Lessons From a Writing Retreat

It was autumn in this pleasant Baltic Sea corner of northeastern Europe. I arrived at the Litinterp guesthouse in Klaipeda, Lithuania in September 2007 with one objective; to spend seven days in relative isolation and emerge with a draft of the book that despite best intentions had not come together over two preceding years.  The venue was perfect.  It was a long three-story house built in … Continue reading Lessons From a Writing Retreat

Cecil Rhodes With His Pants Down

In September 1891 Cecil Rhodes set out from Beira in Portuguese East Africa for the new settlement of Salisbury in Mashonaland 310 miles away. It was an arduous journey through lion country and knoted forests.  There was no road and a rail line was some years away.  Empire builder Rhodes was at the time prime minister of the Cape Province. A year earlier he had dispatched to … Continue reading Cecil Rhodes With His Pants Down

Letter From Berlin: Wealth and Worry

 In 1891 Mark Twain brought his wife and three young daughters to live in Berlin for six months. He wrote of the German capital, “it’s a new city, the newest I have ever seen, the main mass of the city looks as if it had been built last week.”  The same might be said today 75 years after World War II’s fire and fury reduced … Continue reading Letter From Berlin: Wealth and Worry

Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany

When Mark Twain explored the Neckar in the summer of 1879, he extolled its soft, peaceful beauty. The Neckar, he wrote, was “gentle, gliding, smooth and noiseless.”  One hundred 40 summers later the Neckar remains serene, a refuge from a chaotic world. We were nine cyclists, all in our 70s, from Germany, France and America. We began in Mannheim close to where the Neckar dissolves … Continue reading Cycling the Neckar in Southern Germany