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Tag Archive 'alumni books'

Robert C. Williams '60

Robert C. Williams ’60

In his new book, The Forensic Historian: Using Science to Reexamine the Past (M. E. Sharpe), Robert Williams ’60 demonstrates how seemingly cold cases from history have been solved or had new light shed on them by scientists and historians using new forensic evidence. He provides examples ranging in time from Oetzi the Iceman—who died 5,300 years ago in the Swiss Alps from an arrow wound, yet is known to have had brown eyes Lyme disease, type-O blood, an intolerance to lactose, cavities, and tattoos—to the process of identifying Osama Bin Laden’s body in 2011.

Book by Robert C. Williams '60

Book by Robert C. Williams ’60

“Since World War II, forensic pathology and anthropology have slowly given way to genetics and DNA ‘fingerprinting,’ along with computer hardware and software, as scientific evidence that can stand up in court,” Williams comments in his introduction. “This book highlights that transition through specific case studies showing how modern forensic historians and scientists do their work and what kinds of evidence they must obtain.”

Samples of Beethoven’s hair and bones were found to have abnormally high levels of lead, suggesting he may have died from lead poisoning. The Shroud of Turin was carbon-dated back to the 14th century, not the 1st. The Titanic was found to have been assembled using low-quality rivets that almost certainly played a part in its sinking in 1912. These high-profile cases continue to hold the public’s fascination, and Williams provides a concise synopsis of the methods used to reach conclusions for each. Be forewarned, however, that what you hear in the news relating to cases like these will not always convey the hard science correctly.

“The media cannot wait patiently until forensic historians and scientists finish their plodding work,” writes Williams. “Thus the media often rush to create a virtual reality that encourages forensic historians to publicize their findings prematurely, often without peer review.”

Williams retired in the spring of 2003 as Vail Professor of History at Davidson College, where he served for 13 years as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. He is the author of the best-selling Historian’s Toolbox and of numerous articles and books on Russian history, including Ruling Russian Eurasia: Khans, Clans, and Tsars; Russian Art and American Money, 1900–1940 (nominated by Harvard University Press for the Pulitzer Prize); Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy; and Russia Imagined: Art, Culture, and National Identity, 1840–1995.

 

Stuart Frank '70

Stuart Frank ’70 (Photo by Mary Malloy)

Stuart Frank ’70, has been awarded the Historic New England Book Prize for 2013, for Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, published in Boston by David R. Godine. The award was formally presented on Nov. 3 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The book is also the recipient of the Boston Bookmakers Prize for the year’s best work in the pictorial category.

Book by Stuart Frank '70

Book by Stuart Frank ’70

Frank’s book brings his expert’s eye to the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s intriguing collection. By the middle of the 19th century, the New England port of New Bedford was among the five richest cities in America, and it derived its wealth from whale oil, the “fossil fuel” of the early Industrial Revolution. The New Bedford whaling fleet was the most numerous, adventurous, and far-ranging in the world, taking long voyages as far as the Antarctic and Siberia.

In their spare time, some whalemen carved materials harvested from the whales themselves: the teeth and bones of sperm whales, baleen from right and bowhead whales, and walrus tusks acquired by barter from Native people in the Arctic. These resulting practical and decorative objects made from ivory and bone were often intricately carved and carefully crafted and served as mementos and treasured souvenirs to take back home. The objects included not only decorated sperm whale teeth that the word “scrimshaw” ordinarily brings to mind, but also crimpers and canes, umbrellas, and swifts.

Stuart Frank '70 and photographer Richard Donnelly examine a whale bone banjo which was displayed earlier this year at the New Bedford Whaling Musuem.

Stuart Frank ’70 (right) and photographer Richard Donnelly examine a whale bone banjo which was displayed earlier this year at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
(Photo by Arthur Motta)

The collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum is the largest, most varied, and most representative in the world. Frank, who is senior curator at the museum, covers every possible permutation of these whalemen’s fancies. The comprehensive survey has 700 detailed and dramatic photographs by Richard Donnelly with compelling stories behind the objects themselves.

