John Donovan

Contributing Writer

John is a freelance writer based in the suburbs of Atlanta. A longtime sports scribe with too much time covering college sports, the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball, he now writes on science, health, history, current events and whatever other weird non-sports stories that he and the editors at HowStuffWorks dream up. He has a journalism degree from Arizona State, a wife, a son, a dog that sheds too much and a bad case of eyestrain.

Recent Contributions

Black Men Were Cowboys Before It Was Cool

In the early 18th century, Black cowboys were the only cowboys in the West. That's because white men didn't want to do the work. So why hasn't their story been told?

Why Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Racism Exercise Is So Powerful

Jane Elliott has been exposing racist thinking for more than 50 years through her ground-breaking exercise using eye color. Some think her methodology is too harsh. She couldn't care less.

A Monumental Tribute to Crazy Horse Has Been Taking Shape for Decades

More than 70 years ago, Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear dedicated Thunderhead Mountain as the site of the Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument to honor North American Indians is still under construction.

How Buffalo Bill Became a Living, Breathing Personification of the American West

William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an American soldier, bison hunter and frontiersman. But he's perhaps best-known for being a showman and running Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

What Was the Tulsa Race Massacre and Why Does it Still Haunt the City?

The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, aka "Black Wall Street" was one of the wealthiest African American neighborhoods in the U.S. But in 1921 it was the site of the worst race massacre in U.S. history.

Shays' Rebellion: The Unsung Uprising That Helped Spark a New America

Daniel Shays was the reluctant leader of the Massachusetts insurrection that pit farmers against tax collectors just after the Revolutionary War. Its results led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

How Juneteenth Became Black Independence Day

Every year millions of Americans celebrate the emancipation of slavery on June 19. Why then? And why is it considered Black Independence Day?

5 Facts About the Wild West's Deadly 'Doc' Holliday

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was first and foremost a gambler and gunfighter. But he was also friend of Wyatt Earp and is best known for his role the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Ulysses S. Grant Was One of the Greatest Military Generals in U.S. History

As the commanding general of the Union Army, he helped save the United States during the Civil War. Grant was clearly a successful military man, but how was he as the 18th U.S. president?

Can the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Be Postponed?

The date the U.S. president must vacate office is written into the Constitution, election or not. Filling the seat without an election, though, is extremely complicated.

Wyatt Earp Wasn't the Fastest Gunslinger in the West and That Didn't Matter

Wyatt Earp was a Wild West lawman, a member of the Dodge City Peace Commission and a deputy marshal in Tombstone, Arizona. What he wasn't was the quickest man on the draw.

Why Karl Marx Was One of the Most Influential and Destructive Thinkers In History

He famously co-authored The Communist Manifesto, which would be the basis for a new political movement. But to say he is only the Father of Communism sells Karl Marx short.

Audie Murphy, From World War II Hero to Hollywood Hitmaker

America's most decorated World War II combat soldier Audie Murphy was considered a hero and Hollywood icon. But those labels came at a price that not even Murphy could pay.

What the 1919 Anti-Mask League Can Teach Us About Public Health

Despite strict closing and hygiene orders, San Francisco was hit hard by the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. But some residents balked at the rules and that meant more people died.

Why Emmett Till's Murder Shook the Conscience of the U.S.

The vicious kidnapping and lynching of Emmett Till stands out among the thousands of lynchings in the U.S. after the Civil War. What was it about his murder that made the world stand up and take notice?

Japanese Kamikazes: Heroic or Horrifying?

Toward the end of World War II, the Japanese were desperate and turned to the ultimate death squad, suicide bombers. Were these men heroes or horrible war criminals?

Need and Greed: Why the Toilet Paper Supply Remains Tight

Why after weeks and weeks is it still a problem getting toilet paper? Are people hoarding gobs of the stuff or is it more than that?

The Inconvenient Truth Behind Revolutionary Icon Che Guevara

Revolutionary Che Guevara has become the personification to all those who want to defy the establishment. But his full true story is one of a ruthless killer who died a sad, unceremonious death.

Searching for the Lost Horizon of Shangri-La

A fictional paradise created by British author James Hilton in the 1933 novel "Lost Horizon," the mystical Tibetan paradise of Shangri-La remains largely mythical, despite the Chinese effort to make it a "real" place.

NASA's Chief Sniffer's Job Is to Keep 'Stinky' Situations Out of Space

Nobody's nose knows better than NASA's George Aldrich. He's the longest-serving member of the space agency's odor panel, which basically sniffs and smells everything that goes up into space.