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It’s as hard to write a page-turner as it is to write fiction that brings fresh perspective and meaning to the world. Achieving both in a single work is a feat accomplished by only the best of writers—but the 2010s produced multiple works that will go down in history as propulsive and deep, moving and timeless.
Ten in particular stand out: Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad and George Saunders’ Tenth of December predicted the near future with eerie precision. Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing and Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys mined the recent past to devastating effect. The most imaginative and absorbing fiction of the decade drew us in and made us reflect on ourselves—where we have been, and where we must go.
Here are TIME’s picks for the 10 best fiction books of the 2010s, in order of publication year. Also read TIME’s list of the best nonfiction books of the decade.
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (2010)
Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad feels even more significant now than it did when it was first published nearly a decade ago. The book’s mold-breaking structure, which switches between different characters with each chapter, has become a favorite trick of modern novelists. But it’s Egan’s prescience about technology that has truly stood the test of time. One memorable chapter is written entirely as a PowerPoint presentation delivered by a daughter about her family, a demonstration of the way in which technology filters personal stories. She also posits a future in which toddlers become social media influencers and steer pop culture, a prediction that in the last several years has become a reality. But the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has proven to be more than just a formal accomplishment and a bellwether of technological trends. It also captures something timeless: how aging, and the ways we attempt to cope with it, can wreak havoc on human connection.
Buy now: A Visit From the Goon Squad
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante (2011)
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (2012)
Author Gillian Flynn didn’t invent the unreliable narrator. But before Gone Girl, readers had never met a character quite like Amy Dunne: provocative, profane, mercurial and fully capable of delivering a monologue (the infamous “cool girl” speech) for the ages. It’s a lot easier to measure the impact of Gone Girl now than it was in 2012. The novel’s famous twist, in which it’s revealed that neither Amy or her husband Nick are what they seem, made the story hard for critics to parse when it was released. But since then, Gone Girl has defined a generation’s worth of mystery novels and spawned countless copycats—many with “girl” or “wife” in the title. Unlike many of its imitators, Gone Girl seriously reckons with complicated questions about victimhood, femininity and marriage, set against the straining backdrop of the Great Recession. The qualities of a good thriller—crackling prose, a palpable sense of dread, sharply-drawn characters—are all present in Gone Girl. But Flynn elevates the novel above pulpy cliches, rendering a story that’s both a sharp feminist critique and an engaging literary work.
Buy now: Gone Girl
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)
A literary prodigy who published her first book, Purple Hibiscus, at age 25, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie cemented her place as one of her generation’s greatest novelists with Americanah. Its protagonist Ifemelu, like the author, is a young writer who travels from her native Nigeria to the U.S. to pursue an elite education—and learns what it means to be a black woman in a country built on white supremacy. Intertwined with her story is that of her high school boyfriend Obinze, whose failed attempt to join her puts him on a darker, more dangerous path in England. The question of whether each is better off at home or abroad hangs over their experiences across three continents in what is both a page-turner and a novel of ideas, a gimlet-eyed analysis of blackness in America and a warm, witty coming-of-age tale about finding your place in a world that just keeps getting bigger. Americanah stood out in a decade when art that probed identity in general and race relations in particular helped define the terms of a rightfully impassioned cultural conversation.
Buy now: Americanah
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (2013)
Ursula Todd dies over and over again in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life—from falling off a roof, from drowning, from succumbing to the flu. But the deaths are just a device: this is a book about living, and above all, finding new ways to do it until you finally get it right. Atkinson made her name as a mystery writer, but Life After Life defies genre. The novel spans more than half a century, and Atkinson’s shifts in time deepen her storytelling, allowing readers to experience the effects of the sprawling cast of characters’ choices—a marriage abandoned or saved, a soldier who survives or perishes. It’s also a defining account of wartime London, as Ursula experiences the devastation of the Blitz from various perspectives, highlighting the senselessness of bombing raids. The story of her multiple lives is both moving and lighthearted, filled with comic asides and evocative language about life’s many joys and sorrows. Despite the obvious tragedy, Ursula’s unconventional existence is ultimately affirming, as she reminds us that “we should try and do our best,” even as we face our own mortality.
Buy now: Life After Life
Tenth of December, George Saunders (2013)
Great writers rarely earn their place in history through short stories. Among the exceptions are Poe, Chekhov, Borges, Munro—and, since the publication of his fourth collection Tenth of December in 2013, George Saunders. In 10 immersive fictions that felt current at the time but reveal even more clairvoyance six years on, the longtime Syracuse professor stirs reality and surrealism into an intoxicating cocktail, mixing sci-fi concepts, human emotion and biting humor. “The Semplica Girl Diaries” imagines a world where girls from developing nations are brought to America to serve as living lawn decor. “Escape From Spiderhead” takes place at a futuristic prison, where inmates are used as test subjects for drugs designed to make them fall in and out of love. Each of these darkly comic tales cuts to the quick, underpinned by an urgent moral consciousness and well-justified anxiety about what happens when technology starts to overtake humanity. In a tribute for 2013’s TIME 100, Mary Karr called Saunders “the best short-story writer in English.” Since then, he has inspired many imitators, but no equal.
Buy now: Tenth of December
The Sellout, Paul Beatty (2015)
The plot is absurd: narrator and protagonist Bonbon is a quality-obsessed farmer in Dickens, Calif., a primarily African-American and Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles. Formerly a thriving city, Dickens’ decline has led to its demotion to an unmarked neighborhood, and the narrative is primarily driven by Bonbon’s attempt, along with his slave Hominy, to save Dickens from further dissolution by re-segregating the local high school. As with all great absurdist and satirical literature, the Man Booker Prize winner is hilarious, not for the sake of laughs, but in the service of delivering scathing truths about the world. Paul Beatty’s sentences burn with the heat and density of a neutron star, thick with keen social observation, illuminating contemporary and historical references, deeply felt rage against and love for life in 21st-century America and, more than anything else, the sort of honed-edge humor that makes you laugh but also want to cry.
