Arts & Culture, History, and Music

The Human Face of War

In the cloudy maze of opinion, virulent debate, and public policy swirling around the term “American Troops,” it’s easy to forget the men and women – mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – who patrol the streets of Baghdad and Kandahar scouring SUVs for bombs, trading jokes and playing cards: some days bored; some days afraid.

Beowulf Sheehan
Every Face Tells a Story:  Profile of Photographer Beowulf Sheehan

I first met Sheehan at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature (This is Sheehan’s fourth year as the Festival’s official photographer), a mecca for international writers where an open conversation about human rights and freedom of speech takes place at venues as diverse as Town Hall and The Moth. We were both rushing to cover the many events taking place all over New York City.

Beata PalyaThe Secret World of Songs Beata Palya

Even if I’m emotional, I want to turn those feelings into a nice, musically worked out song. I like words and meaning but I also like sounds, rhythm and melodies. So, I‘m like a mother, looking after her two children – words and music – playing together, I love them both. I want to make both happy, but I don’t want to see that one is pushing the other down.

James McPhersonKeeping Time – Profile of Historian James McPherson

Like many professional historians James McPherson strives for the gold standard of objectivity in uncovering historical fact and applying analysis. He prefers the careful methodology of Ancient Greek historian Thucydides (circa 460 BC-400 BC), whose major work, The History of the Peloponnesian War, is still read today in college history seminars, to the looser and hyperbolic writings of the man often referred to as the “father of history” Herodotus (circa 484 BC-425 BC).

Tim Ogline illustration for his book about Benjamin FranklinBen Profile of Author Tim Ogline

Franklin’s innovations saved lives through fire prevention (lightning rods), improved vision (bifocals), illuminated crowded streets (street lights), spread knowledge (the first full-service library), and even helped library patrons reach coveted volumes on the top shelf (extension arms). As a boy, Franklin invented swim fins; and today, holds a place in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.