Bookshelf: Fall 2014


With forewords by Sidney Poitier and Elmore Leonard, you know that I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History (University of Wisconsin Press) by Walter Mirisch ’42 is going to be quite a read. If you’re a movie buff — and even if you aren’t — you know Mirisch’s work. His company has produced some of the film world’s most enduring classics, including West Side Story, The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Pink Panther, Fiddler on the Roof, Irma La Douce, and so many others. That work has led to eighty-seven Academy Award nominations, twenty-eight Oscars, and numerous other major industry awards. In Mirisch’s moving, candid, star-filled memoir — illustrated with rare photos from his personal collection — he tells a lifetime’s worth of astounding stories about how movies get made and shares his hard-won insight with gentle humor.


Right from the start, you have to love a book called Some Dead Genius (Niaux-Noir Books). And then you love the cover. And then you love the wit of the author, Lenny Kleinfeld ’69 of Los Angeles, who calls this sequel to his work Shooters and Chasers a “(very) black comedy crime fiction.” He’s been raking in the kudos for his funny, thrilling, and well-crafted mystery, which follows two Chicago homicide detectives as they investigate the murder of a famous painter and unearth a seven-year-long trail of very talented corpses. Kleinfeld began his career as a playwright and columnist, and his work has appeared in many national publications. (And, he’s married to National Public Radio correspondent Ina Jaffe ’72. NPR fans, swoon now!)

teaching students to write

Even — or perhaps especially — in our increasingly digital world, writing is important, and teaching young people to write well is crucial. Randy Hanson ’71 of DeForest, Wisconsin, addresses this in Teaching Students to Write and Think Well: Strategies for Using Writing as a Tool for Teaching in All Curricular Areas (CreateSpace). He provides a big-picture view of how writing produces better thinkers, practical strategies for nurturing good writers, research-based explanations of why these strategies work, and ideas for offering efficient, quality feedback to writers.


Take flight through the solar system with the Cheshire cat moon and all of his cosmic friends in the whimsical The Cheshire Cat Moon — a blend of rich vocabulary, charming illustrations, science, and fun by author BJ (Elizabeth) Ermenc ’75 of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s HenschelHAUS Publishing, founded by Kira Henschel ’77, published the work in collaboration with Ermenc’s firm, Castle Course.


Jack Hart PhD’75 has a long list of accomplishments and awards as a writing coach, university professor, former managing editor of the Oregonian, and nonfiction author. It’s his third book, a fiction work called Skookum Summer: A Novel of the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington Press), that’s come to our attention now. The work is set in 1981, when a dejected prodigal son returns to a dying, Washington-state mill town that’s “beset by meth and murder.” Hart is pleased to live in a more uplifting place — on an island near Gig Harbor, Washington.


Stuart Rojstaczer ’77’s comic and bittersweet debut novel, The Mathematician’s Shiva (Penguin Books), begins with the death of a UW professor who’s a famous, Polish émigré mathematician. Her family wants to grieve in peace, but a ragtag group of mathematicians crashes her shiva — the formal mourning period observed in Judaism — looking for clues to the deceased’s rumored solution to a famous math problem. The result, says the author, is “delightful chaos,” as well as a fresh take on the tensions among generations that inhabit most families. Rojstaczer — a consultant on water issues and a former Duke University professor of geophysics — lives in Stanford, California, but most of his novel takes place in Madison.


Ann Wertz Garvin MS’90, PhD’97 has been teaching about health and nutrition as a UW-Whitewater professor and publishing in the area of exercise and mental health since graduation. Then she started writing fiction, won accolades for it, and became a creative-writing instructor in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University as well. Berkley Penguin published her first book, On Maggie’s Watch, in 2010, and now it’s published The Dog Year, which author Jacquelyn Mitchard sums up as “the story of a woman who had everything, lost everything, and now wants to shoplift the rest. … It is hilarious, until it’s poignant, until it’s heartbreaking.”


