Friday, October 29, 2021

Terrifying Reading for Halloween

 Scary stories come in many sizes and sources. If you are following American politics and its impact on the rest of the world, there is enough to scare the wits out of you. Here are some of the writers and journalists I follow on a platform called Substack and their articles are truly terrifying in many cases. 

If you are not familiar with Substack, it is an American online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters. 

Substack—which allows writers to send digital newsletters directly to their readers and monetize their work by putting it behind a paywall—has been growing steadily ever since its launch in 2017. Substack now has more than 250,000 paying subscribers. Its top ten publishers collectively bring in $7 million in annualized revenue. While Substack takes a 10% cut of earnings and payment company Stripe takes another 3%, writers pocket the rest. 

Substack offers journalists a platform to say whatever they want, unencumbered by editors. The independent writers that join the platform own their own content, as well as their subscription lists. They also have no obligation to stay on the platform. They can leave at any time—and bring their subscribers with them. 

1. Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians. She previously taught history at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. HCR would be my first choice; a daily summary of important news with historical background and analysis, usually as positive and upbeat as she can make it... but not always. I am a paid subscriber but her daily articles are also available on Facebook. She is in the top 10 on Substack and justifiably so.

2. TCinLA from That's Another Fine Mess

TC (Thomas McKelvey Cleaver) has written a number of military histories of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam that expose the dark side of the politics of war. His is the only other writer I am a paid subscriber to though I think you can sign up for free but it doesn't cover all articles.

3. Thom Hartmann of The Hartmann Report

Thomas Hartmann is an American radio personality, author, former psychotherapist, businessman, and progressive political commentator. I am currently on a free subscription but is one I would pay for though @ $50 to $75 USD there is a limit.

4. Timothy Snyder from "Thinking about..."

Dr Timothy Snyder is a well known historian and author. He is currently doing a series of podcasts from his booklet "On Tyranny" and has written and lectured a great deal on Eastern and Central Europe and the Holocaust. I have an unpaid subscription to his podcasts.

5. Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, lawyer, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, as well as serving as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. He strongly supports Progressive Democrats such as AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. He is on Facebook and I also have an unpaid subscription.

6. Jeet Heer from The Time of Monsters

Jeet Heer is a Canadian author, comics critic, literary critic and journalist. He is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine and a former staff writer at The New Republic. About half articles and half podcasts. I have an unpaid subscription.

7. Spencer Ackerman from Forever Wars

Spencer Ackerman is an American journalist and writer. Focusing primarily on national security, he began his career at The New Republic in 2002 before writing for Wired, The Guardian and The Daily Beast. His columns tend to reflect the dark side of American politics of war. I have an unpaid subscription but would consider a paid one of necessary.

8. Greg Olear from PREVAIL by Greg Olear

Greg Olear is an American novelist, journalist, and author. His journalism includes political commentary and investigation; in 2018 he published the book Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia. I have an unpaid subscription.

9. Lucian K. Truscott IV from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Lucian King Truscott IV is an American writer and journalist. A former staff writer for The Village Voice, he is the author of several military-themed novels. I have an unpaid subscription.

10. Ruth Ben-Ghiat from Lucid

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an American historian and cultural critic. She is a scholar on fascism and authoritarian leaders. Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. I have an unpaid subscription.

11. Diane Francis on America

Diane Francis is a US-born Canadian journalist, author and editor-at-large for the National Post newspaper since 1998. She is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, specializing in Eurasia policy and political issues. She writes about power, money, tech, and white-collar crime in America. She is totally behind a paywall. 


  1. Lots and lots of informative (and sometime depressing and frightening) reading I suspect.
    Which we sometimes need.

    1. Each is very informed in their own areas of expertise. I read them and much more because I do not like to be uninformed. Not sure if it is a good thing but I can't not read.

  2. I've heard of Robert Reich and Diane Francis, but the rest are all new to me. I guess this is how pundits and columnists make a paid living now that traditional print journalism is all but dead and can't afford to hire them any more.

    1. Those were the only two I knew of along with Timothy Snyder whose books I have read. Then I ran into Heather Cox Richardson on Facebook and just picked up more from there. Substack authors are free to write things that attract readers not advertisers. Much more informative.

  3. We have some scary people or evil ones. I would say our 45th president would of fell under both of these terms.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  4. Yes, our unfolding Reality is indeed more Terrifying than any Horror Movie or Scary Book I've ever read. I'm not sure it will all have a Happy ending or not, I used to be an incurable Optimist, now I'm only Guardedly Optimistic with some doses of Pessimism thrown in for good measure based on Observations, which seem to keep devolving at such a rapid rate that I'm glad I'm among the Old and not the Young that will have to endure much more of it in their Lifetimes.

    1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  5. What, Me worry? I read Mad.
    I try to keep my input of daily insanity to a minimum necessary to keep me informed. I have years left not decades and I see no benefit in stoking my discontent. I look for interesting reading, but not disturbing - though we can't avoid some.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  6. I'd never heard of Substack - what a cool concept! That said, I think I'll skip the scary stories. I read enough news to stay on top of local issues and gain a basic understanding of global issues; and that's all my mental health will take. Stressing over things I can't change is an overrated pastime.

    1. Don't worry. Illiberal democracy is slowly worming its way into Canada, courtesy the religious right and other homegrown bigots, homophobes and misogynists. You will learn about it soon enough.

    2. Thanks. I wasn't planning to sleep tonight, anyway.


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