Plus: Why midterm elections happen and the real ‘Front Runner’ |

November 08, 2018

By Lily Rothman

A very big historical anniversary is coming up this weekend: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—in other words, this Sunday—will mark a century since the armistice that brought fighting in World War I to an end. Already, we’ve started to mark that anniversary by looking at how the war turned poppies into a symbol of remembrance, the link between the armistice and modern drone warfare and how the American popular memory of the war is still shaped by none other than Snoopy.

There’s more to come on between now and Veterans Day, which is observed in the U.S. on Monday, but for now here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Here's the Dark History Behind Felon Disenfranchisement

Florida voters approved a ballot measure to return the right to vote to ex-felons—a matter that's been debated for more than a century

The True Story Behind The Front Runner

Gary Hart's fall from grace, which inspired the new Hugh Jackman movie 'The Front Runner,' marked a turning point in political journalism

What Is Tikkun Olam? Why Pittsburgh Inspired Calls to Fix World

An expert explains how the concept of 'healing the world' evolved in American Judaism and why it's a source of controversy today

Why Do Midterm Elections Even Exist?

Here's how the U.S. Constitution's framers came up with six-year Senate terms and two-year House terms

"Journalistic Objectivity Evolved the Way It Did for a Reason"

The concept of objective journalism was popularized only about a century ago and its significance has changed substantially in that time, argues the author of a new book on the subject


Nov. 8, 1968

50 Years Ago: LBJ’s Bombing Decision

“Thus it came as the supreme irony of the Johnson Administration that, as Americans prepared to go to the polls this week to vote for another President, the agony of Viet Nam appeared about to be alleviated. In a televised address to the nation that may rate as the high point of his career, the President announced: ‘I have now ordered that all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Viet Nam cease,’ effective twelve hours after he spoke. ‘What we now expect—what we have a right to expect—are prompt, productive, serious and intensive negotiations.’” (Nov. 8, 1968)

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 Nov. 8, 1982

Today in 1982: The Catalogue Craze

“The average American household receives 40 catalogues a year. No wonder the U.S. Postal Service expects to post a $400 million profit this year. Mail orders will generate close to $40 billion in consumer sales, mostly from catalogues. Last year the food category alone accounted for some $465 million in purchases. While the business represents only about 4% of the $1 trillion in sales rung up by U.S. retailers, it is growing by about 15% yearly, five times as fast as over-the-counter retail sales. By 1990, mail sales are expected to account for 20% of all general merchandise sold in the U.S. To an ever increasing number of consumers with neither time nor heart for legwork shopping, thumbing through the catalogues can not only save time and money but be rewardng as well.” (Nov. 8, 1982)

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Nov. 8, 1948

70 Years Ago: J. Robert Oppenheimer

“More & more physicists are coming to know the Institute as the home of an authentic contemporary hero of their trade: Dr. J. (for nothing) Robert Oppenheimer, who is president of the American Physical Society, chairman of the technical advisers to the Atomic Energy Commission, and one of the world's top theoretical physicists. Laymen know him as the man who bossed the production of the atom bomb. Last week, at 44, Oppenheimer was beginning his second year as director of the Institute for Advanced Study.” (Nov. 8, 1948)

Read the full story


Signed, Sealed In light of the release of a once-sealed Watergate report, Carrie Johnson at NPR examines what the secrets it held can provide by way of a “road map” for investigating a president.

Living Room Prepare to gape: CNN has a look inside a new interior-design book that offers a window into “history’s most opulent English houses.”

Study Guide The New York Times offers great news-in-the-classroom resources for teachers, and I find them fascinating as a different way of looking at current events. Here, for example, Michael Gonchar presents a lesson plan for discussing democracy, and its history, around the world.

On the Ticket At The New Yorker, Alicia Cheng’s story about the evolution of the American ballot—the physical piece of paper used to vote—is a visual treat.

Celebrity Endorsement Historian Kathryn Cramer Brownell writes for the Washington Post about how the Democratic Party first forged links with Hollywood.

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