Looking at a photo of For the Love of Letterpress: A Printing Handbook for Instructors & Students (Bloomsbury) makes lovers of paper want to run their fingers across its subtly textured cover and find out what delights dwell inside — and there are many. The book blends beautiful, innovative, and carefully selected images of letterpress printing with easy how-tos. It’s the work of Martha Chiplis MFA’91 and Cathie Ruggie Saunders MA’75, MFA’76, who make it clear why a fifteenth-century printing technology still appeals to a twenty-first-century digital society. Chiplis lives in Berwyn, Illinois. Saunders, of River Forest, Illinois, is the proprietor of The Hosanna Press. Both authors teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Recent events in war-torn Syria have inspired Lilas Taha MS’92 of Sugar Land, Texas, to write Shadows of Damascus (Soul Mate Publishing), which centers on the promise that an American soldier serving in Iraq makes to a Syrian man who saves his life in battle. What transpires unexpectedly five years later involves more danger, intrigue, emotional upheaval, and hidden love. Lilas was born in Kuwait, has deep roots in the Middle East, and says that she received exceptional support from the UW community when she was a student.


The intense but redemptive book In Warm Blood: Prison and Privilege, Hurt and Heart (HenschelHAUS Publishing) is based on letters written by and to Judith Gwinn Adrian PhD’93, a professor at Madison’s Edgewood College, and DarRen Morris, the fourteenth of eighteen children who was born into poverty with a hearing disability and mental illness, and who is serving a one-hundred-year prison term. His story is interwoven with that of Adrian’s father, who was born to a wealthy family, and who served only three months of his fifteen-year prison sentence. Says one reviewer, “It plumbs the depths, even with brave humor, of our correctional system and all the … unrealized potential that results from our blindness and numbness and disinterest in knowing.”


Wisconsin’s first public school teacher was a Stockbridge Indian who taught white children and the youth of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in a log building near present-day Kaukauna in 1828. (Imagine the state at that pioneering time!) Her story comes alive in Karyn Kandler Saemann ’93’s Electa Quinney: Stockbridge Teacher (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), and UW-Milwaukee’s Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education honors her today. Saemann is a freelance writer, editor, and reviewer. She and her spouse, Eric Saemann ’92, are enrolled members of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and live in Deerfield.


Scott Helman ’97 and Jenna Russell are both Boston Globe reporters, making them the ideal co-authors to write a story you already know — that of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing — but in a fresh, comprehensive way. Long Mile Home: Boston under Attack, the City’s Courageous Recovery, and the Epic Hunt for Justice (Dutton Adult) chronicles the lives of five people who were caught up in the attack and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the major American city, public officials, everyday people, distance-running community, and perpetrators who were affected by the bombing and its aftermath.


Madisonian Forrest Aguirre MA’99’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in more than sixty magazines and anthologies, and now he’s published his first novel, Heraclix and Pomp: A Novel of the Fabricated and the Fey (Underland Press). In this fantastic tale, Heraclix was dead but has now been reanimated, and Pomp was nearly murdered by an evil necromancer but is now immortal. As the pair travel through Europe (with a side trip to hell), they struggle to understand who and what they now are, and they run into that necromancer once again — this time seeking his own immortality.


From the founders of the food website The Heavy Table comes Lake Superior Flavors: A Field Guide to Food and Drink along the Circle Tour (University of Minnesota Press), a “celebration of food culture around the shores of the greatest of the Great Lakes.” Author James Norton ’99 and photographer Becca (Rebecca) Dilley ’02 hit the high-traffic tourist spots and cultural institutions, as well as the lesser-known gems and farmers’ markets; meet food producers and artisans; explore the culinary history and current food culture of four distinct regions; and even try foraging from the land and lake.


If you love reading about plucky characters, redemption, healing, second chances, and the transformative power of sisterhood, then Susan Gloss JD’04’s debut novel, Vintage (William Morrow) just may be the one you recommend as the next read for your book club. Centered on a fictional vintage-clothing shop in Madison, three women who are experiencing their own brands of pain inhabit, transform, and rescue the store — and each other. Gloss is a Madison attorney, a blogger at, and the proprietor of her own vintage shop on Etsy called Cleverly Curated.


