Collection of wartime and post-war pamphlets on worker’s rights, Judaism, and communism

mayday in the atomic ageJust in: a small collection of fascinating pamphlets on worker’s rights, unions, communism and Judaism published from 1939-1950, just as the McCarthy era was gathering a full head of steam (did I say steam? as in hot air?).

Continue reading Collection of wartime and post-war pamphlets on worker’s rights, Judaism, and communism

Get the vote out. No, really. Get the vote out.

It’s a fact often lamented in the U.S. – and rightfully so – about the dreadful turnout rates that many of our democratic elections receive. We’ve had a number of presidential elections with less than 50% turnout (think Clinton v. Dole v. Perot).

What I find astounding is that in the ratification of Fidel Castro’s first Declaracion de la Habana, Cuba achieved a turnout rate of at least 15% of the population of the country.

That’s so sad, you say.


I meant turnout in the sense of turnout at a ballgame: physical bodies assembled in support of a team, a cause, a symbol, an idea.750782025.2.m

On September 2, 1960, over a million people gathered as the “National General Assembly of the People” in the square near José Marti’s statue to ratify Castro’s declaration against imperialism and poverty.

Only 7 million people lived in the entire nation at the time.

… Yet, despite one of the most powerful democratic actions in recorded history, try – just, try – to find contemporary Western media coverage that even acknowledges the event, much less describes its historical import.


Disclosure: The author of this post was raised – and still is – a red-blooded American,  largely raised in the U.S. South, with family roots trailing back almost two centuries into the American midwest, who finds himself continually disappointed in the agenda-driven media and educational system that he was raised.  (often wonders why, for example, we weren’t taught Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West alongside Homer’s Odyssey?)

Juxtaposition, or The Dumpling’s Fate by Photo

Life just isn’t fair. It seems some are just destined for greatness, and others for some kind of sad, Ignatius J Reilly existence. And there’s not much you can do about it, because it’s just flatly written across your face and your posture. You can almost see it as early as kindergarten photos. Winner, meet loser.

That’s what I love about this photo by reknowned Cuban photographer, Osvaldo Salas (signed by him, actually).

fide photo
Salas photo of Fidel Castro and fellow revolutionaries, 1959.

On the left, you have proud, heroic Captain José Ramón Fernández, and then you have a few people with at least passing historic significance, namely one Fidel Castro Ruiz accompanied by Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado (president of Cuba 1959-1976) and Augusto Martínez Sánchez (an early member of Castro’s regime, but ousted in 1964 by Castro). Then we have Humberto Sorí Marin on the far-right, looking for all the world like a dumpling that lost both its chicken and noodles.

Let’s reconstitute that paragraph this way.

Captain José Ramón Fernández …. blah, blah …. Humberto Sorí Marin.

Winner? Loser? Care to take a guess?

See Sorí Marin was a part of Castro’s revolution and early government, but left after just a few months and defected to the U.S. with help from the CIA in October 1959.  In 1961, he returned.

As a member of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

Four guesses which guy in the photo was sent by Castro to repel the invasion. Right. Ramón Fernández.

Sorí Marin was captured in the invasion and executed by firing squad a few weeks later.

Meanwhile, Ramón Fernández, victorious in repelling the invasion, went on to be a General, garner titles like Hero of the Republic of Cuba, and is currently a Vice President of the council of ministers at the spry age of 91.

Full disclosure: the author himself was a lost little dumpling in his kindergarten photograph.


You’ve heard of Lawrence of Arabia, but have you heard of Carl Raswan?

the arab and his horse
Raswan’s account of life among the Beduin.

One of the things I love about being in the business of antiquarian books is the varied and continuous education I receive as I research materials I acquire or consider acquiring.

Recently, I came across one Carl Raswan, an expert in Arabian horse pedigree and perhaps an under-appreciated advocate for tolerance and understanding between the western world and beduin culture.

Continue reading You’ve heard of Lawrence of Arabia, but have you heard of Carl Raswan?