The Colgate Scene
May 2008

Books and media

Information is provided by publishers, authors, and artists.

C. Norman Noble '57
(Ironwood Publishing)

In C. Norman Noble's latest fiction novel, a prestigious American electronics company designs and develops a terrain avoidance/terrain following system that is undetectable by enemy radar. Then mysteriously, the Soviets end up with the design by way of a Chinese broker. A mole, deep within the GRU, reveals the theft to his CIA counterpart. The FBI quickly determines that the culprit is the company's vice president of marketing, who was born in China, speaks fluent Mandarin, and was photographed making a "drop" in front of the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C. The only problem is that he didn't do it, and his own investigation reveals that the company's vice president of engineering is most likely the perpetrator. The surprise ending reveals the real perpetrator and unfolds the details of the crime.

Bob Luke '63
(University of Texas Press)

Willie Wells was one of the best shortstops of his generation, yet few people have ever heard of the feisty baseball player nicknamed "El Diablo." Wells was black, and he played long before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. In Willie Wells: "El Diablo" of the Negro Leagues, Bob Luke has sifted through the statistics, interviewed Negro League players and historians, and combed the letters and newspaper accounts of Wells's life to draw a complete portrait of this important baseball player. Luke also details how the lingering effects of segregation hindered black players long after the policy officially ended.

Michael Virtanen '76
(Lost Pond Press)

Michael Virtanen's mystery novel tells the story of Jack Kirkland, who travels to the Adirondack Mountains to investigate the death of a well-to-do engineer. Prior to Kirkland's investigation, he expects to uncover medical malpractice, but instead, he finds evidence of murder and falls in love with the only suspect, the dead man's girlfriend. Will Kirkland give up his shot at happiness to reveal the truth?

Alan Filreis '78
(University of North Carolina Press)

During the Cold War, an unlikely coalition of poets, editors, and politicians converged in an attempt to discredit the American modernist avant-garde, asserts Alan Filreis in his new book. Ideologically diverse yet willing to bespeak their hatred of modern poetry through the rhetoric of anticommunism, these "anticommunist antimodernists," as Filreis dubs them, joined associations such as the League for Sanity in Poetry to decry the modernist "conspiracy" against form and language. Filreis narrates the story of this movement and assesses its effect on American poetry and poetics.

By analyzing correspondence, decoding pseudonyms, drawing new connections through the archives, and conducting interviews, Filreis shows that an informal network of antimodernists was effective in suppressing or distorting the postwar careers of many poets whose work had appeared regularly in the 1930s. Filreis's analysis provides new insight into why experimental poetry aroused such fear and alarm among American conservatives.

Jeff Bjorck '83
(Pure Piano Music, BMI)

The fourth CD of Jeff Bjorck's solo piano series, This I Know includes nine new hymn arrangements and six returning favorites. Bjorck's inspiration for this CD was the old hymns he grew up listening to at home and singing in church, which is why he calls this "a project 47 years in the making." Through his unique arrangements, he creates a fresh approach to these hymns. A review of the CD on states, "Bjorck brings a wealth of experience and emotional depth to these timeless classics, making them his own and presenting them as deeply personal expressions of his faith."

Louis Markos '86
(InterVarsity Press, 2007)

In From Achilles to Christ, Louis Markos introduces readers to the great narratives of classical mythology from a Christian perspective. From the battles of Achilles and the adventures of Odysseus to the feats of Hercules and the trials of Aeneas, Markos shows how the characters, themes, and symbols within these myths both foreshadow and find their fulfillment in the story of Jesus Christ, the "myth made fact." Along the way, he dispels misplaced fears about the dangers of reading classical literature, and offers a Christian approach to the interpretation and appropriation of these great literary works.

