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Book News: 'Winnie-The-Pooh' Author Wrote WWI Propaganda

British author A.A. Milne looks positively Bond-esque in this photo from 1952.
Associated Press
British author A.A. Milne looks positively Bond-esque in this photo from 1952.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Winnie-the-Pooh author and prominent pacifist A.A. Milne secretly wrote propaganda during World War I for MI7b, a now-defunct arm of British military intelligence services, according to recently discovered documents. Evidence of MI7b's activities was largely destroyed, but Capt. James Lloyd took home a number of secret files, which were found by his great nephew Jeremy Arter. The papers show that Milne and some 20 other literary names of the time, such as Cecil Street and Patrick MacGill, had been recruited by the government to write articles praising the British and denigrating the Germans.
  • In The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky gallantly explains that for men, some female authors are, in fact, worth reading: "And yet, acknowledging that female writers have something particular to offer to male readers seems like it's worth doing for several reasons." Perhaps he can consult this helpful list of female writers, which NPR's Lynn Neary wrote about this week.
  • The Vault, Slate's history blog, uncovers a 1960 letter that Slaughterhouse-Five author Kurt Vonnegut wrote to then-Sen. John F. Kennedy offering to volunteer for his presidential campaign: "I am thirty-eight, have been a freelance for ten years. I've published two novels, and am a regular contributor of fiction to The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, and so on. On occasion, I write pretty well."
  • If you feel so inclined, you can now peruse F. Scott Fitzgerald's financial records online, thanks to a project at the University of South Carolina.
  • The Associated Press' Jon Gambrell interviews Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "I'm writing about where I care about and I deeply, deeply care about Nigeria. Nigeria is the country that most infuriates me and it is the country I love the most."
  • Journalist (and professional provocateur) Michael Wolff sounded a death knell for The New York Times Book Review in a much-discussed column in The Guardian: "There is an untested assumption ... that the NYTBR is quite a vital and even necessary part of the Times. ... That day is gone. Only the awkwardness of admitting otherwise maintains the assumption of a necessary Book Review."
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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