Buy now: The Sellout
Sing, Unburied Sing, Jesmyn Ward (2017)
Few authors have had a more impressive run in the 2010s than Jesmyn Ward. Raised in Mississippi and committed to documenting the unacceptable realities of black life in the South, Ward won the National Book Award for her second novel, 2011’s Hurricane Katrina meditation Salvage the Bones. Two years later, she published Men We Reaped, a wrenching memoir tracing the deaths of five young black men who played indelible roles in her life. The capstone to these achievements was 2017’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, which made Ward the first woman to win two National Book Awards for fiction. A lyrical ghost story of a novel, Sing follows a fragile, drug-abusing black woman named Leonie on a road trip with her two children to bring the kids’ white father home from prison. As that seemingly straightforward journey grows ever more arduous, the book moves fluidly between the present and the past, gradually uncovering the race-related trauma that has shaped this interracial family.
Buy now: Sing, Unburied, Sing
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (2017)
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead (2019)
Colson Whitehead is a consummate storyteller, and in The Nickel Boys he wields his mastery over character and narrative in service of dramatizing the American South’s Jim Crow years to piercing effect. His brilliant 2016 novel, The Underground Railroad, won both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, only the sixth ever to do so—but The Nickel Boys is arguably even more powerful. Perhaps it’s the book’s proximity to present-day circumstances in the U.S. Reading it in a world just a generation removed from the traumas of Jim Crow requires engaging with the harrowing experiences of the characters, boys at a Florida reform school, not as the unfortunate outcome of some unknown, antediluvian society but as true to our own. “A piece of art really works when you see yourself in the main characters and you see a glimpse of yourself in the villains,” Whitehead told TIME this year for a cover story. “You see yourself in the minor and major characters where, but for a quirk of fate, you could be in there with them—that could be growing up as an African-American male in America.”
Buy now: The Nickel Boys
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Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first episode of the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
The Star Wars saga has always been full of twists and turns, from Darth Vader’s “I am your father” reveal in Empire Strikes Back to Kylo Ren’s decision to kill Snoke in The Last Jedi. So perhaps we should have expected the first live-action Star Wars TV series to surprise us. Still, The Mandalorian, which dropped on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ on Tuesday, took a direction that few critics or fans could have expected.
The titular Mandalorian (played by Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal) seems to have few moral qualms when we meet him at the beginning of the first episode. He operates at the edges of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire. (The Mandalorian is set shortly after Return of the Jedi.) The Mandalorian freezes his bounties in carbonite — just as bad guy Jabba once did to Han Solo. And he accepts a sketchy assignment, in exchange for high pay, from a man who presumably is allied with what remains of the Empire leadership, since he is surrounded by Storm Troopers.
Werner Herzog plays the unnamed man who offers our Mandalorian the lucrative job and provides him with scant information about the target: a geolocation and one fact: the target is 50 years old. The Mandalorian arrives at the location in question and finds that an assassin droid has also been commissioned to kill the same target. The two team up to take out dozens of aliens fighting to protect the target. But when they finally reach their mark, they make a startling discovery: The target is actually a baby of Yoda’s species, lying in a cradle. And it’s adorable.
Our Mandalorian turns from anti-hero to hero in one quick moment, shooting the assassin droid in order to save the baby. This decision isn’t all that shocking. In the Star Wars universe, every anti-hero — from Han Solo, who shot first, to Cassian Andor, who did bad things for a good cause — usually turns out to be a traditional, noble softie. We see in flashbacks earlier in the episode that the Mandalorian’s own parents were killed, after which he was left to fend for himself. So of course he would save another orphan.
It’s the baby that’s the true surprise. Dubbing this alien “a baby Yoda,” as much of the internet did on Tuesday, isn’t quite accurate, since Yoda is the name of a specific character, not a species. And Yoda dies in Return of the Jedi, before The Mandalorian takes place. We know little about Yoda’s species — not even the name of his people. But we can presume, because Yoda lived to be 900 years old, that the species ages more slowly than humans: To a 900-year-old Yoda, a 50-year-old alien of his species would, indeed, be a young babe.
We have met one other alien of Yoda’s species in the Star Wars universe: A female alien named Yaddle, who appeared on the Jedi council in the prequel movies. Yaddle was a badass. According to Wookieepedia, she was training to be a Jedi when she was captured, imprisoned and tortured. Her captors eventually forgot about her and left her in a pit for decades. She survived using the Force, fought off a beast using only a stick and eventually escaped.
When she returned home, most of the Jedi Council believed she did not need additional training — since, you know, she survived for years on literally no food — but Yoda thought she was too young. Yoda eventually backed down from this stance, which clearly had as much to do with her sex as her age, and she became a member of the council. She eventually died by sacrificing her own life to save the entire planet of Mawan.
Both Yaddle and Yoda are dead by the time The Mandalorian takes place, which means that this baby could be the last remaining member of their species. It’s unclear as of yet why the Empire wants this baby, but we can venture a few guesses. When the Mandalorian meets Herzog’s character about the bounty, he also meets an over-eager scientist who probably wants to conduct experiments on the alien child. Given that both Yaddle and Yoda were powerful Jedi, it’s also possible that this baby is Force-sensitive, and thus poses a great threat to the Empire.
We don’t hear about any of Yoda’s kin in the new Star Wars movies, so it’s unclear what this baby’s ultimate fate will be. Though perhaps a grown-up version will still show up in Rise of Skywalker, which will hit theaters in December. In the meantime, we will get to watch the fallout of the Mandalorian’s decision to sacrifice a big payday, and possibly his own safety, to save this baby.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Nov 2019 | 12:17 pm
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Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has been very vocal about his ongoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and in response, fans are being equally transparent and their support for the beloved host.
On Monday night’s show, one contestant used his “Final Jeopardy” answer to show his appreciation for Trebek.
