Readers Discuss Our July/August 2018 Issue

Feedback from our readers

(Smithsonian Magazine)
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Readers were swept away by “The Mount Everest of Surfing,” Paul Theroux’s account of the adventurers who take on giant waves off the coast of Portugal. “I held my breath while reading it,” Shauneen Henrick of New York wrote. While Daniel Hagerman “never got into surfing,” he said, “the exhilaration from even attempting this would be something else.” Another wild tale in the July/August issue, “The Counterfeit Queen of Soul,” about the 1969 kidnapping of a woman forced to perform as Aretha Franklin, also left readers spellbound. “What a roller coaster ride for Vickie Jones and her family!” wrote D. Sitko of Austin, Texas. Others rejoiced in the hoopla around the origins of a 60-year-old circular plastic toy. “Who knew ‘hooping’ could be so controversial?” Diana Whitlock said on Facebook. “It awakens sensuality and clears the mind? I’m in!”

Templars Today

Talk of “crusades” and “conquests” in your article about our organization is highly charged, inflammatory, erroneous and damaging to our diplomatic work at the United Nations and elsewhere. Dan Jones’ article was a much more superficial account than expected. Engrossed in charitable, humanitarian, advocacy, conciliation and diplomatic endeavors, we disburse significant sums and greatly value our strong relationships with other faith communities. These are imperative to aiding minority faith groups and establishing respectful coexistence throughout the Holy Land and Middle East.

Clayton M. Kemmerer, Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem | Dayton, Tennessee

It’s disappointing that an otherwise excellent issue included a thinly veiled advertisement for an exclusive social club. I didn’t see evidence of a true connection between this club and the 12th-century Knights Templar, and the SMOTJ appears to just be a way for old men to pretend to be knights and enjoy the ego boost of being in a “prestigious order.” It would be better to investigate what philanthropy the club actually engages in and its effectiveness.

Walter Kicinski | Murphy, Texas

The Dispossessed

The photo collages in “The Resistance” brought me to tears. I hope the artworks open the eyes of those who demonize such human beings, whose only motivation is to survive as free individuals without fear.

Melissa Estes | Ashburn, Virginia

I would appreciate an even longer article on the kind, generous villagers of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (“The Rescuers”). As Margaret Paxson stated, “We need to learn from them.” I will reread this whenever I’m inclined to despair in these often disheartening times.

Emily Howland | Godfrey, Illinois

The Spanish War

The Valley of the Fallen, built to honor the memory of one of history’s most wicked dictators, should be torn down (“The Battle to Remember”). All people buried there should be reinterred, but Franco’s unholy remains should be mixed in with the rubble of this evil structure.

John Bridges | Quincy, Illinois

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