's library? I'm eager to look at your cataloging of it. I'll try to get to that ASAP.

(I assume you know the bit about Worcester's buying Longfellow's house, yes?)

As to the Webster collection, I've been transcribing it and organizing it (and print-outs of the original documents or correspondence) into discrete personal or topical folders. It's a gargantuan task, which has been ongoing for four or five years.

The archive came to me in batches over a few years. Most of it was unsorted, and of course it required me to learn who was who, what was what, and a chronology. The folders are alphabetically housed and individually sorted by their chronologically. Some of the folders are labelled by persons, booksellers, publishers, and other protagonists; and other folders are sorted by topic.

Among the archives I found a very early letter by Walt Whitman in a gracious handwriting and manner in pursuit of a dictionary. The letter was preserved in the archive sent to me only because Whitman was only a fairly unknown newspaper editor at that point. (Other "celebrities" had been removed by the previous owners, who were direct heirs to the archive.) Other letters by Harriet Beecher Stowe's husband--with references to her--sneaked through. I also think there are files on--very roughly--125? 150? publishers, some voluminous.

I had long been thinking of writing a book of what the archive revealed (for instance, the backstory to the War of Dictionaries, the fights in the legislatures, some outright skulduggery, etc.). But someone has recently asked me to write an article for a publication she oversees, and I like the idea.

Last, I forgot to say to you earlier that your collection of Elements is wonderful!

Well, all for now.



                                                                        Mar 17, 2018 6:55 PM
Dear Madeline,

Thanks. I was not aware that your copy is a proof of the 1918 edition "before" it was published. I was under the impression that it was a proof corrected copy for the 1919 edition. I will mention how much you paid for it and also a portion of the manuscript note. I'd like to quote from part of the manuscript note. I'll send you the paragraphs for your approval before publishing it.

Keep me posted on when your article about the Merriam-Webster archives appears. Last weekend, I finally acquired a facsimile copy of Webster's 1828 dictionary–for $5.95 and in excellent condition!

I'll post about Worcester in a separate email so we don't get the topics entangled.

Thanks again!


                                                                        Mar 17, 2018 7:36 PM
Dear Madeline,

Joseph E. Worcester bequested 255 dictionaries and other works to Harvard University Library. Harvard received the books on 2 July, 1866:

I discovered the bequest bookplate in my research of the two reviews of Worcester's edition of Johnson's dictionary (2nd blog below). And the good people at Harvard located the 1866 Donation Ledger, and sent photos of the listings of all the 255 books that Worcester donated to Harvard. I included the photos of the ledger in the third blog post below, "121 Words or More About the Library of an American Lexicographer."

The Cunningham Library, Indiana State University, has a letter from Worcester's brother that contains an autograph catalogue of 1395 volumes of Joseph E. Worcester's library, listed by short title only. The books given to Harvard are not listed in this catalogue:

I've catalogued 185 of Worcester's books on Library Thing so far:

Here are my three blogs about Worcester and his library:

Sep 10, 2015: Some Worcester Sources and Other Discourses concerning the Dictionary Wars

Sep 10, 2015: A Preliminary Examination of a Pamphlet Containing Two Review's of Worcester's Edition of Johnson's Dictionary

July 7, 2016: 121 Words or More About the Library of an American Lexicographer



                                                                      Mar 18, 2018 2:59 PM
Dear Jerry,

What I sent you was only part of my catalog entry. So I think you should change the relevant sentence to add the word "partial." Or, I could send you all the names of the fields and the information with which they're populated. My database won't let me export records unless I go through a tedious, complex process. So I'd have to copy out that information by hand. (Alas, I don't have a scanner installed on this particular computer.)

Probably inserting the word "partial" is the most expeditious way to handle this. {The full fields are: Author, Title, Edition, Publication Date, Place, Publisher, Descriptors, Language, Physical Description, Binding, Typography/Design, Condition, Notes (Public), OCLC Number, Provenance, Acquisition Date, Purchase Price, Label Information [a name I made up myself as a sort of shorthand about the book], and Date Cataloged.)

I sent you (without the field names) what I thought was the most important information about my copy of the proof pages.

I'm on the run at the moment, so I won't comment any further. But you can tell me what you'd prefer about the catalog entry and the fields.

I'll probably respond again as my day progresses.

I have yet to read your Worcester material, which I've intended for today's activity. Oh, one more thing, briefly: I should have known it was Harvard who had Worcester's books. I have a copy of Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. with a Harvard bookplate stating the book was from the Worcester collection. At the time I purchased it, I wondered how I could have come to have this. I still wonder. I'll see if I have the seller's name in the database. And I'll try to put my hands on the book itself.

More soon.



Subject: (return to) ALL ABOUT JOSEPH E. WORCESTER

                                                                     Mar 18, 2018 8:00 PM
Dear Jerry,


I read through your Worcester-related post this afternoon. What a fabulous undertaking! And your Library Thing catalog of Johnson's library! And--the terrific pamphlet with the two reviews of Worcester's edition of Johnson.

