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Jack El-Hai signs books outside the Donaldson mansion on Mt. Curve. Photo by Claude Peck.
Author Jack El-Hai, who specializes in accounts of historic events and relationships in medicine and science, got an historic setting in which to introduce his latest book -- the Donaldson mansion on Lowry Hill. Built in 1906 for department-store magnate Lawrence Donaldson, the spacious home is on the market and can be yours for $5.5 million. The launch as hosted by Peter Hutchinson and Karla Ekdahl, who moved it from their own nearby home to accommodate the crowd of about 150 or so.
Vince Flynn was working on a 14th Mitch Rapp novel when he died in June. Star Tribune photo by Jim Gehrz.
Vince Flynn, the author of the best-selling Mitch Rapp political thrillers, was working on the 14th installment in the series, titled "The Survivor," when he died of cancer in June. The book was to have been released in October.
His publisher, SImon & Schuster, has released a statement saying that the St. Paul native's book is "postponed indefinitely" because it is "too soon to know" how much he had completed.
Ordinarily Vince's editor, Emily Bestler, would have been in constant communication with him about the book, but during his last six months, Flynn's health was the only priority, said Simon & Schuster spokesman David Brown: "We know Vince was working, we just don't know yet what he was able to accomplish. It's just a matter of waiting for an appropriate time to sit down with his family and discuss everything. Right now we're still mourning the loss."
The implication of the statement seems to be that if it is determined there is enough material to publish the book posthumously, another writer or editor may be called in to finish it. Otherwise, it will likely be cancelled.
The same holds true for a collaboration Flynn was working on with writer Brian Haig, the statement said, though that book is still available for pre-order.
Read Flynn's Star Tribune obituary here
The greatest and most cosmopolitan portrait painter of the Gilded Age, John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925) was famously described as "an American born in Italy, educated in France, who looks like a German, speaks like an Englishman, and paints like a Spaniard."
In the early 1900s, bored with his immensely successful portrait career, Sargent took up watercolor painting in earnest, turning out fluid, remarkably fresh and varied studies in that demanding medium. The Brooklyn Museum acquired a substantial number of the watercolors in 1909 and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston followed in 1912. Now more than 80 of these exquisitely beautiful images have been reunited for the first time in a traveling exhibition and accompanying catalogue.
Unlike conventional watercolors of the era, which tended to be overly refined and somewhat effete, Sargent's were bold, loosely painted and vigorously colored. Still, as with all watercolors, they are "fugitive" -- meaning that their pigments would fade if long exposed to light. As a result, they are seldom exhibited and then only for brief periods.
"John Singer Sargent Watercolors" reflects the artist's travels throughout Europe and the Middle East, from the canals of Venice to the marble quarries of Carrara, Italy and the Bedouin camps of the Holy Land -- Jerusalem, Beirut and Syria. He also traveled into the Alps during summers and painted friends picnicing, conversing or napping in the shade of huge umbrellas. His quarry scenes from Carrara are virtually abstract impressions of light bouncing off slabs of stone or ragged cliffs. And in Italian villa gardens and on the Island of Corfu, he gave free rein to his bravura style in architectural studies of light on stone fountains, arcades and walls dancing with multicolored shadows.
Savvy travelers will set aside time to see the paintings at the Brooklyn Museum through July 28, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (October 13 - January 20, 2014) or the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (March 2 - May 26, 2014). Or pick up a copy of the luscious exhibition catalogue, John Singer Sargent Watercolors by Erica E. Hirshler and Teresa A. Carbone, (copublished by the Brooklyn and Boston museums, $39.95).
At Mill City Museum Thursday, author Neal Karlen gave an animated recounting of Minneapolis's Jewish-mafia era in the 1940s and '50s. That's club owner Augie Ratner on the right. Photo by Fawn Bernhardt-Norvell.
Good thing for Neal Karlen that Israel "Icepick Willie" Alderman no longer roams Hennepin Ave. Ol' Icepick (photo below) -- whose specialty was ramming a you-know-what into the eardrums of his victims to avoid obvious signs of murder -- wouldn't have taken kindly to Karlen's spilling his secrets Thursday night at the Mill City Museum, where more than 120 people braved the spring blizzard to hear the author read from his new book, "Augie's Secrets" The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip." The event was hosted by its publisher, Minnesota Historical Society Press.
The "Augie" in the title, Karlen's great-uncle Augie Ratner, owned the strip club that still bears his name, though he sold it in the '60s. Karlen spoke of how Augie's, along with long-gone establishments like the Persian Palms and the 620 Club, was a watering hole for infamous mobsters including Isadore "Kid Cann" Blumenfeld (who got his nickname because he was always in the bathroom when the cops showed up, so the story goes) and gambling kingpin Davie "the Jew" Berman.
Kid Cann gave money not only to synagogues, but also Christian churches, because he said he "liked to play all the angles," Karlen said, adding that the Jewish mafia weren't alone in their shady deals: "There were some corrupt Scandinavians, too."
Israel "Icepick WIllie" Alderman
Walt Bachman, well known in Minnesota as a lawyer, former chief deputy Hennepin County attorney and a member of the family behind Bachman’s garden stores, was back in the Twin Cities this week to launch his new book.
Bachman, pictured, who lives in New York, has written “Northern Slave, Black Dakota” (Pond Dakota Press, $24.95), a biography of Joseph Godfrey, a fascinating and little-known figure in Minnesota history.
Bachman spoke and signed books Wednesday at the Bachman’s store on Lyndale Avenue South, where the crowd included a dozen Bachman family members as well as about 10 ancestors of Godfrey, who was born in the 1830s in Minnesota, the son of a black slave woman. Godfrey, himself a slave until he ran away from his owner, later married a Dakota woman and lived much of his life with the Dakota people.
Walt Bachman’s great-great grandfather, Ernst Dietrich, was among those killed in August 1862 at the outset of the Dakota War in an attack by a party of Dakota Indians that included Godfrey.
The incident in his family history led Bachman to spend more than six years researching and writing about Godfrey and about the often-ignored fact that slavery was present in Minnesota in the decades leading up to statehood, despite its being unlawful in the territory under terms of the 1820 Missouri Compromise.
“Northern Slave, Black Dakota” is a painstakingly researched and tautly written account that pieces together from scant records the early years of Godfrey, who became much better known to the history books after his imprisonment and trial for killings during the Dakota War.
Sentenced to hang, Godfrey’s death sentence was among a very few that were commuted by President Abraham Lincoln. Released after several years in prison, Godfrey found his way to an Indian reservation in Nebraska, where he lived a long life, dying in 1909.
It may seem odd for someone to write the biography of a man who was alleged to have killed his ancestor on a day that is known for a pitiless bloody massacre of whites by Indians in and around what was then Milford, Minnesota. But, said Bachman, he became convinced that Godfrey, while not blameless, has been “unfairly maligned by history,” a wrong he sought to correct. “Northern Slave, Black Dakota” does that with clarity and commitment. The book should compel the interest of all who are interested in 19th-century Minnesota history.
Also see the Star Tribune's recent series about the Dakota War, "In the Footsteps of Little Crow," by Curt Brown.
Joseph Godfrey, pictured on the book cover of "Northern Slave, Black Dakota," by Walt Bachman, was born a slave in Minnesota and lived the first half of his life here.