Computing Identities

In the story that Walter Simons has flagged, a simple IP address revealed Orlando Figes’s hidden identity as a fiesty Amazon reviewer.  Meanwhile, more powerful computing tools have lately been trained on the most notable anonymous work in American history.

In a book just out this month, Daniel Crofts has unraveled the mystery of “The Diary of a Public Man,” which appeared as a key “behind the scenes” look at the secession crisis of 1860-1861.   “Lincoln’s Deep Throat” was most likely the newspaperman William Henry Hurlbert, Crofts argues, mustering a statistical profile of writing styles to fortify this case.  It also seems that Hurlbert’s “diary” was nothing of the sort, since it was apparently written long after the events that it described.

There’s a Hanover angle to this story too.  Before now, the most in-depth consideration of this book was written by Dartmouth’s own Frank Maloy Anderson, whose efforts gained him a Time magazine squib in 1949 titled “Professor as Sleuth.”
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