I've been reading all this, unfortunately, on a small-screened dinky laptop computer, so I'll have to look over the Harvard scans when my regular computer is not in use. Incidentally, this small sceen makes me somewhat prone to typos; I can barely see the print.

In my library I have the original publication of Pickering's Vocabulary in the 1815 Memoirs of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vol.3; two copies) and six copies of the book form proper. Of the book copies, one is a presentation copy by Pickering to Caleb Cushing. Another is a copy presented by Benjamin Tappan to his brother in the text --both noted abolitionists--in which Lewis makes marginal "x"-marks next to words for which he identifies himself as the source (in the text called "an obliging correspondent ") and makes a separate list of these contributions by page number ("my contribs") on the rear pastedown. Two are interleaved copies, one of which has some annotations. I have another copy (not interleaved) with some annotations. Two copis are in the original boards, one of them rebacked to style, with the original label affixed.

I also have two three-ring binders copiously filled with Dictionary War pamphlets from both sides of the battle, presented chronologically.

I had mentioned that the Merriam archives provide the backstories to the pamphets. By that I mean that the authors of all the Merriam-side pamphlets wrote to the Merriams, sometimes several letters, projecting what they were planning to say, and what strategies and angles they were proposing to put forward. Sometimes the Merriams sent the writers' letter back to them with the Merriams' scrawled reactions.

On a personal note, let me say that I'm sorry you had to go through all that stenting.

Back to the work you're doing: You're a great sleuth, you're dogged, and you're very enterprising. Hats off!.

All for now once again.




                                                                      Mar 19, 2018 10:51 AM
Dear Madeline,

Here's some easier viewing for you. I remembered that I had created a folder of the Worcester Bequest donation Ledger Entries. Once you open the link, click on the image and use the + sign to enlarge the image:



                                                                      Mar 20, 2018 8:16 PM
Dear Madeline,

Here's my post:

Thanks again for letting my [sic] post a portion of your listing.


                                                                      Mar 20, 2018 10:03 PM
Dear Jerry,

Thanks for sending me your post. I enjoyed all of it.

But I realized I'd made a mistake. When I said Bob Reidel bought the page proofs "from a Rochester bookseller," I should have written "from a bookseller in Rochester" or "in a Rochester bookfair." I have no certainty that he was a dealer who sold books in Rochester. I only know that Bob Reidel bought the page proofs in a Rochester bookfair. I'm sorry this realization comes after you released the post, not before.

Would you want to change the wording? Or leave it as it is? I'll leave it up to you.

Again, I'm apologize for my breach of the standards of accuracy that I believe you adhere to.



                                                                        Mar 20, 2018 11:48 PM

Accuracy? I found four typos after I published my post! And I proof read it twice before publishing! :-)

I amended the post the way you suggested. The person that Bob Reidel bought the book from was a "bookseller," although not a very good one. In his Abebooks listing he did not even mention that what he was selling was a proof copy. He did email me and tell me that he sold the book at the Rochester Book Fair. And Bob mentions that in a 2003 article he wrote for IOBA, which you probably already have in your files:

Dealers do their best business among each other on setup night, and I suspect that's when Bob Riedel acquired the book.


                                                                       Mar 21, 2018 12:06 AM

Thanks for Bob Riedel's post on the bookfair he attended.

I spotted three typos just in my reply to you (including--to my everlasting shame--Bob Riedel's surname twice).

Thanks, too, for correcting the for correcting my error in your post about the bookfair.



P.S. I'm too often scandalized these days by how many typos I make (even after proofreading) just in carrying on regular email correspondence. This error-proneness hasn't been a thorn in my side till this year.... (But I still don't want to be 18 again.) --MK

                                                                            Mar 21, 2018 12:56 AM

I just "enlarged" the size of the type from your database; it was too small to read.

My fingers and my mind are not in coordination with each other anymore. I have to look at everything I type ot amke suer I'm ptuting the lteters in the correct oredr.


                                                                           Mar 21, 2018 1:06 AM

For the win!



                                                                            Mar 21, 2018 10:55 AM
Dear Medelina,

I just viewed Daniel Kreiger's Narratively article about you again before sending it to a friend who wanted to know more about you.

I don't think I sent you a view of my library. The slideshow is two years old and I've added another 200 books (at least), another book lamp (different than the one in this photo), and a two-tier rotating bookcase:

Here's the slideshow. And it has music!


                                                                        Mar 21, 2018 8:48 PM
Dear Jerry,

I forgot to email you earlier today. i happened to have been sleep-deprived today (much more than the usual very mildly so) and my assistant was out sick, so i took to my bed with unaccustomed leisure this afternoon. I'm just now slurping down what I normally have for breakfast.

I watched your library slideshow and enjoyed the musical background. I can only say that your library--such as it was two years ago--looked quite inviting. It's a bracing tribute to your curiosity, taste, and industry.

Thanks for sending me a glimpse of it. I think I'll watch the slideshow again once I'm more clear-eyed.