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A Selective History of Eating Those Words

Where and when the phrase “You’ll eat those words,” the standard idiom to suggest something said or written will be retracted, originated is unknown. As far back as the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos must eat a book held by an angel. A book of proverbs printed at Cambridge University in 1670 contained the […]

Panning my favorite books

For years, this blog’s had a page for what I call my Desert Island Books. It’s a take-off on BBC radio’s “Desert Island Discs,” where guests pick the eight recordings they’d want with them if stranded on a desert island.

I’m well aware of how opinions of books can vary. You know, one person’s treasure […]

A Bible hoax that won’t die

Between 1879 and 1896, the Rev. William D. Mahan, a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, published three tracts of previously unknown contemporary accounts of Jesus Christ’s life. There’s virtually unanimous agreement that his work is a fraud, and Mahan’s Presbytery suspended him for falsehood and plagiarism. Still, the last version, The Archko Volume, is […]

Mark Twain’s “ghost” written books

During his life, Samuel Clements (“Mark Twain”) became “the greatest humorist this country has produced,” according to the New York Times. It seems Twain still wanted to write after he died in April 1910. He supposedly “ghost” wrote at least three books.

The first book Twain wrote posthumously was appropriately titled Spirits Do Return. Published […]

How a Portuguese-English guide became a humor classic

NOTE: All quotations (sic)

Success comes, some say, when you “find a need and fill it.” In the mid-19th century, Pedro Carlino saw a need for a conversational guide to Portuguese and English. He didn’t let the fact he couldn’t speak English stand in his way. First published in 1855, his book remains available today. […]