Emma Straub MFA’08 has been raking in rave reviews as a rising literary star, and her latest book has only added to the buzz that surrounds her first works, Other People We Married and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. That latest is The Vacationers (Riverhead Books), “a deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of a family’s two-week stay in Mallorca, Spain.” Straub, of Brooklyn, New York, has published fiction and nonfiction in prominent publications and is a staff writer for Rookie, an online publication for teenaged girls.

it can happen here“A successful, right-wing revolution has never happened in America,” writes New Yorker Claire Sacks Sprague ’46, MA’47, PhD’55, “but it does happen in three daring fictions. Call them speculative, counter factual, or just plain ahistorical,” these novels are the subject of her most recent book, It Can Happen Here: Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, Philip Roth (CreateSpace) — works that “share an unsettling vision of malignant realities beneath American democratic rhetoric.” Now a professor emerita of English at Brooklyn College, CUNY, Sprague has also taught at Reed College, NYU, and elsewhere, and she has published on writers as diverse as Doris Lessing and Van Wyck Brooks. For many years, Sprague produced a radio program in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on gender issues.

ThurstonianClinical psychologist John Thurston ’49, MA’50 taught psychology at UW-Eau Claire for thirty years and completed considerable longitudinal research in nursing education and juvenile delinquency during that time. He retired in 1986 as a professor emeritus, has traveled extensively, and began recreational writing in 1990. His latest work — of many — is The Thurstonian Theory (Dog Ear Publishing), in which he asserts that chance deserves equal billing with nature and nurture as major determinants of human behavior; it’s impossible to fully understand oneself; the notions of choice, personal responsibility, and control over one’s conduct are illusions; and more.

lines-pulled from“I taught high school English until four years ago,” writes Marlene Arbetter Mitchel ’53 of Wilmette, Illinois, “and now in my retirement, I discovered that I am a poet! … I feel like I am in a second life!” Her book of poems, called Lines (CreateSpace), is the latest in a series of writing experiences that began early: upon entering the UW in 1949, Mitchel was among the first students to participate in a new major called home economics and journalism, and she was also a staffer for the Daily Cardinal and the Ag Journal.

One reviewer has called Gordon Grigsby MA’54, PhD’60 an “essential Mid-Western poet, a hard-scrabbled farmer of words, a steel-worker tending to the furnaces of an imagination that flares in darkness” — essence that runs throughout Grigsby’s third book of poetry, Dawn Night Fall. His house on a river in Mount Air, Ohio, serves as his portal to the natural world, history, travel, and complex human experiences. The managing editor at Evening Street Press, which published the work, is Barbara Bergmann ’66, PhD’73 of Columbus, Ohio.

walking corpsesInformed by recent bioarchaeological research, Walking Corpses: Leprosy in Byzantium and the Medieval West (Cornell University Press) offers the first account of medieval leprosy that integrates the history of East and West, challenges a number of misconceptions and myths about medieval attitudes, and includes three key Greek texts regarding what is today known as Hansen’s disease, one of which had never been translated into English before. Co-author John Nesbitt MA’62, PhD’73 has retired as a research fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and lives in Washington, D.C.

Return to VenjanMary Johnson Corcoran MS’66 and her cousin Luana Vaupotic have written Return to Venjan: The Search for Our Swedish Roots (Lulu). It tells the story of their ancestors in Sweden, details Corcoran’s trip to Sweden’s Venjan parish in 2007 to participate in its four-hundredth anniversary and to learn more about her heritage, and offers a detailed genealogy, which earned the book a review in Swedish American Genealogist.

Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America (Cambridge University Press) by Robert May MA’66, PhD’69 was recognized as one of six finalists — out of 114 entries — for the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and was honored at an April ceremony that also honored Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. May’s work challenges the way in which historians interpret the causes of the American Civil War, suggesting the possibility that the expansion of slavery southward toward Latin America and the Caribbean — rather than westward — provoked passionate controversy. May is a history professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Blood HonorTwo new e-books, published by Perfect Bound Marketing, are the work of Dianne Post ’69, JD’78. Blood & Honor: A Mother’s Heritage, A Daughter’s Revenge, set in Wisconsin, depicts how “three generations of women battle prejudice and war in their own way and ultimately show what a family is made of.” And Twisted Justice: Victim or Perpetrator? tells what happens when “a miscarriage of justice turns the tables on the perpetrator with an unexpected intertwining of lives, reality, and freedom.” Post has focused her career as an attorney on eradicating the inequality of women and now writes fictional narratives about women.

