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Matthew Luckett, Ph.d. Blog


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Official homepage and blog for historian and author Matthew Luckett, Ph.D. Dr. Luckett's first book, Never Caught Twice: Horse Stealing and Culture in Western Nebraska, 1850-1890, will be released in late 2020 by the University of Nebraska Press. He also regularly blogs about his grandfather, a Pearl Harbor survivor, and a new book project based on the hundreds of letters Dr. Luckett inherited when his grandpa passed away in 2018.
2022-10-31 19:41
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? “Paperback Writer,” The Beatles (but also me) Hi all, It’s been a busy cou… Read More
2022-08-24 15:00
I clearly enjoy writing a lot, but I love doing photography. Although I still have much to learn about the technical side of taking a good photograph, I think I have some of the fundamentals… Read More
Manila, Part I: Getting A Sense Of Place
2022-06-06 02:28
At SFO last Wednesday, the ticketing line for Philippine Airlines stretched away from the counter, around the corner, and past the entrance doors. I rolled my luggage to the end of the queue… Read More
2022-03-14 18:46
Hi all,I’ve been making some changes to my site in order to make it less of a blog about one particular project and more of an author platform that connects all the things on which I a… Read More
2022-03-04 17:00
Summary: Received several letters from home. Asks parents about insurance, allotment check. Discusses plans to stay at Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Scanned version: Audio version: Read More
The First Pearl Harbor Memorial
2022-02-03 21:35
If someone were to ask you where the first Pearl Harbor monument is located, what place would you guess? Honolulu? Washington, D.C.? Perhaps someplace in Arizona? If you didn’t come… Read More
2021-12-08 02:02
Hi folks,Today has been a busy day on my end. I’ve had a final exam to complete, urgent work matters to sort through, and a child who really wanted Winter Wonderland pancakes from IHOP… Read More
A Thank You And An Update
2021-11-12 01:24
Hi folks, It’s that time of year again . . . thank you to all of you who have served our country. Be sure to thank a veteran today. And if you’re you are looking for a way… Read More
2021-09-21 19:15
Hi folks,I just wanted to post a quick announcement about some wonderful news I received last week:Never Caught Twice is a 2021 Nebraska Book Award winner for Nebraska History! Thank you to… Read More
Expressions Of Appreciation
2021-05-31 16:45
Hi folks,First off, thank you to everyone who has reached out to me here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and offline to express their well wishes with respect to my post on Saturday about pursuing… Read More
New Directions
2021-05-29 19:14
Hi folks,I apologize for being so negligent over these past few months in writing or contributing to this blog. It’s been an interesting few months here in Orangevale, and for all of u… Read More
September 1945: “I Am On My Way”
2020-11-02 18:00
Even though Billie Joe Armstrong wrote this song about losing his father at the age of 10, the song has been reinterpreted in a variety of ways, including within its own music video. After… Read More
August 1945: A Time For Peace
2020-10-19 17:00
“Are we doomed to it, Lord, chained to the pendulum of our own mad clockwork, helpless to halt its swing? This time, it will swing us clean to oblivion.”Walter M. Miller, Jr… Read More
July 1945: Pounds And Politics
2020-10-12 17:00
In the last weeks of the war, Elmer and the Mink spent their days doing what they had been doing for the past fifteen months: slaking the American Navy’s seemingly endless thirst for f… Read More
June 1945: Hooked
2020-10-05 17:00
A month after V-E Day, it was business as usual in the Pacific. The work to defeat Japan continued unabated, isolated from the celebrations and culminations unfolding a continent away in Eur… Read More
May 1945: Advancements
2020-09-28 17:00
V-E Day did not bring the war to an end for the Allies in the Pacific Theater. But Germany’s surrender brought a sense of relief and joy, as well as a wave of sadness and mourning for… Read More
2020-09-21 17:00
Elmer began his Easter Sunday letter on April 1st, 1945 complaining that dehydrated eggs could not resurrect themselves into a hard-boiled form. “The hard-shell variety of ‘hen f… Read More
March 1945: Splitsville
2020-09-14 17:00
“Thanks for the Memory” (1938) was one of the most iconic breakup songs of the WWII generation . . . it even won the Oscar for “Best Original Song”If Elmer’s… Read More
2020-09-12 01:38
Neil Young’s tribute to the heroes who died on United flight 93.Never forget . . . always remember. #September11th Read More
2020-09-12 00:08
Hi folks,I just wanted to post a quick update on the fires up here, since people have been asking us all week about it . . . First of all, we are OK. We’re tired of all the smoke, a… Read More