Instead of writing an answer to the question on Monday night’s “Tournament of Champions” game, contestant Dhruv Gaur wrote “We love you, Alex!” which appeared on the front of his podium. When Trebek read the message, he began to choke up at the sweet message. “That”s very kind of you,” Trebek said, clearly emotional. “Thank you.” The moment was shared on Twitter by the show:
Trebek, who has hosted the quiz show since 1984, announced his diagnosis in March of this year in a video to fans. At the time he said that the cancer has a “low survival rate” but that he would beat it. He appeared to be doing well, returning to host the show just months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, which appeared to put his cancer into remission.
However, months later the cancer returned. Trebek announced in early October that he had begun another round of chemotherapy. “I’m not afraid of dying,” Trebek said after announcing the return of the disease. “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life… if it happens, why should I be afraid of that?”
It’s clear that fans are eager to show their support.
Alex is a legend and such a professional. Finishes the show like a boss after an amazing moment.
— Kevin Martin (@KevinRobMartin) November 12, 2019
The greatest game show host ever
Who is Alex Trebek?
— 305YangGanger 🧢 (@305YangGanger) November 12, 2019
Waterworks right now. Alex is a Legend!
— Ivy Rodriguez (@ivyikerd) November 12, 2019
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Nov 2019 | 11:22 am
Thanks to the convoluted order in which the Star Wars movies have been released over the past 40-plus years, the timeline of events in the galaxy far, far away can be somewhat confusing. So with the launch of The Mandalorian, Disney’s new Star Wars TV series now available on the Disney+ streaming service, TIME is here to break down exactly how the show fits into the larger Star Wars timeline.
What is The Mandalorian about?
The Mandalorian stars Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal as a bounty hunter who hails from the planet Mandalor. In the tradition of his bounty hunter predecessors Jango and Boba Fett, the unnamed Mandalorian is a helmeted “lone gunfighter” who wears the traditional armor of his homeland. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. While fan favorite Boba Fett was a clone raised by Jango who worked primarily for Jabba the Hutt during the Galactic Empire’s tyrannical rule, the Mandalorian operates in the chaotic outer reaches of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire.
“It’s like after the Roman Empire falls, or when you don’t have a centralized shogun in Japan — and, of course, the Old West, when there wasn’t any government in the areas that had not yet been settled,” showrunner Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Lion King) told Entertainment Weekly.
When does The Mandalorian take place?
That’s where the series’ place in the Star Wars timeline comes into play. Favreau has said that The Mandalorian is set five years after the fall of the Empire in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) and 25 years before the rise of the First Order, the authoritarian regime that is firmly in control of the galaxy when Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) begins.
In terms of Star Wars years, Return of the Jedi is set in 4 ABY (after the Battle of Yavin) and The Force Awakens is set in 34 ABY, which means The Mandalorian takes place around 9 ABY. This is a period of time when the New Republic, the democratic government formed by the Rebel Alliance following their victory over the Empire, has only a tenuous hold on the galaxy — especially its lawless outskirts.
According to Favreau, The Mandalorian will explore some of the roots of the First Order. “You come in on Episode VII, [the First Order are] not just starting out. They’re pretty far along,” he told EW. “So somehow, things weren’t necessarily managed as well as they could have been if [the galaxy] ended up in hot water again like that.”
The Mandalorian also stars Gina Carano as Rebel Shock Trooper-turned-mercenary Cara Dune, Carl Weathers as bounty hunter guild leader Greef Carga, Giancarlo Esposito as former Imperial governor Moff Gideon and Taika Waititi as the voice of assassin droid IG-11.
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Many of the best nonfiction books of the decade tap into the lives of individuals to speak to universal human experiences — those of grief and recovery, hubris and failure, dreams and disappointments. Some, in their intimate specificity, open doors to worlds that only few have seen. All employ dazzling prose to draw readers further into their insights. And taken together, they reflect a decade’s worth of brilliant successes in locating unassailable truths: those to which we’ve been willfully blind, those we’ve too long feared facing and those we didn’t know were waiting to be discovered.
Here are TIME’s picks for the 10 best nonfiction books of the 2010s, in order of publication year.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson (2010)
In this epic yet intimate history, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of one of the most significant migrations in American history — when millions of African-Americans left the South for the North, heading to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. In focusing on the stories of three individuals, each on their own difficult journey, Wilkerson offers a history that reads and feels like a novel yet speaks to deep, abiding truths about thousands of migrants’ painful experiences of racism, violence and the struggle to succeed against tremendous odds. The Warmth of Other Suns is a profoundly moving book about hope and vision, and what happens when some people determine that they deserve a better life. Wilkerson’s depiction of the quest to reap the full promise of America resonates just as strongly nearly 10 years later.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)
It takes a real boldness and originality to write a “biography” of a disease as pernicious and difficult to define as cancer. We all know it and hate it, but thanks to oncologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Siddhartha Mukherjee’s exceptional book, we can also begin to understand it. From the disease’s earliest origins to the forefront of the modern fight against it, Mukherjee charts the long, twisted story of humankind’s war with cancer — while reminding us that it’s one we can never win, that we are forever entwined with this disease. A model of meticulous science and elegant writing, Mukherjee’s book is ultimately nothing less than a history of humanity.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo (2012)
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed (2012)
In the early 1990s, Cheryl Strayed watched her life fall apart. Her mother died of cancer, leaving the family fragmented. She started using heroin. Her first marriage ended. As she frames it in her 2012 breakthrough memoir Wild, “I was 26 and an orphan.” Having already endured a lifetime’s worth of pain, one thing she did have going for her was her youth. So she seized that advantage, embarking on a solo hike from California to Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail. Constantly testing her physical and mental limits, the adventure plucked Strayed out of a downward spiral and gave her the strength to grow into the author and advice guru she has since become. Her adventure provided a literal roadmap to transformation for women who feel unmoored. The book crossed over from best-selling memoir to self-help phenomenon, as well as a hit movie starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon. Yet, after so much hype, what remains startling about the book is the candor and insight embedded in Strayed’s forceful prose, which — like her journey itself — sublimate loneliness, sorrow and regret into something transcendent.
Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala (2013)
The first pages of Sonali Deraniyagala’s memoir read like a bonafide horror novel. And how could they not? The economist, who lived in London at the time, was vacationing with her family off the Sri Lankan shore when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit. About a quarter of a million people were killed — and among the victims were Deraniyagala’s parents, husband and two young sons. Deraniyagala managed to survive by hanging onto a tree branch. The magnitude of such a tragedy may seem unfathomable, but Deraniyagala renders it in such searing detail that the pain of losing the most important people in her life in an instant is tangible. Moving from the immediate aftermath of the trauma to the years that followed, she invites readers inside her tormented brain. The story is bruising, but the power of Wave is in its intimate description of how to move forward, even if you can never move on.
Buy now: Wave
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
“In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me, which takes the form of a letter to his son. Throughout the book, Coates illustrates how black bodies have been discarded and destroyed at every turn in American history, from centuries of slavery to Jim Crow lynchings to the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Coates’ writing is also intensely personal, meditating on the fear instilled in him during his bleak Baltimore upbringing and the fury and hopelessness he felt after his close friend, Prince Jones, was killed by a police officer. The book was a bestseller, won the National Book Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. But more importantly, Between the World and Me opened up a national dialogue about the country’s mythology, forcing an uncomfortable and necessary reassessment of the American dream.
Buy now: Between the World and Me
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond (2016)
What does it mean to be forced out of your home? For millions of Americans, Matthew Desmond shows in his eye-opening, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, that is a question that must be answered far too frequently. Desmond, a sociologist, follows eight families in Milwaukee as they navigate paltry paychecpks, court dates and paperwork in the fight to keep their homes, and he also shows the struggle of landlords who are just trying to keep their properties filled with paying renters. Evicted is a deeply empathetic story of a housing system gone wrong and an examination of how its failures bleed into every other aspect of life, from education to nutrition. In a decade when the country came to further recognize the limits of the American Dream, few books so compellingly used deep reporting to deliver a cry for new policies to provide that most basic necessity: a roof over everyone’s head.
The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli (2018)
The peculiarities of time are not new to our era, but it still can be hard to avoid the feeling that the world today is especially defined by that inescapable rush forward. Even so, “the nature of time is perhaps the greatest remaining mystery,” theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli writes in The Order of Time. Rovelli isn’t shy about approaching a great mystery, or about bringing others along for the ride. The scientist’s enlightening follow-up to his bestselling Seven Brief Lessons on Physics replicates the mind-opening feeling of a great university lecture — the pause in the world while the brain races ahead, the student’s connection with the teacher, the click of understanding. As translated from Italian by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell, this trim volume gives poetic voice to the common human experience of moving through time, while simultaneously leaving the reader much more equipped to understand how exactly that happens. Using Smurfs to illustrate physics diagrams but also opening chapters with epigraphs from Horace, it renders complicated theories not just comprehensible, but meaningful, too. The Order of Time is a resounding affirmation of the humanity behind science.
Buy now: The Order of Time
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, John Carreyrou (2018)
John Carreyrou’s masterclass in investigative reporting might also be the best thriller of the decade. It’s the gripping tale of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, once hailed as “the next Steve Jobs,” and her now-defunct company Theranos, which claimed to have developed game-changing blood-testing technology but was in fact running a giant scam on its investors and customers. In 2015, Forbes named Holmes America’s Richest Self-Made Woman, with a net worth of $4.5 billion. That same year, Carreyrou, working on an insider tip, published the first article to question the validity of Theranos’ “science.” The house of cards came tumbling down from there. In Bad Blood, Carreyrou, a veteran reporter with the Wall Street Journal, delivers a complete narrative, one that would be impossible to glean from reading incremental reporting alone. He takes readers from A to Z in a disturbing and fascinating tale that involves such characters as then-Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, future U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Oscar-winning director Errol Morris and Silicon Valley investment guru Marc Andreessen. What’s more, Bad Blood’s quality of narrative intrigue, tension and character development rivals the great cloak-and-dagger stories in the canon.
These Truths: A History of the United States, Jill Lepore (2018)
In recent decades, history writing has tended to go narrow, focusing on slices of the past — but Jill Lepore goes deep and wide in These Truths, her nuanced exploration of the history of the United States. Written in a moment of political turmoil, the acclaimed historian focuses on America’s core ideas and their contradictions — from free speech and its suppression, to liberty and slavery, and economic expansion and deprivation — that have animated the country from its founding. While bringing a fresh eye to well-covered events of the past, Lepore’s is also the first major popular history to bring our story right up to the present, incorporating everything from the triumphs of the gay rights movement to the ugly fissures of the 2016 presidential election. It’s exactly the kind of history that readers need today to understand the key struggles that have defined the United States — and to recognize that our history is always present.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 11 Nov 2019 | 4:33 pm
On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver wants to have a word about lawsuits. You know, lawsuits, “the reason that the sentence ‘Greta Thunberg allegedly killed Jeffrey Epstein’ has the word ‘allegedly‘ in it,” the comedian explained.
The reason lawsuits were on Oliver’s mind is because the suit coal tycoon Bob Murray had filed against him had been dropped, and according to Oliver, “It’s a crazy story.” As you may recall, Murray had sued Last Week Tonight over a 2017 segment in which they joked that he looked like “a geriatric Dr. Evil” — “which we did and he does,” Oliver doubled down — and that the show arranged “for a staff member to dress up in a squirrel costume and deliver the message, ‘Eat sh**, Bob,‘” which they also did.
