Several years ago, I read Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. I never reviewed it here on the Margins, though a large sticky note on the inside cover listing a number of thought-provoking questions suggests that I intended to.* As…

Read More

One of the unexpected things I learned during our visit to Nuremberg over the holidays is that the city was the home to the first mass-produced graphite lead pencils, beginning in 1662. Before we visited Nuremberg, I hadn’t given the history of pencils much thought.* In fact, the only piece of pencil history that I…

Read More

Almost exactly four years ago, I started looking for a history podcast or ten that I could love. (I put out the call for suggestions here on the Margins four years and 29 days ago, to be precise.) Since then, I’ve reported back twice on history podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to. (You can find the…

Read More