2020-09-07 17:00
“Your boy is growing a bit weary of this mess. In fact, he’s damn tired of it.” The four years and counting of active service were beginning to take their toll on Elmer… Read More
January 1945: Diversions
2020-08-31 17:00
No one knew with certainty when the war was going to end, but most observers believed that 1945 was going to be the year when, at minimum, Germany surrendered. It was just a matter of time… Read More
November 1944: Pet Theories
2020-08-17 17:00
The Mink remained in San Pedro Bay throughout November, where it continued to refuel ships as part of the 77.7.2 Task Force. On the 9th it replenished its own cargo with 277,788 gallons of d… Read More
October 1944: The Fighting Mink
2020-08-10 17:00
On December 27, Elmer sent his parents his latest – and last – Christmas menu from the Mink’s official holiday dinner. It contained the usual fare: roast turkey, candied sw… Read More
2020-08-06 17:00
Hi folks, I am excited to announce that the Grandpa’s Letters series will resume next Monday, August 10th, at 10am Pacific Time with my “October 1944” entry. I will then… Read More
2020-07-30 08:18
I’ve heard a lot of great things about Greyhound, the new World War II Naval drama starring Tom Hanks and, I guess, Elisabeth Shue (more on that later). I read that it was the most rea… Read More
2020-07-15 03:55
Hi folks,I’ve decided to deactivate my Twitter. There are a few reasons for this . . . first of all, it was driving me bonkers. My blood pressure is high enough. Secondly, as a sel… Read More
2020-07-06 19:51
One of my favorite aspects of military history is the availability of documentation. Militaries are big things, indeed. They have lots of soldiers, lots of vehicles, and lots weapons tha… Read More
2020-07-01 23:53
Hi folks,I received some news yesterday that was not unexpected: the 2020 Western History Association Conference will be conducted entirely online. The good news here is that the entire conf… Read More
2020-06-30 21:11
Good news: the Interior Borderlands: Regional Identity in the Midwest and Great Plains has just won a Midwest Book Award for Best General History. I’m honored and privileged to have ha… Read More
2020-06-22 17:00
Hi folks, You may have noticed that there are now ads on the website. That’s on me . . . this is not a free account, and I have my annual site renewal coming up, so every little bit… Read More
September 1944: The Dead Ones
2020-06-18 17:00
The Mink dropped anchor in Biak’s Mokmer Harbor on September 2 and discharged diesel fuel there until the 5th. At some point during that time Elmer left the ship and went ashore. It ha… Read More
2020-06-12 01:17
Hi folks,I apologize, but I don’t have anything for you today. My September 1944 post is not ready for prime time, nor are any of my other planned Grandpa’s Letters posts. I&rsqu&hell…Read More
2020-06-08 21:52
Elmer ended up spending over a month in Australia. Once his leave ended at the end of the month, he was ordered to hang out in Sydney and wait for his transportation back to the Mink. In t… Read More
2020-06-04 17:00
Hi folks,There won’t be a Grandpa’s Letters post today or for the rest of the week. There are a few reasons for this. For one, I still feel like it is important for me to step as… Read More
2020-06-01 20:19
Hi folks,In general my policy is to keep this space – particularly the Grandpa’s Letters blog – as free from politics and current events as possible. As a historian, one of… Read More
2020-05-28 17:00
By July, the daily grind and the ongoing isolation began to wear down the Mink’s crew. So the ship’s officers cooked up some surprises for their men. “Yes sir,” Elm… Read More
Two Shipmates
2020-05-25 17:00
Today is Memorial Day, and it is an even more somber holiday than usual: instead of attending backyard barbecues and opening swimming pools, many Americans continue to reel from the COVID-19… Read More
June 1944: The Invasion Prayer
2020-05-21 17:00
The whole watched on June 6th, 1944 as over 150,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. It was the largest amphibious invasion in history, and the fate of the planet would be de… Read More
May 1944: Birthdays And Barracudas
2020-05-18 17:00
The Mink would spend the next several months in Seeadler Harbor. Elmer discussed his ship’s role in our interview: The Admiralty Islands, it had a wonderful gulf or a bay in there… Read More
2020-05-09 03:57
Hi folks, Exciting news: The Interior Borderlands: Regional Identity in the Midwest and Great Plains is a finalist in the “History-General” category for the 2020 Midwest Book… Read More
April 1944: The Merry-Go-Round
2020-05-08 17:00
On April 1st the Mink got under way with the U.S.S. San Pedro and the rest of its convoy and sailed toward Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralty Islands. The harbor was located on the north side… Read More
Happy 100!
