I Was Chairman Mao's Cook (and other unexpected finds in a Cold War-era intelligence archive)

What do the hydrodynamics of dolphins[1], the philosophical quandary of extra-terrestrial life[2], and Soviet experiments to detect emotions[3] have in common? Need a hint? It’s the same thing that biographies of Anwar Sadat[4] and Zhu Rongji[5], who became the fifth Premier of the People’s Republic of China, and an article by Chairman Mao’s cook[6], have in common. They are all found in the Readex digital edition of Joint Publications Research Service Reports (JPRS)—an English-language archive of translations of foreign scientific, technical, and social science materials.
I Was Chairman Mao's Cook (and other unexpected finds in a Cold War-era intelligence archive)

Happy 80th Anniversary to the Drive-In Theater

The first "drive-in theater" opened on June 6, 1933, just outside of Camden, New Jersey.  The news was covered around the country.

Happy 80th Anniversary to the Drive-In Theater

“Someday They’ll Eat Grass”: The Launch of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby as Seen in the Boston Herald and other American Newspapers

The latest Hollywood version of The Great Gatsby has sparked book sales of more than a million copies in the first half of 2013 alone. That's more than twice the number typically sold in a full year, and far more than the small number sold between 1925 and 1940—the year a dejected Fitzgerald died at 44. In May 1925, a month after Charles Scribner’s Sons released Gatsby to mixed reviews, Fitzgerald wrote to Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins about its reception: “I think all the reviews I've seen, except two, have been absolutely stupid and lousy. Someday they'll eat grass, by God!”

In the 1925 pages of the Boston Herald—one of America’s oldest daily newspapers and winner of eight Pulitzer Prizes—one can closely follow the Gatsby launch, including Scribner's supporting advertising campaign.

“Someday They’ll Eat Grass”: The Launch of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby as Seen in the Boston Herald and other American Newspapers

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: First Published Serially in The National Era (June 1851)

Before Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel appeared in book form in March 1852, it was published as a serial in The National Era, an abolitionist newspaper printed weekly in the nation’s capital. The first installment appeared this week in 1851 on the paper’s front page, beginning in the top left column:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: First Published Serially in The National Era (June 1851)

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Ascents of Everest are now so numerous they often don’t make the news anymore, unless there is a devastating loss of life, a brawl among Sherpas and climbers or a race between octogenarians to become the mountain’s oldest successful climber. Yet from early attempts in the 1920s until the triumphant expedition in 1953, attempts at Everest were widely covered. The exotic nature of the quest meant that newspapers could combine graphics and photography in the layout of their pages, as will be seen in the articles below. 

Everest was named after a former British colonial official, though the mountain had local names, including the Tibetan Chomolunga. Since both Nepal and Tibet had closed their borders to foreigners, the British didn’t know the native names. They did know it was the tallest mountain in the Himalayas, from surveying it from afar, and the tallest in the world. They also knew that only a highly organized team could conquer it. In fact, before the first attempt in the 1920s, there was actually an expedition to survey the area and plan a later attempt at the summit. 

These first two excerpts come from the World Newspaper Archive: South Asian Newspapers; the rest are from America’s Historical Newspapers. 

From The Leader of Allahabad, India, on 15 January 1921:

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

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