Quite a Quote

Amos Oz, the Jerusalemite writer who now lives in the Negev, offers this droll solution: “We should remove every stone of the Holy Sites and transport them to Scandinavia for a hundred years and not return them until everyone has learned to live together in Jerusalem.” Sadly this is slightly impractical.

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Jerusalem: The Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

Quite a Quote

The A.S.I. soon registers 375 m.p.h. It is clear that I am in an almost perpendicular dive. I read on the illuminated figures of the altimeter 6900, 6600, 6000, 5400, 5100, 4800, 4500 feet. At this rate it is only a matter of seconds before there will be a crash, and that will be the end. I am in a sweat; water just pours off me. Is it rain or is it sweat? 3900, 3300, 2400, 1800, 1500 on the altimeter. Gradually I succeed in getting the other instruments functioning properly except for an alarming pressure on the joy stick. So I continue to hurtle earthwards. The vertical speed indicator is still set at maximum. All this time I am completely benighted. Ghostly lightning flashes stab the darkness, making it even more difficult to fly by instruments. I pull on the stick with both hands to bring the aircraft back into a horizontal position. Altitude 1500, 1200 feet! The blood is throbbing in my temples, I gasp for breath. Something inside me urges me to give up this struggle with the unleashed forces of the elements. Why go on? All my efforts are of no avail. Now it also strikes me that the altimeter has stopped at 600 feet; it still oscillates feebly like an exhausted barometer. That means the crash will come at any moment with the altimeter still registering 600 feet. No, carry on, dourly, with might and main. A groaning thump. There now, I am dead. . . I think. Dead.? If I were I should not be able to think. Besides, I can still hear the noise of the engine. It is still as dark all around as it was before, and now the unruffled voice of Scharnovski says serenely: “It looks as if we had bumped into something or other, sir.”

Rudel, Hans Ulrich. Stuka Pilot. London: Black House Publishing, 2013.

Quite a Quote

Atlanta survived the war and grew so quickly afterward that its destruction in late 1864 appears almost as just another of its occasional economic setbacks. It has no place in the argument over whether the New South was just a mutated form of the Old South or something new. Atlanta existed as something on the outside of the traditional South, a city on the edge of the Midwest that had more in common with Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas and the like—cities of steam and fire.

 

Davis, Robert Scott. Civil War: Atlanta. Charleston: The History Press, 2011.

Quite a Quote

You must struggle to truly remember this past in all its nuance, error, and humanity. You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this. Perhaps our triumphs are not even the point. Perhaps struggle is all we have because the god of history is an atheist, and nothing about his world is meant to be. So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

Quite a Quote

     The principal chief’s true intentions would never be known, because Jackson did not test them. Although the letter was addressed to Jackson, there is no record that he answered it personally. Instead a disapproving note came from an aide, and the president maintained his course. A partial solution would not satisfy the Georgians, and according to Jackson it was the Georgians alone with whom Ross must come to terms. Georgia, not Jackson, was destroying the Cherokee Nation; the president was merely standing aside to let it happen. So it was with the national economy—the Bank of the United States, not Jackson, was wrecking it. So it had been twenty years earlier when his soldiers were preparing to execute John Wood. “Between [the] law & its offender,” he had written then, “the commanding General ought not to be expected to interpose.”

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

Quite a Quote

By remaining cool and reasonable Bolívar retained his panoply of power. At the same time he reminded Santander of his place in the hierarchy of the revolution: ‘It is an honour that two of my friends and assistants have emerged as two prodigies…. I am the man of difficulties, you are the man of law, and Sucre is the man of war.’ The meaning was clear: I am supreme, the one who solves the great problems. I command, you administer.

Lynch, John. Simón Bolívar: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Quite a Quote

Project Bedbug, sponsored by the Limited War Laboratory (LWL) in Maryland, only just failed to take off. This involved the tactical use of bedbugs (or “man-seeking anthropods,” as LWL called them) to warn infantryman of approaching VC guerrillas. William Beecher of the New York Times, who visited LWL, described the project as follows: Since bedbugs “let out a yowl of excitement when they sense the presence of food, specifically including human flesh, the lab created a bedbug carrier fitted with a sound amplification device…. when a bug-bearing patrol approached an enemy ambush, the members of the patrol would be forewarned by the happy cries of the animals upon sensing a meal up ahead.” The project collapsed when it was discovered that the bedbugs couldn’t control their excitement. They became so deliriously happy at just being carried about by GIs that they were too busy “swooning with delight” to warn their patrons of any approaching Communist ambush.

Mangold, Tom, and John Penycate. The Tunnels of Cu Chi. New York: Presidio Books, 2005.

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Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

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Zoë Tersche

Freelance writing focusing on internet freedoms and surveillance along with sexuality and gender in media and tech.