2020-05-07 07:22
Today’s the big day: Grandpa would have turned 100 years old this morning. Oddly enough, after writing some 40,000 words about my grandpa thus far for this blog, I’m not sure… Read More
March 1944: The Filling Station
2020-05-04 17:00
“It’s been a long voyage . . .in fact, the longest I’ve ever made. And the sight of land will be a pleasure for us all.” The long voyage across the Pacific took… Read More
2020-04-23 17:00
On February 3rd the Mink pulled into Cristobal, a port on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal Zone. The crew had two nights to rest, mail letters, and paint the town red. Elmer “had… Read More
2020-04-20 17:00
It was January 1944, and it seemed like everyone was nursing a cold. Elmer had the sniffles for the first week of the month, and Rose was sick as well. Elmer’s mother was so ill that… Read More
Elmer Luckett And The Shreveport Kid
2020-04-02 17:00
“It’s a wonder he didn’t shoot his foot off.” That’s my dad, Steve, commenting on one of the non-Pearl Harbor-related stories my grandpa liked to tell about… Read More
2020-03-31 17:00
Hi folks,So far I like taking a month-on, month-off approach to my posts about Elmer’s letters to his parents, so I think I am going hold off on talking about 1944 (which was a VERY ev… Read More
December 1943: A Master At Arms
2020-03-30 17:00
When Elmer arrived back in New Orleans after his Thanksgiving leave, he still had several weeks ahead of him in Louisiana before he would be able to join his new boat. But now work, training… Read More
2020-03-26 17:00
Elmer had his hernia operation on October 27th. It did not take long for his mother to find out about it, and she expressed her disapproval for being kept in the dark in her November 2nd let… Read More
2020-03-23 17:00
Leaf peepers like to spend their time and money visiting Vermont, but Cape Girardeau is every bit as nice when the leaves change. Flaming oranges, reds, and yellows polka dot the thick green… Read More
Cover Art Released
2020-03-18 23:03
Hi folks,Great news: the University of Nebraska Press has just released the cover art for my upcoming book, Never Caught Twice: Horse Stealing in Western Nebraska, 1850 – 1890. Check i… Read More
July 1943: The Obstacle Course
2020-03-16 17:00
Elmer quickly found himself busy once classes started on July 6th. “Same routine,” he wrote two weeks later. “Exercise, chow, classes, chow, exercise, classes, study, cho… Read More
May – June 1943: Two Homecomings
2020-03-10 17:09
Elmer did not write his parents another letter until June 18th. He did not have to: at 2:15 PM on May 11th, Grandpa arrived at Saint Louis Union Station. His parents were waiting. After s… Read More
2020-03-06 18:00
Hi folks, Great news: my blog has just hit 100 followers! Thanks to every single one of you who has signed up to receive updates. It really helps me out, and I do appreciate it. Meanwh… Read More
2020-03-01 05:40
I just want to say a quick thank you to JoAnna for holding down the fort for me this past month. I needed the time, apparently: I’ve been very busy with copyedits and I’ve had to… Read More
Gamification In World History
2020-02-10 18:11
Image from the University of California. The Mammoth group won the game, but I gave everybody extra credit for participating.Hello All, As you know from the last post, this is JoAnna, Mat… Read More
The Guest Begins
2020-02-03 19:06
Portions of Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh. This cuneiform writing depicts Gilgamesh and Enkidu meeting Humbaba, guardian of the Cedar Forest. The tablet dates to the Old Babylonian Perio… Read More
2020-02-01 00:25
Hi folks,Thank you for reading, commenting on, and following my blog over the past several months. I have really enjoyed sharing these letters with you and taking this opportunity to not onl… Read More
A Post About Pat
2020-01-29 19:43
One of the more mysterious characters we’ve read about over the first two years of Elmer’s correspondence is his old flame, Pat. I had a great deal of difficulty locating her &nd&hell…Read More
2020-01-28 08:33
Hi folks,If anyone is coming here from one of my classes (or if anyone else is curious about what I teach), I’ve updated my syllabi on the “Teaching” page, as well as the o… Read More

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