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Over the past three months my wife Deb and I have been doing a lot of traveling, interviewing, and reporting for our American Futures series, for a set of posts that we haven’t published yet but will roll out in coming weeks.

We’ve been (briefly) in Chico, California; then for an extended period in the Bend/Prineville/Redmond area of central Oregon; then along the Columbia River and Snake River gorges toward the twin towns of Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington, along which a giant-scale commemorative projectdesigned by Maya Lin is underway; then a short visit to very small-town Montana and a long period at the ambitious and inspiring American Prairie Reserve in the northern part of the state; then back east in a circuitous route that included stops in Colorado, Nebraska, and recent one-off side trips to Massachusetts and Tennessee and elsewhere.

Reports on all these places will return to this space starting in the coming week. Here is how it looked on the approach to landing in Chester, Montana, recently. The runway is what looks like the extension of a normal street, paralleling the highway just past the town. (For aviation-world readers: Yes, it might look a little high at this point. But I was self-conscious about dragging it in right over the houses, so we made a steep approach and then landed and stopped with lots of runway to spare.)


I mention this partly for stage-setting purposes, and partly to direct your attention to the first post in this new season of our travels. It’s by Deb, it’s on (yet another) innovative public library, and it’s up just now. You’ll find it here.

Meanwhile in this space we’ll keep up on the Iran deal debate, ramifications of civil-military relations, the latest boiled-frog sighting, and other staple themes.

Here is picture of the subject of Deb’s latest post, the downtown branch of the Deschutes Public Library system in Bend, Oregon.

In downtown Bend, Oregon, the main branch of the Deschutes Public Library system (Deborah Fallows/The Atlantic)

It’s James Baldwin’s birthday, which I mention because of the ongoing discussion in The Atlantic and elsewhere of my friend and colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates’s continuation of Baldwin’s themes and voice.

Neither Baldwin nor Peter O’Toole is around any longer as part of the August 2 birthday club. But my writer-friends Lawrence Wright and Erik Tarloff, my musician-friend Greg Tornquist, novelist and historian Caleb Carr, and presumably even Judge Lance Ito join me in toasting Baldwin on the best of all possible days to be born.