Frank, who earned master’s degrees at Yale and Brown and a Ph.D. in American civilization at Brown, is director emeritus of the Kendall Whaling Museum, and founder/director of the Scrimshaw Forensics Laboratory®. His previous books include Herman Melville’s Picture Gallery (awarded the John Lyman Book Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History), Dictionary of Scrimshaw Artists (also received the John Lyman Book Award), More Scrimshaw Artists, The Book of Pirate Songs, Jolly Sailors Bold: Ballads and Songs of the American Sailor (expanded from his doctoral dissertation), The New Book of Pirate Songs, and Scrimshaw and Provenance (published this year by Mystic Seaport).

With his wife, Mary Malloy, he has performed concert tours on four continents, presenting traditional sailors’ songs and ballads excavated from shipboard manuscripts in the New Bedford Whaling Museum collection.

David M. Rabban '71

David M. Rabban ’71

David Rabban ’71 is the author of Law’s History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History (Cambridge University Press), concentrating on the central role of history in late 19th-century American legal thought. In the decades following the Civil War, the founding generation of professional legal scholars in the United States drew from the evolutionary social thought that pervaded Western intellectual life on both sides of the Atlantic. Their historical analysis of law as an inductive science rejected deductive theories and supported moderate legal reform, conclusions that challenge conventional accounts of legal formalism.

Book by David M. Rabban '71

Book by David M. Rabban ’71

The book is unprecedented in its coverage and its illuminating conclusions about major American legal thinkers from the Civil War to the present. It considers transatlantic intellectual history, legal history, the history of legal thought, historiography, jurisprudence, constitutional theory, and the history of higher education. American scholars who are the primary focus of this book include Henry Adams, James Barr Ames, Melville M. Bigelow, James Coolidge Carter, Thomas McIntyre Cooley, William Gardiner Hammond, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Norton Pomeroy, Roscoe Pound, James Bradley Thayer, Christopher G. Tiderman and Francis Wharton.

Rabban is Dahr Jamail, Randall Hage Jamail, and the Robert Lee Jamail Regents Chair in Law and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He also is the author of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years (1997).

Book co-edited by John Whitmore '62.

Book co-edited by John Whitmore ’62.

John Whitmore ’62 has co-edited Sources of Vietnamese Tradition (Columbia University Press), a fascinating guide to 2,000 years of Vietnamese history and a comprehensive overview of the society and state of Vietnam. Well-chosen selections deal with key figures, issues, and events, and they create a thematic portrait of the country’s developing territory, politics, culture and relations with neighbors. The volume explores Vietnam’s remarkable independence in the face of Chinese and other external pressures while it recognizes the complexity of the Vietnamese experience over the years.

The anthology begins with selections that cover more than a millennium of Chinese dominance over Vietnam (111 B.C.E.–939 C.E.) and follows with texts that illuminate four centuries of independence ensured by the Ly, Tran and Ho dynasties (1009–1407). The earlier cultivation of Buddhism and Southeast Asian political practices by the monarchy gave way to two centuries of Confucian influence and bureaucratic governance (1407–1600), based on Chinese models, and three centuries of political competition between the north and the south, resolving in the latter’s favor (1600–1885).

The book’s final sections cover the colonial era and the modern age, and selections recount the ravages of war and the creation of a united, independent Vietnam in 1975. Each chapter includes readings that relate to the views, customs, outside influences on, and religious and philosophical beliefs of a rapidly changing people and culture.

Whitmore is a research associate at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, and a specialist on premodern Vietnamese and Southeast Asian history. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Virginia and the University of California-Los Angeles.

Matthew Rahaim ’00

In Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindistani Music (Wesleyan University Press), Matthew Rahaim ’00 studies the role of the body in Indian vocal music. Indian vocalists have long traced intricate shapes with their hands while improvising melody. Although every vocalist has an idiosyncratic gestural style, students inherit ways of shaping melodic space from their teachers, and the motion of the hand and voice are always intimately connected.

Book by Matthew Rahaim ’00

Musicking Bodies is among the first extended studies of the relationship between gesture and melody. Rahaim draws on years of vocal training, ethnography, and close analysis to examine the ways in which hand gesture is used alongside vocalization to manifest melody as dynamic, three-dimensional shapes. The book builds on insights of phenomenology, Indian and Western music theory, and cultural studies to illuminate not only the performance of gesture, but its implications for the transmission of culture, the conception of melody, and the very nature of the musicking body. Several helpful illustrations and photographs have been included in the publication.

