The History of Literature #412 – HOL Goes to War (with Elizabeth Samet, Matt Gallagher, and Tom Roston)

In this best-of History of Literature episode, Jacke revisits the topic of war and literature with three guests: Professor Elizabeth Samet (Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point), who teaches literature to military officers in training; Matt Gallagher (Empire City and Youngblood), a veteran who served in Iraq; and Tom Roston (The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five), who places Kurt Vonnegut’s writing in the context of his POW experiences in WWII and his position as an antiwar prophet to the Vietnam generation.

Full episodes are available at:

143 A Soldier’s Heart (with Elizabeth Samet)
Conflict Literature (with Matt Gallagher)
362 Kurt Vonnegut (with Tom Roston)

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The History of Literature #362 – Kurt Vonnegut (with Tom Roston)

362 Kurt Vonnegut (with Tom Roston)

Jacke talks to journalist Tom Roston about his new biography of Kurt Vonnegut, The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse Five. PLUS Jacke reads excerpts from one of Vonnegut’s most famous speeches, the address he gave to Agnes Scott College in 1999. Enjoy!

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History of Literature Episode #137 – Haruki Murakami


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Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) is one of the rare writers who combines literary admiration with widespread appeal. Host Jacke Wilson is joined by lifelong Murakami fan Mike Palindrome to discuss what makes his novels so compelling, so mysterious, and so popular. Works discussed include The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleNorwegian WoodKafka on the Shore, and many others. Special Bonus Quiz: Can you tell the difference between famous quotes by Murakami and YA novelist John Green?

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Writers Laughing: A Jacke Wilson Gallery

Peace on earth, good will to all…and a photo gallery of great writers caught in the act of laughing.  Happy holidays!

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Join us on the History of Literature podcast or at the Jacke Wilson blog for more literary delights.

All image credits available on


Top Ten Writers Laughing: The Very Best!

Okay, we already looked at numbers 10 through 6. Let’s take a look at the top five from our very popular Writers Laughing series. Away we go!

Number 5: Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving


Number 4: Samuel Beckett


Number 3: Flannery O’Connor


Number 2: George Orwell (this was close – he was overtaken on the final day!)


And the number 1 Writers Laughing are…

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir!

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Congratulations, winners! Now everyone, let’s all try to make laughter part of our day today. Come on! We can do it!

Note: Commentary and image credits are on the original links.

Writers Laughing: Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving

Here’s a reminder that life has moments of joy as well as sorrow.



What a great picture. Why do I think that Vonnegut must have said something funny (unexpected and acerbic and witty), and Irving started laughing uncontrollably, and finally Vonnegut joined in because Irving’s laughter was infectious…

Have a great day, everyone! Onward and upward!