Wednesday, January 04, 2012

"Journalism & Prophecy"


While I was at the Reston Used Book Store (RUBS) in Virginia a week ago, dropping off copies of my collections, I found a first edition of "H.G. Wells - Journalism & Prophecy 1893-1946" an anthology compiled by W. Warren Wagar.

I'd never seen the book before. I took it with me on Amtrak to read on the two-day trip back to Texas.

It didn't last that long. I started reading it Saturday afternoon and finished it Sunday afternoon, in just under 24 hours. That's the closest I've come to reading a book in one sitting since I went straight through "Old Man's War" in 2006.

I didn't fully appreciate what a good journalist Wells was. If anything, he may have been a better journalist than a fiction writer.

Wagar organized Wells' articles in three major sections: Forecasts and Impressions, Portraits, and Visions.

It's fascinating to read how some predictions made by Wells were so accurate, and others were proven wrong by time. For example, relating to World War II, he was totally on target in predicting Italy's role in the war and its relation to Germany. On the other hand, he missed Hitler and Mussolini's demise completely - he wanted them put on trial for war crimes.

His observations on contemporary events are extremely interesting. Some of his economic statements, especially during the Great Depression, remain as pertinent today as ever.

Wells obviously had a fine mind. It's sad that he got so depressed at the end of his life, and he supposed we would blow ourselves all up with atomic bombs (which he predicted and named). But he was old and sick, and we probably shouldn't take the last way we saw him as representative of a mind which was brilliant, creative, and insightful for so many years.

One last note: The 1964 book is surprisingly fragile, the dust cover and pages are trying to crumble on me. It is a Houghton Mifflin book, approximately 450 pages long.

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