Rahaim is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Minnesota. He was a music major at Wesleyan and received his MA and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

(Story contributed by Laignee Johnson ’13)

Book by Ray Silverman MAT ’67

Was Johnny Appleseed a real person? Author and professor Ray Silverman MAT ’67 addresses this question and and many others about the American folk figure in his new book, The Core of Johnny Appleseed: The Unknown Story of a Spiritual Trailblazer (Swedenborg Foundation Press). Silverman’s spiritual biography of Johnny Chapman, the man who came to be known as Johnny Appleseed, seeks to separate reality from legend and find the real man behind all the tall-tale misconceptions. The book depicts Chapman as a businessman full of Christian conviction.

Silverman leaves behind portraits of Chapman as a wandering ascetic or wild hedonist and instead charts the course of a thoughtful and passionate Christian, deeply moved by and dedicated to sharing the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg. As a businessman, Chapman owned 19 nurseries and 20 other land plots in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  As a Christian, Chapman was dissatisfied with the teachings of the Congregational Church and turned instead to spreading the doctrines of the New Church. In contrast to Calvinist-influenced manifest destiny, beliefs of predestination, and heaven and hell, Chapman believed instead that God means love and that all people were created in God’s image and are deserving of God’s love.

Well-researched and illustrated, the book provides a new perspective on the Johnny Appleseed of childhood legends.

Silverman is the associate professor of religion, English, and moral philosophy at Bryn Athyn College and is an adjunct instructor at Urbana University, home to the Johnny Appleseed Education Center and the Chapman School of Leadership in Sustainability. This is Silverman’s second book in addition to editing Helen Keller’s spiritual autobiography Light in My Darkness.

Ellen Forney ’89 (Photo by Jacob Peter Fennell)

(Story contributed by Laignee Barron ’13)

Ellen Forney ’89 is the author of a new graphic novel Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me (Gotham Books), which follows the artist’s diagnosis with bipolar disorder shortly before her 30th birthday. In this intimate confession, Forney delves into her struggles with being accepted into “Club van Gogh.” “This unflinchingly honest memoir” (Kirkus Reviews) details Forney’s fears that her disorder could curtail her creativity and livelihood.

Beginning with the manic state that led to her diagnosis, Forney explores what it means to be a “crazy artist.” At first disbelieves her psychiatrist, Forney is filled with the high of mania, planning parties and keeping busy with cartooning work in an unnervingly productive binge. (“I don’t want balance, I want brilliance,” she exclaims.) But the manic cycle eventually breaks, and Forney continues chronicling her experience as she descends into a violent episode of depression. She eventually becomes convinced of her diagnosis and decides to enter the endless experimentation to find the right dosage or cocktail of medication.

The novel alternates between Forney’s bold cartoonish comics, realist illustrations, and photo-like representations of her sketchpad. At once heartbreaking and unabashedly funny, Forney’s novel was written with the intention to share her journey with others facing similar circumstances. This new novel closely illuminates the struggles of a bipolar woman, while provoking questions of what mental disorders means to artists.

Graphic novel by Ellen Forney ’89

In her Entertainment Weekly review, Melissa Maerz writes that “the book is surprisingly fun to read, bursting with manic adventures (illicit hookups! costume parties! spontaneous tattoos!), cautionary tales (one emotional crash leaves her in a forest, hugging a tree), and wild drawings that perfectly illustrate her mood swings. By the time [Forney] finds the right treatment, Marbles isn’t just a great story; it’s proof that artists don’t have to be tortured to be brilliant.”

Forney is an Eisner-nominated cartoonist living in Seattle, Washington. She has created two other comic books, I Love Led Zeppelin and Monkey Food. She also collaborated with Sherman Alexie on the National Book Award-winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She teaches comics at the Cornish College of the Arts.

Visit the Ellen Forney website.

Are you a Wesleyan alumnus? For more alumni stories, photo albums, videos, features and more, visit Wesconnect, the website for Wesleyan alumni.

