Historical fiction invites us to experience the exotic and the unknown while confirming our common humanity. I do not believe that human nature has changed much over the centuries, and it is possible to identify with the emotions, passions, and fears of men and women long dead.
It's a big night in Iowa: The Republican presidential candidates are holding their final big debate prior to the Iowa caucuses, which take place on Jan. 3. Melissa Block talks with Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad about various candidates' strengths and weaknesses. In short, he says there's a lot of excitement, and he's reserving judgment on who the winner will be.
There's a world of activity between the time online shoppers click the "place order" button and when a holiday package is delivered to their doorsteps. The National Retail Federation estimates that 38 percent of holiday purchases will be made online this year, which is keeping fulfillment centers large and small very busy.
Target.com runs five fulfillment centers. One of them, in Tucson, Ariz., stretches the length of 16 football fields.
President Obama doesn't have to worry about winning the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. He's almost sure to be the only Democrat in the first-in-the-nation contest. Yet that hasn't stopped the Obama campaign from organizing its own effort to get out the vote.
While Republican candidates have been hogging the Iowa spotlight, a small army of Obama volunteers has been busy behind the scenes. They've opened eight campaign offices around the state, hosted dozens of house parties, and logged tens of thousands of telephone calls.
The founder of a venerable literary institution in Paris has died at 98. George Whitman founded the Shakespeare & Co bookstore, across from the Notre Dame cathedral. The shop was a magnet for English speakers in the French capital.