If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
Craig Fehrman reviews Keith O’Brien’s Outside Shot, a book which follows the 2009-10 boys’ basketball team at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky. O’Brien’s book is much in the mold of Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, writes Fehrman, in that it’s concerned with a “troubled town, precarious season, political resonance” – but it’s also a book that falters under the legacy of its predecessor.