Reader responses to our July/August issue

From the Editors In our July/August issue, Clive Thompson explored the history of infographics (“How Data Won the West”) by looking at pioneering efforts by Florence Nightingale and others. Readers were quick to suggest their own examples. “My favorite,” wrote Jeff Howard of Houston, “which I have framed on my wall, is that of Charles Joseph Minard’s representation of Napoleon’s march to Moscow in 1812.” Darryl Engle of Chandler, Arizona, said that a “nod to the creator of the periodic table would have been in order. The interplay of columns and rows of gases and metals is beautifully demonstrated in that famous diagram.” Overall, many readers praised the double issue as a blockbuster. “Cover to cover,” said B. Valder of Sisters, Oregon, “this ranks as one of the best issues ever! Variety, photography, depth and personal interest.”

Lethal Lessons

As I read Andrew Roberts’ analysis of General Pershing’s failure to learn from the experience of our Allies (“Battle Scars”), I was reminded of a similar dynamic in the U.S. Civil War. In Grant’s 1864 campaign, he called on the heavy artillery regiments that had served for two years in the forts surrounding Washington but had no combat experience. And in the weeks that culminated in the disaster at Cold Harbor and the failed assault on Petersburg, these brave but inexperienced men suffered staggering losses.

Joe Swain Jr., Carrboro, North Carolina

Life-Saving Measures

I cried all the way through “Anatomy of a Cure.” My younger brother died in 1955 at the age of 5 from leukemia. Years later my mother told me that all they had to treat him with then was cortisone. Dr. Pinkel deserves the Nobel Prize for bringing hope and the possibility of a cure to many families.

Mary Lou Strathmeyer, Salinas, California

In 1973, my only son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We began a six-year battle with this disease. I remember the doctor saying, “We are using the protocols created at St. Jude’s Hospital.” I never knew the hero at St. Jude’s was Dr. Pinkel. I remember every medicine employed, every spinal tap administered, every bone marrow test endured, every IV suffered and every radiation treatment borne. My son is now a well-educated, healthy, married, health care administrator with two beautiful daughters. In 1973 it was difficult to even dream of my son’s survival, and never would I have imagined the joy of one day having granddaughters! Indeed, I owe my survival to Dr. Pinkel.

Kathryn Q. Billings, Jamestown, North Carolina

Devoted to Dahl

When I was growing up, I fell in love with Roald Dahl’s books (“The Fantastic Mr. Dahl”). They were so deliciously anarchistic, so attractive in their subversion that I always had the impression I was putting one over on my mom by reading them. It took me 40 years to figure out that she was the one putting something over on me. Thanks Roald, and thanks Mom.

David Riegler, On Facebook

Losing Louisiana

I know that sea level is rising, but the true fault (“The Drowning”) lies with the state of Louisiana for allowing petroleum companies to destroy the marshes. The Army Corps of Engineers also deserves criticism for altering the Mississippi River.

Sharon Pugh, On Facebook

In Their Own Words

Thank you for bringing the past treatment of Navajo children into the light (“Two Nations”). Some of those same children, along with members of other tribes, went on to become “code talkers,” who used their native languages— the languages that they were forbidden to speak in school—to create codes that were instrumental in winning World War II in the Pacific. Their service to America in spite of their treatment at the hands of the federal government should never be forgotten.

Barbara Allamian, Castle Rock, Colorado

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This article is a selection from the October issue of Smithsonian magazine