John Stauffer ’91

(Story contributed by Gabe Rosenberg ’16)

Harvard University professor John Stauffer ’91 is the co-editor of The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry Raid (Belnap Press of Harvard University Press). Co-edited with Zoe Trodd (professor of American literature at the University of Nottingham), the book assembles a collection of responses to John Brown’s 1859 attack on a federal arsenal in Virginia.

The ill-fated raid of Brown and 21 other men–five free black and 16 white men–was intended to provoke an uprising of African Americans against the “scourge of slavery.” While three members formed a rearguard at a nearby farm in Maryland, the rest of the men seized the federal buildings of Harper’s Ferry and cut the surrounding telegraph wires, waiting to be joined by local slaves. Townspeople and U.S. Marines captured or killed most of Brown’s forces, whose reinforcements never arrived, and Brown was put on trial for murder, treason, and conspiracy to incite a slave insurrection.

In a letter written four days before his execution, Brown remarks that he leaves “it to an impartial tribunal to decide whether the world has been the worse or the better of my living and dying in it.” The Tribunal brings together John Brown’s own words with Northern, Southern, and international responses to the raid in the forms of speeches, letters, newspaper articles, journals, poems, and songs.

The Tribunal, co-edited by John Stauffer ’91

His actions cast him as a contentious symbol of American culture: a martyr and a madman, a freedom fighter, and a domestic terrorist. From their collected documents, Stauffer and Trodd theorize that Harper’s Ferry changed the landscape of American politics, set the course for the Civil War, and subsequently influenced emancipation on a global scale.

Stauffer is professor of English and African and African American studies at Harvard University. His recent works include best-sellers Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and The State of Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, co-written with author Sally Jenkins, that tells the true story of Jones County, MS, the only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy.

Are you a Wesleyan alumnus? For more alumni stories, photo albums, videos, features and more, visit Wesconnect, the website for Wesleyan alumni.

(Contributed by Gabe Rosenberg ’16)

Nadine Angress ’90, daughter of the late Werner "Tom" Angress ’49, holds a copy of her father's book.

Nadine Angress ’90, daughter of the late Werner “Tom” Angress ’49, holds a copy of her father’s book.

Two years after he passed away, Werner T. Angress ’49 is having his story told to the world – again.

While Angress found himself as a prominent subject of another Wesleyan alum’s book – The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue From Nazi Germany (The History Press, 2011), Robert Gillette ’59’s history of the successful rescue effort of 21 Jewish adolescents during World War II – he finished translating his own memoir from German to English.  Angress died before either account of his life could be released, however, so his children took it upon themselves to publish his story.

Angress’ family, including Nadine Angress ’90, independently released the translated, completed work under his name through Amazon.com as Witness to the Storm: A Jewish Journey from Nazi Berlin to the 82nd Airborne, 1920-1945.  The memoir tells of Angress’ life as “a patriotic German-Jewish boy who in his teens was rejected and betrayed by the Nazi regime.”  He fled to the United States, where he took refuge as a chicken farmer at Hyde Farms, a haven provided by Virginia department store owner William Thalhimer – and the focus of Gillette’s history.

Raphael Linden ’15 holds a copy of his grandfather's posthumous memoir.

Raphael Linden ’15 holds a copy of his grandfather’s posthumous memoir.

From there, Angress joined the United States Army, trained as an interrogator, jumped as a paratrooper on D-Day and helped liberate a concentration camp near his hometown.  Through the G.I. Bill, he returned home after the war and attended Wesleyan, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and becoming a history professor.

Angress chose to retire to Berlin, “where he spent his last years talking to German schoolchildren about what it was like to grow up Jewish under the Third Reich, and working to promote tolerance and peace.”

Witness to the Storm is available to purchase online at Amazon.com, in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Paul Dickson '61

The prolific Paul Dickson ’61 is the author of the book Bill Veeck: Baseball Maverick (Walker Books), the first major biography of one of the most influential and smartest figures in baseball history. Dickson used primary sources, including more than 100 interviews to tell the story of Veeck (1914-1986) who was a baseball impresario, an innovator, and a staunch advocate of racial equality. Admired by baseball fans, Veeck was known for his promotional genius for the sport, while his feel for the game led him to propose innovations way ahead of their time. His deep sense of fairness helped usher in free agency, breaking the power owners had over players.

