History Book – A literary heavyweight, and the Bermuda Triangle


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, November 30th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. 

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Right now, you can send WORLD to three friends for a total of $99—$33 per. So $99 for a full year of WORLD to three friends. Sound, biblical journalism for the people you care most about. 

You’d be giving them a year of WORLD Magazine, plus full access to digital articles and other online content, in addition to the podcasts we already provide at no cost. So make your way to wng.org/cybermonday to share the news with your loved ones this Christmas.

EICHER: Coming up next, the WORLD History Book. This week, a literary heavyweight, an unsolved aviation mystery, and a democratic achievement in Mexico. Here’s WORLD senior correspondent Katie Gaultney.

AUDIO: [SWORD FIGHTING]

MUSIC: [“ONLY FOUR MEN,” PAUL HASLINGER]

KATIE GAULTNEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: This Saturday marks 150 years since the death of French novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas. 

Descended from Afro-Caribbean slaves and French nobility, Dumas was as prolific as he was polarizing in his time. While his work was popular, he had a reputation as a spendthrift, quickly squandering every bit of the profit from his plays and books on his lavish lifestyle. Scholars today believe the married Dumas had as many as 40 mistresses. In a case of art imitating life, Dumas’ dalliances may account for the wandering eye of so many of his main characters.  

CAVIEZEL: May I steal your wife?/ I’m sorry?/ For the waltz… 

That’s Jim Caviezel as the Count of Monte Cristo from a 2002 film adaptation. Dumas’ written work has been made into over 200 films. He has also given us some of literature’s most memorable lines, like this one, delivered by Chris O’Donnell as D’Artagnan in the 1993 adaptation of The Three Musketeers: 

O’DONNELL: All for one… and one for all! 

His impact on the arts has made Dumas a favorite son of France. In 2002, the French government moved his remains to the Pantheon in Paris, where Dumas could rest among other luminaries like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo. After an elaborate parade of Dumas’ casket through the streets of Paris, President Jacques Chirac spoke on the steps of the Pantheon about the author’s legacy. 

AUDIO: [CHIRAC SPEECH]

Chirac says: “Alexandre Dumas: With you, it is our childhood, hours of reading veiled with secrecy, emotions, passion, adventures, the panache, that enters the Pantheon.”

And death didn’t stop Dumas from churning out best sellers. Scholars continue to discover previously unknown works. The most recent was published in 2008. 

Turning now to one of the most famous aviation mysteries in history: The disappearance of Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle—between Miami, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. The group of TBF and TBM Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared 75 years ago this Saturday. 

AUDIO: [1940s AIRCRAFTS IN FLIGHT]

The five planes departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a U.S. Navy overwater navigation training exercise. United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor led the flight. Taylor had more than 2,500 flying hours. So when he radioed that his compasses had failed, but he was sure they were over the Florida Keys, the student pilots followed. The BBC offers this reenactment of the radio communications. 

BBC: FT28, this is Fort Lauderdale, do you read me?/ FT28 to Fort Lauderdale, do you have a fix yet?

But the squadron lost contact with the base, prompting 13 crew members of a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat to search for the missing flight. Tragically, that aircraft also went missing, likely exploding mid-air due to explosive fumes accumulating in its bilge. 

AUDIO: [MID-AIR EXPLOSION]

All told, 27 crew members perished between the two incidents. The wreckage of Flight 19 never surfaced, but Navy investigators believe Lieutenant Taylor wasn’t over the Keys at all. He was likely over the Bahamas, and in trying to course correct, he took the flight farther over the Atlantic Ocean, where the planes would have run out of fuel. 

MUSIC: [HIMNO NACIONAL MEXICANO (MEXICAN NATIONAL ANTHEM)]

The phrase “peaceful transition of power” has been in the news lately following the recent U.S. presidential election. And for Mexico, tomorrow marks 20 years since the first peaceful transfer of power in a free, democratic election to an opposing political party at the executive federal level. That milestone occurred with the inauguration of Vicente Fox Quesada as president of Mexico on December 1st, 2000.

For seven decades, the same political party had been in power. But Fox shook things up, running as a member of an opposing party. Roderic Camp of Claremont McKenna College told CSPAN Fox set himself apart from his opponents in other ways, too. 

CAMP: He is the most animated of the three candidates. He’s a very effective public speaker… He dresses in cowboy boots and jeans and wears a belt with a very demonstrative belt buckle that says “Fox” on it. And he’s very much over six feet tall… 

Fox’s election 20 years ago brought about the end of 71 years of ruling-party domination in Mexico. And, in fact, the three presidents that followed Fox have represented three different political parties. So, while Vicente may have had an unconventional style, the strides he made in Mexican democracy make him look, well, crazy like a fox

MUSIC: [TRADITIONAL MARIACHI MUSIC]

That’s this week’s History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.


(Photo/Public Domain) National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier, A similar flight of five Grumman TBF Avengers.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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