In addition to seeking a giant sum of money, the lawsuit also sought a gag order to prevent the network from rebroadcasting the show or having the episode available online. The case was initially dismissed, but Murray appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court. In a surprise twist, one of the judges set to hear the case was Allen Loughry, whom Oliver happened to have skewered in a 2015 episode of his show. But luckily for Oliver, Loughry, along with three other state Supreme Court justices, were impeached over inappropriate spending and never heard the case. Murray later offered to drop the suit, which Oliver notes was just around the same time that Murray’s coal company, Murray Energy, was reorganizing into bankruptcy. Although the suit was dropped, Oliver noted that the lawsuit ended up costing over $200,000 in legal fees and resulted in a tripling of the show’s libel insurance premiums.
Oliver told the audience that he believes “winning the case was never really [Murray’s] goal.” Instead, it was a so-called SLAPP suit, with SLAPP being an acronym for a “strategic lawsuit against public participation;” in other words, a lawsuit intended to punish and intimidate critics. “The whole point is to put the defendant through a difficult, painful experience,” Oliver said. Such suits can be used as a scare tactic to silence journalists as well as citizen activists.
SLAPP suits are a scourge, according to Oliver, so 30 states have anti-SLAPP laws that require plaintiffs to justify their claims early on, and if they can’t, suits are dropped and defendants can be awarded attorneys’ fees. “Unfortunately, 20 states don’t have those laws,” Oliver said, including West Virginia, which is where Murray sued Oliver, despite the fact that neither of them live there. “Lawsuits like his make people think twice before reporting on his business or pointing things out like the fact that Bob Murray’s general facial expression answers the question, ‘What would it look like if an egg was mentally undressing you?” Oliver joked.
As the Last Week Tonight team was researching Murray again, they uncovered what they believe are serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Murray. Murray denies the allegations, and Oliver admits that by airing them Murray will most likely sue them again, but they felt it was in the public interest to do it anyway.
“Here we go again,” said Oliver. “It is yet another Bob Murray attempt to bully people into silence and he has been doing this for decades. I will stand behind our first piece and I will stand behind this one.”
Since Murray was most likely already going to sue the show, Oliver decided to go out in a blaze of glory. Specifically, with an outrageously bawdy, hilarious song filled with lewd jibes at the coal boss. And yes, there was a giant squirrel involved once again.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 11 Nov 2019 | 7:29 am
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 11 Nov 2019 | 5:38 am
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 11 Nov 2019 | 1:59 am
A massive mural of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg will debut next week in central San Francisco, overlooking passers-by on Mason Street near Union Square.
The 60-ft.-tall and 30-ft.-wide mural is by Cobre, an Argentinian artist who also painted the mural of late actor Robin Williams in San Francisco, which has since been demolished. The muralist is known for his hyper-realistic portraits.
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Cobre tells TIME that the project of Thunberg’s mural began about a year ago when environmental non-profit One Atmosphere approached him after seeing the mural of Williams.
One Atmosphere helped Cobre get permission for the wall for the Thunberg mural and covered the expenses of his painting materials. Cobre is donating his time to complete the piece. It will debut on Tuesday, Nov. 12, after 10 days of painting.
Cobre tells TIME he hopes the image of Thunberg will bring attention to the crisis of climate change.
“I think It’s a very important mission to try to awake some citizens that they are wasting a lot of energy and resources for no reason, and I think it’s very important to try to help in a way,” he says. “People need to know about these things.”
Thunberg rose to prominence after striking from school in 2018 to demand action on climate change in her home country of Sweden. The 16-year-old has since inspired millions around the world to protest inaction on global warming.
“I usually don’t paint political stuff, because it kind of gives you people who will love it and people who will hate it,” Cobre tells TIME. “But this one I think was really important.”
Cobre says most people have responded positively to the mural. Some have messaged him negative comments on Instagram, but he says he does mind the criticism.
“If 95% people are going to like it, then my job is well done,” he explains. “Haters gonna hate.”
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 9 Nov 2019 | 12:41 pm
This week, FKA twigs goes deep — and outdoes herself — on her experimental, wide-ranging, soul-searching new album Magdalene. Emotional Oranges release their second EP, The Juice Vol. II, a vibey pop-R&B project. Lucy Dacus completes her cycle of holiday song releases with “Fool’s Gold,” an original track that deals in the bittersweetness of New Year’s Eve. Doja Cat follows up the viral “Mooo!” with the bubbly “Cyber Sex.” And Johnny Utah tries on surf-rock for size in “4Tounce.”
“mary magdalene,” FKA twigs
It starts with what sounds like wind chimes: delicate, off-kilter plinkings that give way to an eerie high-pitched buzz. And then her voice comes in, in an enhanced whisper: “A woman’s work. A woman’s prerogative. A woman’s time to embrace she must put herself first.” Stick with the five-minute-plus track, and many other elements emerge: choral echoes, deep-water percussion, audio fuzz, callbacks to early single “Cellophane,” tweaked melodies that defy easy categorization. FKA twigs is an artist’s artist: she knows how to craft a catchy tune (see: earlier work like “Two Weeks”), but she’s more interested in grappling with sounds and lyrical concepts that demand that her listeners play closer attention. “mary magdalene,” off her new album Magdalene, considers that historical figure and the grey areas of her identity: sinner, saint or something in between? FKA twigs wants us to interrogate any kind of binary when it comes to narratives about women and desire, both through her music and her visuals; she’s also a dancer and video director who has explored various modes of femininity. “I’m from a generation where, as a woman, I was taught that your Prince Charming would choose you. And when he did you were grateful,” she told New Music Daily with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1. “Magdalene is unraveling that and just finding my voice without society’s whispers.” The result, as captured on “mary magdalene,” is uncompromising art.
