From the Editors Readers of our December issue were surprised by the commercial origins of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. While some were disappointed to learn he was “just an advertising gimmick” for Montgomery Ward, others shared fond memories: “I love Rudolph, he was my first image of adversity and acceptance,” Rebecca Trocki wrote on Facebook. Other readers were awed by Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers’ magnificent photos of lion-tailed macaques—but saddened by the threats the animals face. “Progress as we know it provides nothing but devastation for all creatures of the earth,” Kathy Fedewa noted on Facebook. Paul Van Beek agreed: “Things like this make me realize how important conservation is in the world.”
Sand Dune Mystery
Your very detailed story [“The Mystery of Mount Baldy”] had an interesting and thought-provoking quote at the end: “the eye only sees what the mind can comprehend.” God bless the family, rescue workers and investigators. Wonderful they did not give up the search for the boy. It’s also great they’re not giving up on search for the root cause, which may help prevent recurrence.
Tragedy on the Plains
America has never been perfect. We cannot learn if the dark side of our history [“Massacre at Sand Creek”] is ignored and hidden. We can only become better as a nation if we know of our past atrocities and learn to not repeat them.
Technology and King Tut
With regard to the extremely well-researched Tutankhamun story [“The Strange Afterlife of King Tut”], I would like to report that Zahi Hawass, together with Sahar Selim, is about to publish a book on his work on the royal mummies, including the CT scans and the detailed results of the DNA investigations. This material will surely change our understanding of these mummies, in terms of their mummification technology, health, and life histories. When I was interviewed for the story, I did not know the details of this publication, and I am delighted that the academic community, and others, will now have access to this important data. The publication of the CT scans will allow for independent analyses of ancient Egyptian royalty.
Professor of Egyptology
American University in Cairo
I think the U.S. [in the 1920s] was going through an incredible amount of change on so many fronts (industrial, social, expansion, transportation, etc.), more than any other period in its history, so it makes sense that artists like Thomas Hart Benton [“Raw Material”] launched themselves into corners of the country unfamiliar to them to record the narratives at their roots. And we should be glad that they did, because they were also inadvertently recording visual history for us, representational enough to see the facts but also abstract enough to leave things up to our own interpretations.
A number of readers wrote in to dispute our characterization of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with an overall length of 13,700 feet, as the longest suspension bridge in the Americas [American Icon, November], pointing out that Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 feet from end to end. Suspension bridges, however, are typically ranked by the span between the towers. For the Mackinac, that distance is 3,800 feet, or 460 feet less than the Verrazano-Narrows.