mau mau's childrenIn Mau Mau’s Children: The Making of Kenya’s Postcolonial Elite (University of Wisconsin Press), David Sandgren MA’69, PhD’76 reconnects with the students he taught in 1963 in a rural Kenyan school for boys and provides a collective biography of the nation’s first postcolonial elite, stretching from their childhood in the 1940s to the peak of their careers in the 1990s. His interviews reveal the trauma of growing up during the Mau Mau Rebellion, the nature of Kenyan nationalism, generational conflicts, and more. Sandgren is a professor of history at Concordia College-Moorhead in Minnesota.

the sabermetric revolutionIn case you’re a little unclear on the definition of sabermetrics, it’s the term for the empirical analysis of baseball — especially the statistics that measure in-game activity. In The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball (University of Pennsylvania Press), co-author Andrew Zimbalist ’69 traces the rapid growth of sabermetrics, explores how much of it is fad and fact, and offers an accessible primer on the real math behind “moneyball.” Zimbalist is the Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; a media commentator; a sports-industry consultant and economist; and was the subject of a Spring 2013 On Wisconsin feature story.

TennisIf tennis is your racket, Terry Geurkink ’70, MD’78 has a book for you: Tennis Training Games and Tips for Ambitious Coaches, Players, and Parents (Sugar River Press). That title sums up the book, but not the author: he’s a semi-retired emergency-medicine physician and a long-time high school tennis coach who lives in Belleville, Wisconsin.

9781491723067_COVER.inddWhat do Mormons believe? Warren Mueller ’73, MS’75 explores this question and many more in Truth Seeker: Mormon Scriptures & the Bible: An Interpretation of Another Testament of Jesus Christ (iUniverse) by providing insights into the denomination and how it compares to and contrasts with other belief systems. In addition to writing, Mueller, of Edwardsville, Illinois, manages a group of environmental scientists and engineers at a utility company.

language contact in the early colonial pacificLinguists, social scientists, and historians of Oceania may find much to interest them in Language Contact in the Early Colonial Pacific: Maritime Polynesian Pidgin before Pidgin English (Cambridge University Press), a historical-sociolinguistic study by Emanuel Drechsel MA’74, MA’76, PhD’79. He’s a senior faculty member of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

eat smart in denmarkThe co-author of a new culinary guide to Danish cuisine is Carol “Orange” Ehrlich Schroeder MA’74 — a familiar name to Madtown locals who have visited Orange Street Imports, a gift and gourmet shop on Monroe Street that Schroeder has owned for several decades with her husband. Her work, Eat Smart in Denmark, is the latest edition of the Eat Smart guides, published by Joan Baier Peterson ’61, MS’72, PhD’75 and her Madison-based Ginkgo Press. Researching the book allowed Schroeder to travel to Denmark with her daughter, Katrina, to explore the past and present of Danish edibles.

motivating and retaining online studentsWith online learning now operating as a formidable force in the educational system, the third book that Rosemary Freeman Lehman MA’77, PhD’91 and Simone Conceição PhD’01 have co-authored comes at an excellent time. Motivating and Retaining Online Students: Research-Based Strategies that Work (Jossey-Bass Publishers) addresses the high dropout rate associated with online learning, provides strategies to reduce it, supports faculty as they design new strategies, and allows for student diversity and learner differences. Lehman was a lead instructional designer for the UW-Extension for more than two decades and is now an online instructor and partner in eInterface. Conceição is a UW-Milwaukee professor of education and the coordinator of its Adult and Continuing Education Leadership program.

desperate measuresWhen a wormhole opens up on the outskirts of the Terran solar system, the local security council wishes to explore it, fortify itself against a possible alien invasion, and, ultimately, deal with the blob-like natives that they do find there in Kathleen Nelson ’81’s fifth novel, the sci-fi Desperate Measures (Dragon Moon Press). Nelson, of Santa Clara, California, has also written The Human Thing, Daughter of Dragons, The Dragon Reborn, and Fish Stories.

judgment of the eldersIf you’re “a noble fae and knight of Whiteleaf,” as the main character in Gregg Schwartzkopf MA’81’s fantasy book Judgment of the Elders (Smashwords) is, here’s some advice: do not go sneaking into the Realm of Mortals to party with the humans. That’s because when you’re found out, the Elder Council will turn you into a teenage girl who goes to a Catholic school in Long Island, New York. As the author says, “Complications ensue.” Schwartzkopf, of Brooklyn, New York, is a vocational rehabilitation specialist for an insurance company.

