The Suez Canal, #Stuckboat, & The Sinews of War and Trade with Laleh Khalili

On the past, present, & future of the Suez Canal.

150 Years Ago Mark Twain Celebrated New Years Eve By Debating How Drunk He Had Been During the Preceding Year & Listening to Charles Dickens Read David Copperfield With His Future Wife

1868 was a pretty important year for Sam Clemens. Over the course of it, he would turn the Quaker City cruise of the preceding year into a lucrative cross-country lecture tour and what would prove to be a bestselling book, The Innocents Abroad (1869). He made an extended stay in Washington, DC, gathering impressions which would form the basis for his first novel, The Gilded Age (1873), as well as several […]

“The Greatest Showman” vs. “The World’s Greatest Laughmaker”

The Greatest Showman, a film about one of Mark Twain’s contemporaries and kindred spirits, releases nationwide tomorrow. Twain and P. T. Barnum were, by various accounts, friends, acquaintances, mutual admirers, and rivals. Mark Storey describes Twain as “the only man who challenged Barnum’s position as the leading celebrity of Gilded Age America.” And while Twain clearly felt a certain kinship with Barnum and treated him with cordiality, he also kept […]