“West Coast Love,” Emotional Oranges
R&B duo Emotional Oranges have been making forward-thinking, tender jams for a couple of years now, often with a melancholy bent. “West Coast Love” is lighter and breezier, a sweet slice of swinging R&B off their new sophomore EP, The Juice Vol. 2. It’s got an old-school beat and lyrics that conjure up the feeling of young love without complications: “Jukebox on a blacktop / That’s that West Coast love / After school, hookin’ up in your drop top / West Coast love,” all sung with low-key precision. The pair of artists behind Emotional Oranges have kept their identities intentionally opaque, not as a ploy but as a challenge: can you envision yourself in their disembodied voices and sounds? The answer, for many listeners now, is yes, thanks to music that is both specific in its storytelling and universally appealing in its good vibes.
“Fool’s Gold,” Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus was rightfully lauded for her sophomore album Historian in 2018, and the collaborative boygenius album released the same year with fellow indie folk singers Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. In 2019, she decided to switch things up, putting out a few new songs and personalized covers to coincide with each major holiday. It could have been a gimmick, but in the capable hands of someone as incisive as Dacus, it’s affecting — especially “Fool’s Gold,” the final piece in the 2019 series, which is meant to correspond with New Year’s. She’s said it’s based on a true story, and you can taste the authenticity of her lyrics: “I threw the party so I could stay put / You brought the bottle like a promise I forgot / A new year begins, it ushers us in / The knot in my gut is coming with.” New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a celebration, but often it’s much more bittersweet than that. Here’s a song to remind us we’re not alone in that confusion.
“Cyber Sex,” Doja Cat
Few artists are embody the influence of the internet on music in 2019 as much as Doja Cat. A self-taught L.A. rapper, singer and producer, she got her start with an independent release on SoundCloud in 2013. Last year, her absurdist song “Mooo!” became a viral YouTube hit thanks to its intentional meme-ability. And now we have “Cyber Sex” off of her new album Hot Pink. Made with bubbly synth beats, it doesn’t beat around the bush. “Is you into that? Let’s break the internet,” she suggests as she describes the song’s title with explicit joy. Breathy and bright, it’s contemporary not-quite-rap at its most infectious.
“4Tounce,” Johnny Utah
It’s starting to get cold outside, but “4Tounce” sounds like summer: R&B-inflected surf-rock infused with the woozy spirit of young love. Or, at least, that’s what 23-year-old Johnny Utah is after, as he explains in the earworm track. “I don’t want your late night lovin’ / stayin’ at your place. I just want to be the one that you want in the day,” he laments, reflecting on unrequited affections. Philly-raised Utah — real name Jacob Sullenger — has only been releasing music for a few years, but so far he’s shown many different sides: some songs lean funk, others soul, all with a skewed-and-sliced modern twist.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 8 Nov 2019 | 4:40 pm
Warning: This story contains spoilers for the movie Last Christmas.
When the first trailer for Last Christmas dropped in August, many Twitter users speculated that there would be a twist. And those internet sleuths were right.
The holiday movie stars Emilia Clarke as Kate, a 20-something Londoner for whom nothing seems to go right. But everything changes when she meets Tom (Henry Golding), a dreamy but mysterious guy who pressures her to go on a date. Tom works nights, volunteers at a homeless shelter and doesn’t have a cell phone (or at least, he’s locked it in his cupboard).
Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bryony Kimmings and the story with husband Greg Wise, plays Kate’s immigrant mother. Rounding out the cast is Michelle Yeoh, Golding’s Crazy Rich Asians co-star, as Kate’s boss, who is called Santa, at a Christmas shop. (Kate must wear an elf uniform while Yeoh’s character wears whatever she wants.)
Last Christmas, which is directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig and features a soundtrack of George Michael music, premieres Nov. 8. For those who have not seen the movie and wish to avoid learning the fates of Kate and Tom, please bookmark this story, head to the theater and come back later. But for those ready to talk about what just happened, read on for a thorough accounting of all the clues that led up to that final Last Christmas twist.
Explaining the Last Christmas twist
Many of the guesses on Twitter were right, after all. Tom died in a biking accident last Christmas, shortly after which Kate, who needed a heart transplant, received his heart. In their final scene together, after Kate learns the truth, Tom says that she was “always going to have my heart,” one way or another. Reader, I cried!
So, yes, throughout the movie, Kate was actually traipsing around London alone, talking to herself and even ice skating by herself. (And breaking into an abandoned apartment by herself, but more on that later.)
If this was your guess from the start, congratulations!
If the twist in LAST CHRISTMAS really is that she has his transplanted heart, that inexplicably long and detailed trailer will have a lot to answer for.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) August 14, 2019
However, it remains unclear whether Tom is a ghost or just a figment of Kate’s imagination. TIME has compiled the details that paved the way for the film’s twist, as well as the plot holes and moments of misdirection that seem to muddle it.
Here were all the hints to the huge twist in Last Christmas.
“Last Christmas” is Kate’s favorite song
In hindsight, the movie’s title is a dead giveaway. While viewers are led to guess that the movie is called Last Christmas because Kate repeatedly says it’s her favorite song (and it plays at least three times from different toys in the Christmas shop), the twist reveals the title’s true meaning — and the significance of the song being Kate’s favorite. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” is literally the exact plot.
Tom really avoids running into people
Early on in the movie, once Kate agrees to go out with Tom following his relentless pressure (including showing up at her work after she’s already rejected him, which feels more than a bit aggressive), she marvels at something strange about him: He does a goofy, loopy dance maneuver as they walk down the street. Why, she asks (and so do we), is he so weird? It’s only once the truth comes out that this finally makes sense — he is doing everything he can to avoid running into people, since he is not actually physically present. Had he accidentally bumped into someone, would they have walked right through him? We never get an answer, as he manages to successfully avoid contact.
Kate is the only person who ever speaks to or interacts with Tom
While other characters like Santa and Kate’s friends know that Tom exists, none of them ever meet him in person. While that’s not particularly striking at first because he “works nights” and shows up unannounced, he does enter the Christmas shop — it just only happens in the scenes when Santa is not there. It’s only when she’s alone that he finds her.
