Devin Leonard's new book is Neither Snow nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service.
From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write that the idea for this book originated with a story you wrote in 2011 for Bloomberg Businessweek. How did you research the book, and what surprised you most in the course of your research?Visit Devin Leonard's website.
A: I did a lot of interviews with current and former people who worked for the Postal Service, and did some digging through the archives. There is a labor museum in Detroit at Wayne State, and I used material from there to write about the strike in the 1970s. I did research in the library of the Postal Service. I read a ton of books.
What surprised me most is the idea that today people think of the Postal Service as an organization that can’t do anything right, but through most of its history, people thought it was great. People counted on getting the mail. I wanted to answer the question of how we go from an agency people loved to one they looked down on…
Q: Benjamin Franklin plays a large role in USPS history. What were some of his most important contributions, and what is his legacy in terms of the postal service today?
A: I’m from Philadelphia. I grew up seeing people dressed as Benjamin Franklin. He’s a symbol of the city; he’s been sentimentalized and commercialized. The Postal Service is always talking about him—he was the first postmaster general.
I was skeptical going into this—Franklin did so many things, what could he have done for the Postal Service? When I did the research...[read on]