kashiTerin Tashi Miller ’84 of Maplewood, New Jersey, has been a prolific writer throughout his globetrotting life, with his “Hemingwayesque” work appearing in guidebooks, international magazines, and prominent newspapers. He published two novels in 2013 — a novel set in India called Kashi (Author’s Empire India) and a Texas thriller called Sympathy for the Devil (White & MacLean), which earned an Honorable Mention at the 2014 Great Southwest Book Festival — and you should expect quite a few more in the near future. When he’s not writing, Miller is a high achiever in other ways: in 2012, he earned certification as a fourth-degree black-belt master instructor from the World Taekwondo Federation.

luciferin at duskOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo recent paranormal suspense e-book novels have come from the mind of Deborah Ellis ’92, who writes as D.R. Ellis. Luciferin ~ At Dusk follows a woman, her nephew, and his dog as their summer sojourn in the country is marked by a shocking discovery, disturbing visits from both the living and the dead, and evil lurking in the background. Ellis’s Residents at Silver Maple Sanitarium finds a couple purchasing a shuttered, rural-Wisconsin hospital that’s alive with ghosts. The psychic female owner and others become pawns in a supernatural drama and victims of a former patient who begins a brutal psychic attack. According to reader reviews, Ellis, of Morriston, Florida, produces some really scary stuff.

south korea's riseIn South Korea’s Rise: Economic Development, Power, and Foreign Relations (Cambridge University Press), Terence Roehrig PhD’95 proposes a new theoretical framework to understand how South Korea’s phenomenal ascent and increase in economic prosperity can bring about changes in foreign policy. He’s a professor of national security affairs and the director of the Asia-Pacific Studies Group at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

out of the pocketBlythe Boge Stanfel ’96’s novel, Out of the Pocket (Library Tales Publishing), is a young-adult work of historical fiction that presents the Iraq War through the eyes of a high school football player, Mercer, whose father is an army major stationed in Iraq. Readers who have parents away at war will relate to the main character, but they can also view war through the typical Iraqi teenager who corresponds with Mercer as his father’s translator. Stanfel, a university instructor who lives in Clive, Iowa, loves to bring literature and writing to life for her students.

william james, sciences of mind, and anti-imperial discoursea guide to building education partnershipsTwo alumni/faculty authors in the UW’s School of Education have published recent works. Bernadette Baker PhD’97, a faculty member in curriculum and instruction, has written William James, Sciences of Mind, and Anti-Imperial Discourse (Cambridge University Press), which has earned an American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award for Curriculum History. And, Matt Hora PhD’12, an assistant scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, has co-authored A Guide to Building Education Partnerships: Navigating Diverse Cultural Contexts to Turn Challenge into Promise (Stylus Publishing).

nation of outlaws, state of violenceMeredith Terretta MA’00, PhD’04 has written the first extensive history to consider the global and local influences that shaped nationalism within the French and British Cameroons and beyond. Called Nation of Outlaws, State of Violence: Nationalism, Grassfields Tradition, and State-Building in Cameroon (Ohio University Press), it traces the connection between local and transregional politics in the age of Africa’s decolonization and the early decades of the Cold War. Terretta is an associate professor of history at the University of Ottawa.

the german prosecution service copyDo the members of the German prosecution service — acclaimed as “the most objective prosecutors in the world” — provide an antidote to American prosecutors’ conviction mentality? Has the introduction of charge bargaining opened the door to subjectivity on their part? These are among the questions that Shawn Marie Boyne MA’02, PhD’07 explores in The German Prosecution Service: Guardians of the Law? (Springer), which takes readers behind closed doors, where prosecutors discuss case decisions and unveil the realities of their practice. Boyne is a professor of law and chair of the Global Crisis Leadership Forum at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

UnspeakableRoughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of fewer than four years during the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the heartbreaking mug shots of prisoners taken at the Tuol Sleng prison. In Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press), Michelle Caswell PhD’12 traces these photographic records through the lens of archival studies, detailing how they’ve become “agents of silence and witnessing, human rights, and injustice.” Caswell is an assistant professor of archival studies at UCLA and an affiliated faculty member with its Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Published in the Fall 2014 issue


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