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Why does HNN feature blogs? Aren't they just vehicles for people who want to sound off?

The challenge of writing a blog is particularly great given the pressure to keep it up to date. But doing a blog is not fundamentally different from writing articles that appear in other places on HNN. In both cases the pressure to publish something in a timely manner necessitates foregoing the slow and steady approach common in peer-reviewed journals. By the peer review standard, none of the articles we publish pass muster as none of them are peer-reviewed in advance; the peer reviewing comes after they have already reached the public. But if that standard is the only standard, then historians must retreat from the journalistic fields and leave the harvesting of interesting views and opinions to others.

This does not sound like a reasonable approach to us. In the fast-paced world in which we now live, public attention is focused on issues for ever briefer periods of time. If scholars want their analyses to be taken into consideration--and why shouldn't they?--they have to jump into the debate early and with forcefulness.

HNN is committed to the scholarly discussion of issues in a timely manner. A person can achieve a scholarly analysis even if they write fast. Their very familiarity with the issues at hand gives them an advantage over others in arriving at a considered opinion in a quick period of time.

It may be argued that blogs fall into a separate category because they need to be updated constantly. But what is a blog? It is nothing more than an old fashioned common-place journal in a new setting. It gives the reader the chance to look over the shoulder of a historian who's reacting daily to events.

Unique though a blog may be, the speediness required by a blog is not unique. When a reporter rings up Arthur Schlesinger Jr. for a comment on an issue in the news Schlesinger has even less time than a blogger to get his thoughts in order before committing to a certain analysis or viewpoint. Yet no one argues that the public is not benefited by Schlesinger's participation. He brings to bear in an instant a lifetime's worth of reading and reflection from which everybody can benefit, whether they agree with him or not.


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Christopher Corbett - 10/14/2003

I am the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express (just published by Broadway Books).

ORPHANS PREFERRED: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express


An authoritative and entertainingly written history of the Pony Express that, for the first time, attempts to ascertain the truth about this beloved but myth-laden piece of Western Americana, and, in the process, exposes how the myth came to be.

"WANTED. YOUNG, SKINNY, WIRY FELLOWS. NOT OVER 18. MUST BE EXPERT RIDERS. WILLING TO RISK DEATH DAILY. ORPHANS PREFERRED."
—California newspaper help wanted ad, 1860


The Pony Express is one of the most celebrated and enduring chapters in the history of the United States. It is a story of the all-American traits of bravery, bravado and entrepreneurial risk that are part of the very fabric of the Old West. No image of the American West in the mid-1800s is more familiar, more beloved, and more powerful than that of the lone rider galloping the mail across hostile Indian territory. No image is more revered. And none is less understood.


Although rooted in actual events and real people, the saga of the Pony Express has become an American legend, embellished in everything from Mark Twain’s Roughing It, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and dime novels, to the western film classics of John Ford, the art of Frederic Remington, and scores of children’s books. Orphans Preferred is both a revisionist history of this magnificent and ill-fated adventure and an entertaining look at the often larger-than-life individuals who created and perpetuated the myth of “the Pony,” as it is known along the Pony Express trail that runs from Saint Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California.


The Pony Express is a story that exists in the annals of Americana where fact and fable collide, a story as heroic as the journey of Lewis and Clark, as complex and revealing as the legacy of Custer’s Last Stand and as muddled and freighted with yarns as Paul Revere’s midnight ride. Orphans Preferred is a fresh and exuberant reexamination of this great American story.



CHRISTOPHER CORBETT has been a working journalist for more than twenty-five years. A former news editor and reporter with the Associated Press, Corbett has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Boston Globe. The author of Vacationland, a novel, he lives in Baltimore. He teaches journalism at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.


Christopher Corbett
7 Beechdale Road
Baltimore, MD 21210

410-235-1999

Here is the website for Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express (just published by Random House/Broadway Books division).



*Ingram just picked the book as the "sleeper" of the fall season.



*Barnes & Noble picked it as a Discovery title



*It's being serialized in American Heritage (a Forbes magazine)



*I was just taped by C-Span. And have been on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition with Linda Wertheimer along with "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me."



American Library Association's Booklist said:



"Rollicking . . . fun reading . . . the book is great entertainment of itself, but buffs of the West will virtually gallop to the checkout line."





See:

http://www.orphanspreferred.com



To give you some idea of its crossover appeal - The Washington Times, perhaps the most conservative newspaper in America, and The Onion, probably the hippest paper - BOTH gave it rave reviews.


http://www.theonionavclub.com/3939/words.html#review3

http://www.washtimes.com/books/20031011-113025-5085r.htm



editor - 8/1/2003

WHAT IS A BLOG?

Blog is short for "web log." It is a kind of common-place journal or diary kept on the web. Several features distinguish blogs from other forms on the web: they are frequently updated; they include lots of links to other sites; and most maintain a personal tone. Many celebrate blogs for opening the web up to voices the mainstream media often neglect. Like talk radio, most of the popular blogs are run by conservatives. HNN is the only site that features blogs by historians.


Tony Zurlo - 7/27/2003

Terrific Website.

What's a Blog?


walterrhett - 7/19/2003

Good Day-- I publish a serial journal on Charleston (SC), past and present, with documentary samples, comprehensive history themes, and contemporary tie-ins. Is membership open,or links considered?

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