Entries by Peter Cates


by Peter Cates Joseph Conrad Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) has recently become my favorite novelist of all, supplanting such favorites as Graham Greene, John Le Carre, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. His combination of slyly understated wit, of a very perceptive awareness of the hearts of darkness in all hu­man­kind and of his own genius level of mastery […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Benjamin Harrison

by Peter Cates Benjamin Harrison The 23rd former President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) was the grandson of the 9th former President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) and great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison (1726-1791), one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. Like his predecessor/successor Grover Cleveland, Harrison was unwaveringly honest. Unlike Cleveland, he was a believer […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Rev. Timothy Dwight

by Peter Cates Rev. Timothy Dwight During the late 1980s to early ’90s, I taught American lit survey classes for the Houston Community College System in the Lone Star State and used the humongous two-volume Harper American Literature anthology, each consisting of 2,500 pages. Being a bit obsessive compulsive curious about anything and everything, I […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Grover Cleveland

by Peter Cates Grover Cleveland The 22nd/24th former President Stephen Grover Cleveland achieved distinction in three ways during his years in the White House: 1. He was the only Democrat to be elected president since James Buchanan’s one term ended in 1861 and would remain so until 1913 when the Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson would […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Margaret Dickson

by Peter Cates Margaret Dickson Lewiston-born writer Margaret Dickson published a 1985 novel, Octavia’s Hill, which follows four generations of a family, and from which a chapter was anthologized in the book, Maine Speaks. The excerpt takes place during the horse and buggy days in the very rural community of Monson, itself north of Dexter […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: President Chester Arthur

by Peter Cates Chester Arthur For me, 21st President Chester Alan Arthur (1830-1886) always gave the impression of being a stuffed shirt prig with his Billy goat sideburns and mustache. But, like his predecessors and, as of 2023, his 25 successors, he was certainly a fascinating individual with a story uni­quely his own. The tag, […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Poet: Richard Aldridge; Composer: Sergei Rachmaninoff; Band Leader: Gene Rodemich; Movie: The Killers

by Peter Cates Richard Aldridge Born in New York City, poet Richard Aldridge (1930-1994) attended summer camp here in Maine most of his childhood and, as an adult, would eventually settle down with his wife in Phippsburg while teaching high school English in Bath. Although his name is new to me, his work became renowned […]


by Peter Cates James Garfield Former 20th President James Abram Garfield (1831-1880) was the last of the Ohio Republican Triumvirate to serve in the White House, following his predecessors Grant and Hayes. Garfield grew up in poverty on a farm and was the youngest of five children, three of whom died before he was born […]