Nobody at the homeless shelter recognizes Tom’s name
When Kate goes to find Tom at the homeless shelter, nobody has heard of him. While it’s believable that the volunteers during the evenings wouldn’t know the overnight workers, it is extremely unlikely that none of the patrons — who are pretty much always around, as Kate comes to know them well as she continues volunteering — would have met him. (Unless he has been dead for a year, of course. In that case, it’s quite plausible that they wouldn’t know him.)
Kate always finds him when he’s on his bike
Tom is almost always on his bike when Kate finds him. Not every single time, but quite frequently. After learning the twist, this makes perfect sense. He was on his bike when he died a year ago, making it reasonable that her conjuring of him often places him in the last position he assumed when he was alive.
Tom doesn’t wear a helmet
Tom never wears a helmet while riding his bike. This isn’t remarkable at first — a suave 20-something in London might forego protective gear — but in the flashback to his bike accident, he is wearing one. He isn’t wearing a helmet now, with Kate, because he’s already dead. He doesn’t need to stay safe on the road.
Tom’s “look up” quote
Tom always tells Kate to “look up” and see the wonders that London has to offer. While teaching Kate to pay attention to the beauty that surrounds her (and focus less on the negatives), he also may be subtly teaching her to look up to the sky to find him in heaven.
We never find out anything about Tom’s life
Kate tells Tom pretty much everything about her own life, but he never reveals anything about his family, his job or where he lives. When he brings Kate home to his apartment one night, it is freakishly neat, and looks as though nobody currently lives in it. He doesn’t explain why it’s so clean. (Kate later learns that’s because it’s currently on the market, as its owner, Tom, has died.)
Tom is the only character we see Kate talk to about her heart transplant
At “his” apartment, Kate tells Tom (and the viewer) about her mysterious illness. Last Christmas, she had a heart transplant, and she hasn’t felt like herself since. Tom touches the scar on her chest, and she tells him that being with him makes her feel whole again. He doesn’t want to be intimate with her — the reason for which is never really explained — but they do end up kissing.
Tom doesn’t eat or sleep
When Kate wakes up in Tom’s apartment, she is happier than ever after making out with Tom. But he is nowhere to be found. In fact, when she fell asleep the night before, he didn’t lay in bed with her, but put her to sleep alone, in a small bed. So it seems as though he didn’t sleep that night, and disappeared right as she felt “whole” again. Additionally, Tom never eats during the movie, though other characters are seen eating quite frequently. Before their romantic ice skating scene, Kate is eating street food on a bench, while Tom eats nothing.
But what about those plot holes?
While most of the strange aspects of Tom’s personality are easily explained once the twist is revealed, a few things never quite add up.
Tom had never heard of Frozen
When Kate says she’s auditioning for a role in Frozen on Ice, he says he’s never heard of the now iconic Disney animated musical. That might make sense, if the movie hadn’t come out in 2013. He had nearly two full years to see the movie (or at least hear that it existed) before he died. Perhaps he was merely not keeping up with the Mouse House, but “Let It Go” was pretty much unavoidable for quite some time after that movie’s release.
How do they kiss?
Nobody is complaining about a Henry Golding-Emilia Clarke smooching scene, but it does beg the question: If Tom can’t be intimate with Kate, and he can’t even run into people on the street, why can he make out with her? A good holiday rom-com may have felt incomplete without it, but we’re still scratching our heads.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 8 Nov 2019 | 2:44 pm
Warning: Contains spoilers for the movie Midway
Just in time for Americans to officially remember veterans of World War II and other conflicts on Veterans Day 2019, a film about a key battle in the Pacific theater is opening in movie theaters.
Director Roland Emmerich’s new movie Midway, out Friday, is based on the true story of the battle of Midway Island. Fought June 4 through 7, 1942, the U.S. victory at Midway is considered by many the moment when the U.S. regained its military dignity six months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
This new movie has been cast by its creators as an attempt to restore cinematic dignity to the historic battle; another Hollywood film called Midway came out in 1976, but has been criticized for casting actors much older than those who fought the battle, putting events out of sequence and recycling footage from earlier movies about the war. So the filmmakers wanted to give this major turning point in World War II the major motion picture it deserved.
“The Pacific campaign is long and complicated, and gets overshadowed, in our attention, by what was happening in with the Nazis in Europe,” says screenwriter Wes Tooke. “But it’s an amazing comeback story. I hope that the movie relaunches an interest in learning about Midway.”
Here’s what to know about the importance of the real Battle of Midway in World War II.
Where Is Midway and Why Fight There?
The Midway Islands are an unincorporated U.S. territory about halfway between Asia and North America. The islands are part of the Hawaiian archipelago, located northwest of Honolulu, but not part of the state of Hawaii. The U.S. annexed Midway in 1867, and the Navy took it over in 1903, and in 1940, ramped up the construction of an air and submarine base there. (The 2019 movie was shot at Hawaii’s Hickam Air Force Base and in Montreal.)
After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese went about carving out a huge empire in the Pacific in Indochina, Burma, the Philippines and various island possessions. “It was an unstoppable parade of Japanese victories,” says Rob Citino, Senior Historian at the National WWII Museum, who was not involved in the film.
In early 1942, U.S. Navy cryptanalysts had learned the Japanese were planning a big attack in the Pacific at a place codenamed AF, but were trying to figure out where, exactly. As the National WWII museum puts it, “The attack location and time were confirmed when the American base at Midway sent out a false message that it was short of fresh water. Japan then sent a message that ‘AF’ was short of fresh water, confirming that the location for the attack was the base at Midway. Station Hypo (where the cryptanalysts were based in Hawaii) was able to also give the date (June 4 or 5) and the order of battle of the Imperial Japanese Navy.”
What Happened at the Battle of Midway?
