From our readers

From the Editors. Our third annual feature on America’s best small towns to visit moved hundreds of readers to debate our picks. On Facebook, Jeffrey Doonan took a broader perspective: “I moved from #5 Woods Hole to Istanbul, Turkey, about 25 years ago. It was a great little place, but the world is full of great little places, explore more.”

Blending In
Despite their detractors, the nearly 70,000 Bhutanese who were welcomed by America [“Manchester’s Melting Pot”] do indeed set an example of “the kind of people that Americans like to imagine themselves to be.” I say soften the refugees’ culture shock as they try to preserve the idea of blending happiness with their love of education, ambition and the environment. Many, many thanks for this inspiring story.

Tova Navarra
Middletown, New Jersey

Japanese Americana
How ironic that the Japanese appreciate the high quality of [early 20th-century] American-made garments [“Re-Made in Japan”] when our own country sold out the very workers who produced them. American textile and garment workers were betrayed by government policies and industry. They were told they could be retrained for technology jobs that never materialized. As a result, many good blue-collar workers lost everything. Was it morally worth it to destroy a vibrant American industry that provided solid middle-class jobs to support sweatshop conditions in Central America and elsewhere?

Camille Walkinshaw
Columbus, Georgia

Mystery Solved?
I read the excerpt [“Journey Into the Kingdom of Spirits”] from Carl Hoffman’s book Savage Harvest in your March issue with great interest and some dismay. Milt Machlin first published precisely the same thesis 45 years ago in Argosy magazine and in his remarkable 1972 book, The Search for Michael Rockefeller. Milt’s book, along with 16mm film he shot, became the basis of our award-winning 2010 documentary, “The Search for Michael Rockefeller.” Milt and photographer Malcolm Kirk interviewed in person all of the Dutch missionaries Mr. Hoffman quotes, and most of the other eyewitnesses. Milt’s conclusion was that Michael was killed and probably eaten by three natives of Otsjanep. All this is simply echoed by Mr. Hoffman. Any author in this field should acknowledge Machlin’s groundbreaking, widely published work. Your magazine’s claim that Michael Rockefeller’s fate has remained a mystery for 50 years, “until now,” is pure hyperbole and frankly dishonest.

Fraser C. Heston
Director, “The Search for Michael Rockefeller”
Los angeles, california

Editor’s response:
Milt Machlin did publish a thesis, one that our excerpt notes had been circulating since at least 1962. Carl Hoffman is the first writer to find sufficient evidence to confirm and explain it. That evidence, which was not in Machlin’s book, includes the report filed by Max Lepré, the Dutch government official who led the violent raid on the village of Otsjanep that preceded Michael Rockefeller’s disappearance; the reports filed by the Dutch Catholic priests Cornelius van Kessel and Hubertus von Peij on what Asmat villagers were saying right after Rockefeller’s disappearance; the report filed by the Dutch government investigator Wim van de Waal after his three-month residence in Otsjanep; and documents from Dutch government and Catholic Church officials discussing the non-disclosure of the priests’ and investigator’s information. This new evidence was included in the Smithsonian excerpt. Hoffman discusses Machlin’s work in Savage Harvest.

In “America’s Best Small Towns,” we mistakenly identified the producer of MusicFest in Steamboat Springs. He is John Dickson. John Waldman, whom we quoted, is the promoter for the Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series.

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