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May 9, 2005 11:24 am

Noteworthy ...

All literature, says Christopher Booker, can be reduced to seven basic plots: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Denis Dutton,"Once Upon a Time," Washington Post, 8 May, reviews Booker's The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (Continuum).

Jews in America: Our Story is an excellent site, created in celebration of 350 years of the Jewish experience in the United States.

Gish Jen,"A Short History of the Chinese Restaurant," Slate, 28 April, is a good, short social history. Eastern European Jewish immigrants meet Chinese food and -- lo mein -- they are both Americanized.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft's"How Good Was the Good War?" Boston Globe, 8 May, identifies some of the national legends that were borne out of VE Day.

Theodore Dalrymple,"The Roads to Serfdom," City Journal, Spring, is a libertarian's look at how Great Britain has changed since World War II.

In"‘The Presidential Recordings': L.B.J.'s Chat Room," New York Times, 8 May, Eric Foner reviews KC Johnson's edition of the other Johnson's presidential tapes: THE PRESIDENTIAL RECORDINGS: LYNDON B. JOHNSON The Kennedy Assassination and the Transfer of Power, November 1963-January 1964. Edited by Max Holland, Robert David Johnson, David Shreve and Kent B. Germany. General editors: Philip Zelikow, Ernest May and Timothy Naftali. Three volumes. 2,505 pp. W. W. Norton & Company.

Casting rumors abound! Will Ron Jeremy risk his professional reputation to star as David Horowitz when Hollywood films Radical Son? Will David Horowitz take time away from the cream pie circuits to star as Krusty the Clown? Thanks to Scott McLemee, who is enjoying this too much.

Finally, Arianna Huffington's The Huffington Post is launched. Ellis Henican sees possibilities in it; Howard Kurtz is more skeptical.

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Martin Baskin White - 5/9/2005

Somewhere (I can't recall the citation) Robert Heinlein said there are only three plots, The Little Tailor (which I guess would include Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, and some Quests), The Man Who Learns Better (which I guess would include Quests, Voyage and Return, Tragedy, Rebirth), and Boy Meets Girl (Comedy).

Greg James Robinson - 5/9/2005

Yes, but not by name, and not giving any examples of why this matters. Is it worth buying a whole new book to be able to read "Nigra" instead of "Negro."?

Ralph E. Luker - 5/9/2005

Foner does refer at one point in the review to the Beschloss edition, noting that this new one is an improvement on his transcriptions of the tapes.

Greg James Robinson - 5/9/2005

Given how widely welcomed and used Michael Beschloss's edited collections of Johnson tapes have been (and also the pasting KC Johnson and the others have offered Beschloss and Co. on transcription mistakes) it is awfully curious that Foner does not compare the two works or explain what is new (or different) here. Did Beschloss forget anything of consequence? Does this change our understanding? I would be sorry to think that Foner, one of my favorite historians, is omitting Beschloss due to an extreme case of envy/disdain for talking head media star historians like Beschloss(a malady whose symptoms I recognize in myself and in many historians).

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