Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Living History

Though nothing can take the place of old-fashioned research, it never fails to astonish me what type of arcana a well thought out Google search can produce. Take for example this bit of trivia I found today on Time magazine’s amazing online archive. From a Time piece from August 1, 1932:
Of the 1,500 athletes who had arrived in Los Angeles last week for the Xth Olympic Games, saddest were 69 Brazilians. They had brought with them 50,000 bags of coffee but no money. When they tried to land at Los Angeles, they were unable to pay the head tax of $1 per man. Having no radio, they learned for the first time about the Brazilian revolution. Appalled, the Brazilians set about selling coffee to pay their expenses.
Now the book I’m working on includes absolutely nothing about the price of coffee in Brazil... or Los Angeles, for that matter. But this is the sort of detail that can make a book really live for an author. And if it lives for me, it will live for you.

Research on the X Olympics continues...

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