Readers Respond to the January/February Issue

Your feedback on our coverage of the destruction of the Amazon, the first Americans and Maya Angelou

Amazon Adventure

The first thought that came to me while reading “The Road to Ruin?” (January/February 2020) was the arrogance of the modern urban resident. How many individuals living in first-world cities will read about logging in the Amazon and scream that this destruction must stop immediately? They refuse to acknowledge that at one time, all metropolitan areas were untouched by humans and contained trees as old as those in the Amazon.

— WC Kirby | Granite Falls, North Carolina

Eyes to the Skies

The Navigator” (January/February 2020) is a beautifully written, evocative report that brought tears to my eyes and reminded me that war is senseless, that those least responsible for its horrors suffer just as much, if not more, than the perpetrators. Thank you for this glimpse into the bravery of fighting men and their love for those they leave behind.

— Martha Pound Miller | Portland, Oregon

Early Arrivals

The Fertile Shore” (January/February 2020), about the first Americans, was intriguing. The demise of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age was treated simply as a matter of fact. Though the article did touch on the disappearance of ice up to two miles thick, the bouncing back of landmasses and sea level changes, what were the contributing factors? With the current focus on managing climate change, it would seem instructive to explain the retreat of the last ice age. Understanding factors such as volcanic activity, possible shifts in the earth’s rotational axis and solar activity could help keep current events in perspective and inform the debate about the path forward.

— Raymond Germonprez | Omaha, Nebraska

Fighting Superbugs

I wonder how many other readers saw the irony in your marvelous article about antibiotics (“Nature’s Pharmacy,” January/February 2020). We give the Pentagon over $1 trillion per year for things like nuclear weapons that can never be used and planes that don’t work well. Yet we can’t find $2 billion to ensure we have life-saving antibiotics to fight superbugs that are killing many people now, numbers that will increase with each passing year. We need to get our priorities straight.

— Craig Etchison | Fort Ashby, West Virginia

Elegy for a Poet

Immortality is living on in the hearts and minds of those left behind (“Courageous,” January/February 2020). Maya Angelou’s gift was her willingness to open her heart to reveal her suffering. Her courage and that beautiful, great big, loving smile give me hope and determination to sing my own song.

— Deborah Collins | Facebook

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This article is a selection from the March 2020 issue of Smithsonian magazine