Whittaker Chambers (1901-61) was born Jay Vivian Chambers in Philadelphia, PA
on April 1, 1901. His long strange journey [brilliantly told in Sam Tanenhaus' prize winning Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (Read Orrin's review, Grade: A)] stands as an allegory of 20th Century man and his own memoir, Witness (1952) (read Orrin's review, Grade : A+), is one of the great books of this or any century. See also Orrin's review of Ghosts on the Roof: Selected Journalism of Whittaker Chambers 1931-1959 (1989) (Whittaker Chambers 1901-61)(edited by Terry Teachout) (Grade: A)
Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) was born in Marseille, FR on April 1, 1868. Read Orrin's review of Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)(Edmond Rostand 1868-1918) (Grade: A+)
Milan Kundera (1929-) was born in Brno, CZ on April 1, 1929. Brothers Judd recommends The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984).
Toshiro Mifune (1920-97) was born in Tsingtao, China on April 1, 1920. As John Wayne was to John Ford, so was Mifune to Akira Kurosawa. Brothers Judd recommends their collaborations: Rashomon (1950), The Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958) and Yojimbo (1961). Mifune also starred in an excellent series of films based on the life of Musashi Miyamoto [see Orrin's review of A Book of Five Rings (1645)(Miyamoto Musashi 1584-1645) (Grade: C+)]
The great folklorist Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark on April 2, 1805
Emile Zola (1840-) was born in Paris, FR on April 2, 1840. Brothers Judd recommends his novel Germinal (1885)
Everett Hale (1822-1909) was born in Boston, MA on April 3, 1822. Read Orrin's review of The Man Without a Country (1863) (Edward Everett Hale 1822-1909) (Grade: A+)
Ma Rainey [Gertrude Pridgett](1886-1939), "The Mother of the Blues", was born in Columbus, GA on April 3, 1888.
Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born in New York, NY on April 3, 1783. Read Orrin's review of Tales of the Alhambra (Grade: A)
James Earl Ray assassinated the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. Gerald Posner disproves all of the ridiculous conspiracy theories surrounding the killing in his excellent book Killing the Dream(Read Orrin's review, Grade: B)
Maya Angelou (1928-) was born in St. Louis, MO on April 4, 1928. Read Orrin's review of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)(Grade: B)
Muddy Waters [McKinley Morganfield](1915-) was born in Rolling Fork, MS on April 4, 1915.
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was born in Franklin County, VA on April
5, 1856. Read Orrin's review of Up From Slavery (1901) (Grade: A)(#3 on the Modern Library Top 100 Nonfiction Books of the 20th Century)
Colin Powell (1937-) was born in New York, NY on April 5, 1937.
Herbert von Karajan (1908-89) was born in Salzburg, Austria on April 5, 1908.
Holiday [Eleanora Fagan](1915-59) was born in Baltimore, MD on April 7, 1915.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was born in Cockermouth, GB on April 7, 1770. One of his best known works is Tintern Abbey
Barbara Kingsolver (1955-) was born in Annapolis, MD on April 8, 1955. Read Orrin's fairly ugly review of The Poisonwood Bible (Grade: F)
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was born in Paris, FR on April 9, 1821. His masterwork is The Flowers of Evil.
O. Henry's great short story The Gift of the Magi was first published on April 10, 1906. Read Orrin's review.
Lew Wallace (1827-1905) was born in Brookville, IN on April 10, 1827. Read Orrin's review of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880)(Grade: A+)
F. Scott Fitzgerald's (1896-1940) classic novel The
Great Gatsby was published on April 11, 1925. (read Orrin's review, Grade: A)
Samuel Beckett (1906-89) was born in Foxrock, County Dublin, IRE on April 13, 1906. Read Orrin's review of Waiting for Godot (1948)(Grade: F)
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was born in Shadwell, VA on April 13, 1743. Read Orrin's review of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (1996)(Joseph J. Ellis) (Grade: A-)
Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Read Walter Lord's excellent account of the sinking in A
Night to Remember.
Frank Serpico was born in on April 14, 1934. Brothers Judd recommends Serpico
(1973) (Peter Maas)
Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865. David Herbert Donald's Lincoln
(1995) provides an outstanding one volume account of his life.
Noah Webster, a founder of Amherst College, published his American Dictionary of the English Language, the product of 35 years of work, on April 14, 1818.
Horace McCoy was born in Pegram, TN on April 14, 1897. Brothers Judd recommends They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) (Horace McCoy 1897-1955)
Jackie Robinson & the Brooklyn Dodgers broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947. Read Orrin's review of Jackie Robinson: A Biography (1997)(Arnold Rampersad) (Grade: B+)
Henry James (1843-1916) was born in New York City on April 15, 1843. Read Orrin's reviews of The Turn of the Screw (Grade: B), The Ambassadors (1903) & The Wings of the Dove (1902)
Happy Birthday to Mel and Chuck (April 15)
Anatole France (1844-1924) was born in Paris, France on April 16, 1844.
Alexander Cartwright, who codified the rules of baseball, was born in New York City on April 17, 1820. It is widely assumed that he was divinely inspired when he established the measurement of 90 feet between bases.
Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen, Baroness Blixen-Finecke) was born on April 17, 1885, in Rungsted, Denmark. Read Orrin's review of Out of Africa (1937) (Grade: B+) or watch the excellent movie adaptation.
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was born in Madison, WI on April 17, 1897. (Read Orrin's review of his 1927 Pulitzer Prize Winner, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Grade: C)
It was on April 18, 1775 that Paul Revere, Bill Dawes and Sam Prescott, made their famous "midnight ride" to warn colonial militiamen that British troops were advancing toward Lexington and Concord. This marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Clarence Seward Darrow (1857-1938) was born in Kinsman, OH on April 18, 1857. He appears in the recommended books Compulsion and Angel of Darkness.
Richard Hughes (1900-76) was born in Weybridge, England on April 19, 1900. Read Orrin's review of A High Wind in Jamaica (1929) (Grade: C) (#71 on the Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century)
Lord Byron died of malaria on April 19, 1824 while helping the Greeks fight for their independence from Turkey.
The first battle of the American Revolution took place on April 19, 1775 when Minutemen and British soldiers exchanged fire at Lexington, MA.
Charles Dickens' great novel A Tale of Two Cities started coming out in monthly installments on April 20, 1859
Mark Twain (1835-1910) died in Redding, Connecticut on April 21, 1910. Read Orrin's review of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)(Grade: A-)
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) author of Jane Eyre, was born in Yorkshire, England on April 21, 1816.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on April 22, 1899. Read Orrin's reviews of Lolita (1955)(Grade: A), Pale Fire (1962) (Grade: B) and Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1966)(Grade: A)
Henry Fielding (1707-54), one of the creators of the novel, was born in Somerset, England on April 22, 1707. Read Orrin's
review of The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742) (Grade: B+)
Oppenheimer (1904-1967), Father of the Bomb, was born in New York City on April 22, 1904. His work at Los Alamos is best recounted in Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is assumed to have been born on April 23, 1564. Read Orrin's review of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (1599)(William Shakespeare 1564-1616) (Grade: A+)
James Buchanan (1791-1868), who is easily one of the worst Presidents of the Unnited States, was born in Cove Gap, PA on April 23, 1791.
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), America's first Poet Laureate, was born in Guthrie, KY on April 23, 1905. Warren won three Pulitzer Prizes, the first in 1947 for All
the King's Men (1946) (Grade: A+)
Halldór Laxness (1902-98) was born in Reykjavík, ICE on April 23, 1902. Read Orrin's review of Independent People (1946)(Grade: A+)
Mark McCormick reminds us: National Arbor Day is April 24. Connecticut (state tree - white oak) celebrates on April 30. New Hampshire (state tree - paper birch) is more generic, marking Arbor Day on the last Friday of April. Arbor Day varies by state so it coincides with a region's tree planting season.
Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), one of the three Great English novelists of the 19th Century (along with Austen & Dickens), was born on April 24, 1815. The Palliser novels are especially good, try Phineas Finn.
Sue Grafton (1940-), the best of the women Private Eye novelists, was born in Louisville, KY on April 24, 1940. Read Orrin's review of 'A' is for Alibi (1982)(Sue Grafton 1940-) (Grade: A)
Fitzgerald (1918-1996), First Lady of Song, was born in Newport News, VA on April 25, 1918. Dryfoos recommends her Louis Armstrong collaborations.
Frederick Law Olmstead (1822-1903) was born in Hartford, CT on April 26, 1822. Read Orrin's review of A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century (1999)(Witold Rybczynski) (Grade:
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was born in London, ENG on April 26, 1660. Read Orrin's review of The Life & Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719) (Grade: A)
Anita Loos (1893-1981) was born in Sissons, CA on April 26, 1893. Read Orrin's review of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925)
Bernard Malamud (1914 - 1986) was born in Brooklyn, NY on April 26, 1914. Read Orrin's review of The Fixer (1966)
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was born in Point Pleasant, OH on April 27, 1822. His Memoirs, written while he was dying, in order to save his family from debt, are one of the only real literary achievements penned by a president. Read Orrin's review of Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President (1997)(Geoffrey Perret)(Grade: A+)
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) was born in Surrey, England on April 27, 1737. His masterpiece is The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Harper Lee (1926-) was born in Monroeville, AL on April 28, 1926. Her great novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), is the most flagrant ommission from the Modern Library Top 100. (read Orrin's review, Grade: A+)
James Monroe (1758-1831), 5th President of the United States, was born in Westmoreland
County, VA on April 28, 1758. He is best known for the Monroe Doctrine, which was actually a product of his Secretary of State, John
Quincy Adams. Monroe died on the 4th of July, one of three founding fathers to do so.
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974), son of a White House butler, was born in Washington, DC on April 29, 1899. Dryfoos recommends his Blanton Era recordings and the Ellington bio Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington by John Edward Hasse.
Annie Dillard (1945-) was born in Pittsburgh, PA on April 30, 1945. Read Orrin's review of Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek (1974)(Grade: A)
Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, TX on April 30, 1933. Try one of his Greatest Hits collections.