Book by Paul Dickson '61

In a recent interview with MLB Reports, Dickson says: “I had always wanted to write a biography and felt that if it were to be a sports biography it had to be about a transformational character in the history of sports which Veeck was. I also wanted to able to tell a story in the context of the subject’s time. Because of Veeck’s interest in racial equality, his position as a war veteran and amputee, and his genius as a promoter and businessman, he was perfect. He was also witty, provocative and drew outside the lines. He attracted the descriptor ‘maverick’ more than any other figure in sports before or since.”

In a review of the book in the Chicago Sun-Times, Dave Hoekstra calls Dickson’s book  “a comprehensive, steady and spirited work. Dickson had a challenge, as Veeck’s 1962 autobiography, Veeck as in Wreck, ranks with Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season and Jim Bouton’s Ball Four as essential baseball literature. Dickson brings a keen eye to his subject. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the Maryland-based author who also wrote a baseball book called The Joy of Keeping Score.”

Dickson’s subject is a fascinating one. Early in his career, Veeck worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field. In his late 20s, Veeck bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. He volunteered for combat duty during World War II, enduring a leg injury. Next, he purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946—the first of four midwestern teams he would own.

Veeck tried to bring Negro League players to the majors earlier without success. But in the summer of 1947, Veeck integrated his team by signing Larry Doby, the American League’s first black player, and hiring the first black public relations officer, trainer, and scout. A year later, Veeck also signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series (Cleveland’s last championship to this day).

Dickson is the author of more than 40 books, including The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The Joy of Keeping Score, Baseball’s Greatest Quotations, and Baseball: The Presidents’ Game. In addition to baseball, his specialties include Americana and language. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.  (Paul Dickson web site)

Lawrence P. Jackson '90

Lawrence P. Jackson ’90 is the author of My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War (University of Chicago Press). Part detective story and part wrenching family history, the book delves into the history of Jackson’s family in slavery and emancipation in Virginia’s Pittsylvania County.

Johnson’s publication was recently featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. This summer, n+ magazine,a publication of literature, culture and politics, will include a long essay with sections from the book.

Book by Lawrence P. Jackson '90

Jackson’s research led him to the house of distant relations. He then became absorbed by the search for his ancestors and aware of how few generations an African American needs to map back in order to arrive at slavery, “a door of no return.” Jackson delved into libraries, census records, and courthouse registries and traced his family to his grandfather’s grandfather, a man who was born or sold into slavery but who, when Federal troops abandoned the South in 1877, was able to buy 40 acres of land.

Jackson’s book vividly reconstructs moments in the lives of his father’s grandfather, Edward Jackson, and great-grandfather, Granville Hundley, and gives life to revealing narratives of Pittsylvania County, recalling both the horror of slavery and the later struggles of postbellum freedom. The story told is one of haunting familiarity to many Americans, who may question whether the promises of emancipation have ever truly been fulfilled.

Jackson is a professor of English and African-American studies at Emory University, where he specializes in African-American literature and literary history. His previous book, The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 (Princeton University Press), won the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Award for black literature in 2011. He is currently writing a full-length biography of the African-American writer Chester Himes.

Book by David Rynick '74

David Rynick ‘74 is the author of This Truth Never Fails: A Zen Memoir in Four Seasons (Wisdom Publications). This intimate collection of short observations and reflections is a personal record of ongoing practice and study of the extraordinary experience we call ordinary life. Although the volume was written over a period of several years, the brief sections are arranged into the cycle of the seasons of a single year. Each piece stands alone but is also part of an overall narrative that involves leaving a home of 18 years and creating a Zen temple in a lovely old Victorian mansion.

The memoir includes a brief study guide for further inquiry, which offers opportunities for personal reflection and exploration on themes touched on in the book.

Rynick is a Zen teacher authorized in two lineages, a Korean Linji heritage and a Japanese Soto one. He is the resident teacher of the Boundless Way Zen Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, Melissa Myozen Blacker ’76, also a Zen teacher. Since 1991 he has worked as a life and leadership coach, providing faith-based coaching to individuals and peer coaching for clergy from diverse faiths.

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