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Letters

Readers Respond to the November Issue

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David Halberstam ("Command Performance") was obviously an admirer of Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway and had little regard for Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Korea was one of our political wars. Generals did not fight it—politicians did. I was there—a 19-year-old airman—and understood how politicians were tying MacArthur's hands behind his back and telling him to fight a war he couldn't win.
Robert Hill,
La Veta, Colorado

Ridgway's Due

Halberstam's article about Ridgway's turnaround of the Korean War was long overdue. For too many years all the credit (and none of the blame) went to Douglas MacArthur, by far the most overrated Army commander since McClellan.
William F. Mahoney
Albany, New York

I was deeply pleased to see the article about General Ridgway. He was indeed a soldier's general. He treated his soldiers with a fatherly affection and respect, but was never patronizing. We knew this was the highest commander we were ever likely to converse with, but we were inspired and encouraged, not intimidated. I met him on a cold winter day in Seoul, when he arrived to replace the late Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker as commander of the Eighth Army. Ridgway was wearing his trademark grenade and carrying an M-1 rifle. He walked up to me, a private first class, extended a hand and said, "Name's Ridgway. What's yours?" I told him my name, and the next time I saw him he remembered it. I could relate several anecdotes reflecting his fiery dedication to his mission and his unswerving care for the morale and welfare of his troops as individuals.
William J. Opferman
Sacramento, California

Other Gates to Paradise

Arthur Lubow's article on sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti's gilded doors ("The Gates of Paradise") did not point out that the original doors, which stood at the ancient Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, were removed and hidden in a railway tunnel for safekeeping during World War II. After the war, Bruno Bearzi, official caretaker of Florence's artworks, made a mold of the doors. Three replicas have been produced from the mold: one was sold to San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, another went to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Hicksville, New York, and the third replaced the original doors at the Florence Baptistery, which will reside in the nearby Duomo museum (after the doors are reunited with their gilt decorative panels next year).
Jere French
Gulf Breeze, Florida

Save the Corn

Richard Conniff's article about the trade-offs of ethanol and other biofuels ("Who's Fueling Whom?") mentioned the possibility of converting cornstalks into engine fuels. Please keep in mind that this approach, too, has a downside. Cornstalks are needed for long-term soil protection against wind and water erosion and for their organic matter, which maintains soil quality. Uprooting them is unfathomable in this era of knowledgeable agriculture.
John E. Morrison
Unicoi, Tennessee

Against Innovation

I hope my not being enamored of your special issue (37 Under 36: America's Young Innovators) doesn't make me a boorish oaf, but I suggest you mail it instead to the friends and relatives of those who appeared in the issue, not to subscribers who are looking for interesting reading.
John Kerhlikar
Shingle Springs, California

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