Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Regarding Maine on the occasion of its 200th anniversary of statehood, in the Boston Globe

Maine turned 200 this year, but the Bicentennial celebrations were cancelled by the pandemic, with Gov. Mills spending the official birthday, March 15, advising Mainers to lockdown to prevent the spread of the then barely understood coronavirus.

I wrote a six-part series for the Maine Sunday Telegram on statehood's meaning that wrapped up just as Covid-19 spread into the state back in March, but I also wanted to present some key points to an external audience, one in Massachusetts in particular for reasons readers of The Lobster Coast will quickly ascertain. So in this week's Boston Sunday Globe Ideas section, I had this essay on Maine's experience as a colony of a colony, how it shaped our culture and people, and the ways in which the pandemic and other global developments may shake up the postcolonial trajectory my native state has long been on. Hope you enjoy.

This is my first byline in the Globe, but in September I spoke to Ideas staff writer David Sharfenberg about the battle for the national "soul" of the U.S., the topic of my most recent book, Union.

Update, 10/30/20: Bloomberg's Boston bureau has a radio show and podcast, Bloomberg Baystate Business, and hosts Tom Moroney and Joe Shortsleeve kindly had me on the show today to talk about the phenomena described in the Globe piece. My portion starts at 0:50:32.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

UNION named a Best Non-fiction Book of 2020 by the Christian Science Monitor

My thanks to the Christian Science Monitor's book reviewers for naming Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood as a Best Non-Fiction Book of 2020.

The Monitor's review of the book can be found here. It concludes: "The stakes are nothing short of determining how a nation thinks about itself, how it teaches posterity about itself. In “Union,” that battle sprawls out of the narrow confines of academia and embroils the entire country – and the fight is ongoing."

Also pleased to share the list with friend Arial Sabar, who also had a book out this year, and a former source when I was focused on the oceans beat, Caro Safina.

For more on Union, start here.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

COVID-19 continues its surge in Maine, stressing hospitals

Maine is fortunate to be doing better than almost any other state in the U.S. when it comes to containing the pandemic, but that isn't saying much. Over the past week Covid-19 has continued to surge here, with hospitals beginning to sound the alarm that their capacity and staff could be overwhelmed if the public doesn't redouble their efforts to slow the spread of the disease.

I have two recent stories in the Portland Press Herald covering the latest developments. 

The first, from Thursday's paper, looks at the state of capacity at the state's hospitals, which said they were holding their own by converting ordinary medical-surgical beds to ICU units to meet demand, though Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Health Care Medical Center were both beginning to feel stress even then.

The second, from yesterday's print edition, provides an exclusive look at hospital-by-hospital Covid admissions and the trends over time. It shows a steep surge in recent days at MaineMed and record patient levels at most of the state's other major hospitals, including MaineGeneral, SMHC, and CMMC. Details herein.