During Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Bulgaria (Cultural Revolutions, December), the Washington Times featured a front-page photo of the First Lady surrounded by several Bulgarian orphans, over the caption, “Aiding Orphans.”

I sincerely hope that Mrs. Clinton showed more compassion toward these Bulgarian orphans than she did during her 1996 visit with their Rumanian counterparts. According to Rumanian news sources, the First Lady made quite an impact on the lives of several hundred of the orphanage’s poor boys and girls. hi a most benevolent gesture of goodwill and caring, Hillary Clinton gave each needy orphan . . . a pair of sunglasses.

Rumanian authorities and the Orthodox clergy present during this demonstration of Mrs. Clinton’s insensitivity and callousness were left speechless. Later, the shocked workers at the orphanage told the press that they had never thought that the First Lady could be so unaware of the underfunded and decrepit state of Rumanian orphanages and so apathetic toward the plight of Rumanian orphans, who are in dire need of the necessities of life and love, not of sunglasses.

After the fall of communism, photos of Rumania’s orphaned babies shocked the West. Most of these orphaned babies had remained in unpainted or peeling cribs for months, even years, without being held, or touched, or spoken to. Older children were bathed by being stripped and hosed down like animals. We all saw those pictures. Who could not have been moved by them?

Even a bar of chocolate or a piece of fruit would have been welcomed by these poor, unfortunate children. But a pair of sunglasses?

        —Stella L. Jatras
Sterling, VA

On the Art of the Reviewer

Rarely does an author receive the kind of critical understanding displayed in Thomas Fleming’s review of Our Fathers’ Fields (“The Fall and Rise of the House of Hardy,” December 1998). Dr. Fleming went to the central issues of the book as a “Southern Agrarian novel” with such a sensitivity and acumen that its author would feel remiss in not acknowledging it. Dr. Fleming’s is the kind of review all writers wish for their works but seldom get—especially in these times of the half-considered, the shoddy, the slip-shod, the half-baked, the myopic, and the planned obsolescent. What a joyful thing it is to find a reviewer who carefully, thoughtfully reads the entire book, and with a breadth of background that allows grasping the big picture. Only with the classical long view of the Renaissance man is this possible. How sorely lacking in this trait essential to high culture is our poor, sad, “soundbite” century. To Dr. Fleming—who obviously has “knowledge carried to the heart”—the heart-felt thanks of the author of Our Fathers’ Fields.

        —James Everett Kibler
Athens, GA

On “Something in Colorado”

Noises in the woods that the guys just weren’t able to record . . . bait laid out but not touched . . . clapping rocks. . . . Come on, guys, it sounds like the “snipe hunts” that I was tricked into doing when I was a Boy Scout tenderfoot. But as one of the men said, “It’s nice to get into the mountains again.”

        —J.M. Rodgers
Sierra Madre, CA