Here’s how TIME described some of the action in the June 15, 1942 issue:
The morning after the first attack on Dutch Harbor, another (and much stronger) force of Japanese planes assaulted Midway Island in the mid-Pacific, 1, 300 miles northwest of Pearl Harbor. Midway was worth a Japanese gamble ; only Pearl Harbor was more vital to U.S. operations in the Pacific. And, in Japanese hands, Midway could be a steppingstone to Pearl Harbor, Alaska and the U.S. mainland.
The Japanese got a mighty shock. Midway was ready. This much the Japanese might have expected: Midway’s defending Marines had repulsed five lighter attacks. What the Japanese patently did not expect was the strength of the forces on and around Midway. Marine Corps fighters instantly took the air. On Midway’s field were Army bombers, warmed up and ready to track fleeing [Japanese] to their carriers. Anti-aircraft fire blanketed Midway’s sky…
U.S. fighters and bombers, pursuing the rest, found the Japanese main force. U.S. Navy carriers with their fighters, scout bombers and torpedo planes closed in for the kill….
Between the battle area and U.S. headquarters in Pearl Harbor there was no radio communication (the [Japanese] might pick up messages). The Navy’s Admiral Chester William Nimitz and the Army’s Lieut. General Delos Carleton Emmons had to wait for reports from returning planes. The first reports were hard to believe. Cautious Admiral Nimitz held his fire. His first communiqué was a masterpiece of restraint. Then, on the second day, he announced:
“It is too early to claim a major Japanese disaster…The enemy appears to be withdrawing, but we are continuing the battle.”
“A momentous victory is in the making…Pearl Harbor has now been partially avenged. Vengeance will not be complete until Japanese sea power is reduced to impotence. We have made substantial progress in that direction. Perhaps we will be forgiven if we claim that we are about midway* to that objective. The battle is not over…”
Critically, four of Japan’s six aircraft carriers sank. In terms of manpower, according to the WWII museum, the Japanese lost 3,057 men, while the U.S. lost about 362 men. In terms of warcraft, the Japanese lost a cruiser and hundreds of aircraft, and the U.S. lost a carrier, a destroyer and 144 aircraft.
Who Was Involved in the Battle of Midway?
The characters in the movie Midway are based on real people, and what they faced during the Battle of Midway sounds straight out of Hollywood. Screenwriter Wes Tooke combed oral histories, interviews, Santa Monica’s Museum of Flying and books like Barrett Tillman’s Enterprise: America’s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II and Stephen L. Moore’s Pacific Payback: The Carrier Aviators Who Avenged Pearl Harbor at the Battle of Midway.
Lieut. Commander Clarence Wade McClusky (played by Luke Evans) was awarded the Navy Cross for leading the Enterprise’s Air Group 6. “Bleeding from five wounds, his SBD dive bomber hit 55 times, McClusky landed back on the Enterprise with five gallons of gas left and reported three crack Japanese carriers (Akagi, Kaga and Soryu) bombed, ablaze and wrecked,” TIME’s 1976 obituary for McClusky said of what he went through during Midway.
Navy aviator Dick Best (played by Ed Skrein, with Mandy Moore playing his wife Ann) drew fans who said that if dive-bombing were an Olympic sport, the 32-year-old would have won a Gold medal, according to Tillman’s book, where Tooke first read about him. Tragically, his aviation career ended after Midway: He accidentally inhaled gas fumes while examining the inside of an oxygen canister and, after the battle, a doctor told him the gas fumes had activated latent tuberculosis. He retired from the Navy in 1944, ending his career flying planes.
Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas) was an Air Machinist Mate in one of the planes that dive-bombed the Japanese carrier Kaga, but ran out of fuel and was advised to abandon the aircraft. The crew of a different Japanese carrier, Makigumo, picked him up. A postwar investigation found Japanese accounts that said he was interrogated and then thrown overboard with weights attached to his feet, drowning him.
What Was the Significance of the Battle of Midway?
“At one stroke, the dominant position of Japan in the Pacific was reversed,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote in his post-war account of World War II. “The annals of war at sea present no more intense, heart-shaking shock than these two battles, in which the qualities of the United States Navy and Air Force and of the American race shone forth in splendor.”
“The second six months of war last week began for the U.S. at the point where the first six months should have started,” TIME reported in the June 22, 1942, issue. “The loss of the Philippines, of Guam and Wake, had not been undone. But Midway was what Pearl Harbor should have been. The two canceled out. In three days of concentrated destruction off Midway, the U.S. had restored the balance of Pacific naval power. Thus for the U.S. began Phase II of the war.”
Critically, for Americans who feared a repeat of Pearl Harbor, Japan “lost much of her Navy’s striking power at sea,” the story noted. “Without that power, Japan cannot bring the war to the U.S., or even to the remaining U.S. strongholds in the Pacific.” Military leaders in Washington knew Midway was an “essentially defensive” victory and “a crippling, but not a knockout blow.” As a top Navy official in Washington D.C., put it, “I would not say that they [the Japanese] have been defeated yet; they have ‘withdrawn.'”
It would be three more “grinding” years of island-hopping invasions “from the fetid jungles of new Guinea to the barricaded caves of Okinawa,” before the war in the Pacific ended, TIME reported in a special issue on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese surrendered to the Allies aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, on Sep. 2, 1945, now known as “V-J Day.”
And yet, the filmmakers behind the new Midway felt the battle is not as well known as it should be to Americans in 2019.
Citino says there are several reasons why Midway is not as front of mind as Pearl Harbor or D-Day for Americans in 2019: “At the time it was fought, Midway was a sensation, got a lot of media attention and everyone knew this was the Americans’ first big win. Over time, naval battles are more difficult to write about and describe unless you have some naval background. I think America has lost touch with its naval battles in the Pacific… You can envision soldiers on land shooting at one another, but maybe naval battles are harder for people to envision because they happened at such vast distances over open ocean.”
And experts are still learning about the conflict nearly eight decades later. On Oct. 21, a research vessel operated by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. discovered two of the Japanese carriers that sunk during the battle of Midway.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 8 Nov 2019 | 11:59 am