Nicholas D. Jackson '95
(Cambridge University Press)

This is the first full account of one of the most famous quarrels of the 17th century, that between the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588—1679) and the Anglican archbishop of Armagh, John Bramhall (1594—1663). Nicholas Jackson's analytical narrative interprets that quarrel within its own immediate and complicated historical circumstances, the Civil Wars (1638—1649) and Interregnum (1649—1660). Jackson explains how the personal clash of Hobbes and Bramhall is connected to the broader conflict, disorder, violence, dislocation, and exile that characterized those periods. Hobbes, Bramhall and the Politics of Liberty and Necessity offers not only the first comprehensive narrative of their hostilities over two decades, but also an illuminating analysis of aspects of their private and public quarrel that have been neglected in previous accounts, with special attention devoted to their dispute over political and religious authority.

Andrew J. Rotter
(Oxford University Press)

The U.S. decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 remains one of the most controversial events of the 20th century. Andrew Rotter contests that the controversy over dropping the bomb has obscured the truths about the development of this weapon.
As Rotter explains, the principle of killing enemy civilians from the air was already well established by 1945 and had been practiced on numerous occasions by both sides during World War II. Moreover, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was conceived and built by an international community of scientists, and other nations were also developing atomic bombs in the first half of the 1940s. Therefore, he argues, any combatant nation would have used the bomb had it been able to obtain one, but Americans were the first.
Rotter uncovers this new history to show that the atomic bomb dropped by the United States was, in many ways, the world's offspring, in both a technological and a moral sense. And it was the world that would have to face its consequences, strategically, diplomatically, and culturally, in the years ahead.

Rotter is the Charles A. Dana Professor of history and acting director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.

Wendy L. Wall
(Oxford University Press)

In Inventing the "American Way," Wendy Wall challenges the vision of all-encompassing national unity among Americans in the wake of World War II as postwar affluence and the Cold War factored into the nation's values. Wall argues that Americans were united not so much by identical beliefs as by a shared conviction that a distinctive "American Way" existed and that the affirmation of such common ground was essential to the future of the nation. Wall traces the competing efforts of business groups, politicians, leftist intellectuals, interfaith proponents, and civil rights activists over nearly three decades to shape public understandings of the "American Way." By uncovering the culture wars of the mid-20th century, this book sheds new light on a period that proved pivotal for American national identity and that remains the unspoken backdrop for debates over multiculturalism, national unity, and public values today.

Inventing the "American Way" was awarded the Organization of American Historians' 2008 Ellis W. Hawley Prize, which is given annually for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the Unites States in its domestic or international affairs from the Civil War to the present.

Wall is assistant professor of history.
Also of note:

In Kafka Comes to America (Other Press), Steven Wax '70 contends that under the current Bush administration, not only are the civil rights of foreigners in jeopardy, but those of U.S. citizens are as well. A federal public defender, Wax weaves together the stories of two innocent men whom he and his team represented when they were arrested as terrorist suspects. Wax argues that civil liberties have been eroded in the wake of September 11 for a false security. The book will be available on June 3.

Read a profile of Wax.

The Day Dad Ran Out of Kisses (Vantage Press, Inc.) by Bruce A. Healey '84 teaches young readers about relationships through the story of the Gubbins boys, who learn the significance of returning their stay-at-home dad's love and affection.

Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes Present (University of Iowa Press) is a collection of essays reflecting on Walt Whitman's legacy, Leaves of Grass. Edited by David Haven Blake '85 and Michael Robertson, the collection is by 10 essayists who offer diverse perspectives on Whitman's place in both world literature and American public life.

Colgate bestsellers at the Colgate Bookstore
In An Instant — Bob '83 and Lee '82 Woodruff
The Memory Keeper's Daughter — Kim Edwards '81
Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Physics — Vic Mansfield (physics and astronomy)
Inventing the "American Way" — Wendy L. Wall (history)
Unlearning to Fly — Jennifer Brice (English)
I Don't Believe in Atheists — Chris Hedges '79
Common Nonsense — Andy Rooney '42
Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide — Kevin Trainor '74
Creating Market Socialism — Carolyn Hsu (sociology)
Education for a Caring Society — D. Kay Johnston (educational studies and women's studies)
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