Good day bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

*** Who doesn’t love stories of treasures lost and found? I do, for sure, and when I read about charities that have been given rare and valuable books it makes me wonder if the donators knew what they were donating. Anyway, the attached story is one such, and gives me yet another reason to want to make a book pilgrimage to England and Scotland.

Rare books left on doorstep in Edinburgh

*** Franklin Roosevelt is often held up by liberals as their vision of the nearly perfect president, just as Ronald Reagan is cited by conservatives as their template for greatness. In FDR’s case one of the biggest stains on his presidency was the charge that he was indifferent to the plight of Europe’s Jews as the Holocaust swept millions of them away. It has been very hard for his defenders to make a case otherwise, but a new book attempts to do just that.

The new book Refugees and Rescue makes the claim that FDR tried, starting in 1938, to allow tens of thousands of German and Austrian refugees to come to the US or Palestine, but that he was thwarted by those who didn’t approve. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller hasn’t read this book so he can’t say how compelling the evidence might be. He can, however, say that, to contradict the rather mountainous evidence against FDR on this issue, the book will have to be pretty convincing.

Did FDR really try to save the Jews?

*** When I first logged onto the internet, when was that? 1993? 1994? It’s been a long, long while. But whenever that long ago universe-changing event occurred, the first message boards that I encountered were on AOL. You paid per minute back then for internet access, AOL charged a monthly fee, but boy, what you got in return! You had instant access to people all over the world who had the same interests as you did. It was all quite grand! And AOL was leading the way. I know that I was posting there in 1997 and am pretty sure the beginning was before that.

In those days everybody was on AOL, including authors and other famous people. The Hardboiled board, a board devoted to Hardboiled PI fiction, featured as one of its posters Anthony Bourdain, whose novel Gone Bamboo, was current. He was just as funny then as now, maybe not quite as confident. But that’s not the point of this entry, which is, in fact, a rambling bash of the idiots running AOL.

See, that board and all of the others I posted on were recently wiped out by the cretins whose task is apparently to destroy AOL once and for all. And, for the record, John Donahoe has nothing to do with it. This is a completely separate group of numbskulls.

Boards that were 12-14 years old, boards that were, in internet terms, historical classics, are now gone forever. And with them went a large chunk of whatever audience AOL had left. Now it’s just another sterile site with nothing in particular to offer. Might as well be Yahoo. Without the traffic, that is. Who makes these decisions? Who sits in an isolated office somewhere and decides that whatever audience your site still has needs to be alienated? I don’t know. Nor do I care. Whoever it is should be fired immediately, but the reality is they will probably get a huge bonus.

There is no requiem for what was lost, no mourning for the glory that was AOL. What a shame. What a damned shame.