Readers write: Netflix in Africa, Kennedy's prohibition role, and superlative essayist

Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Maxwell Simba perform in 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,' a Netflix-carried film directed by Mr. Ejiofor that is set in rural Malawi and acted mostly in a local language, Chichewa.

Netflix in Africa
How good it was to read Ryan Lenora Brown’s article “Whose stories get streamed? Netflix tells more Africans: yours” in the April 22 & 29 issue. I enjoyed hearing about Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor from “12 Years a Slave,” and also the new Netflix movie he directed, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” Both stories are global in nature.
My book group read the young adult nonfiction novel “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” several years ago, and we decided that it should be required reading for middle school students.
Many good movies are based on excellent books – including both movies mentioned above. Why not recognize the genius of the authors too?
Martha F. Barkley
North Charleston, South Carolina

Kennedy’s Prohibition role
Your book review of “The World According to Fannie Davis” titled “My mother was a numbers runner” in the April 22 & 29 issue refers to Joseph P. Kennedy as a bootlegger. However, most of his biographers disagree with that assessment. (See “The Patriarch” by David Nasaw or “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” by Daniel Okrent.)
Kennedy invested in a shipment of whiskey that arrived on U.S. shores, legally, the minute Prohibition ended. Already a wealthy man, he didn’t need to smuggle, and he cared about his family’s reputation.
The bootlegging rumors were put out when his son John ran for president. Joseph P. Kennedy had a lot to answer for, but he probably didn’t smuggle whiskey. 
Charles Sanders
Seattle

Editor’s note: The author of “The World According to Fannie Davis,” Bridgett M. Davis, used the Kennedy anecdote to support her decision to tell her mother’s story. We should have looked further into Joseph P. Kennedy’s history to avoid perpetuating what could be an incomplete or false account.

Superlative essayist
You may make all the thoughtful design changes that you wish, provided that you regularly include essays by Robert Klose.
Over the years I feel that I had the privilege of witnessing the upbringing of both his sons. Now, in the May 6 Home Forum essay, “What a 9-year-old saw in Teddy Roosevelt,” I have a story from Robert’s own childhood.
He always writes with just the right combination of poignancy, humor, and arresting observations.
Flora Clifford Majumder
Northampton, Massachusetts

Why We Wrote This

Letters to the editor for the May 27, 2019 weekly magazine.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.