Bookshelf: Winter 2012

Witty, provocative, bracingly candid, painfully insightful, and astute have all been used to describe New Yorker Sally Platkin Koslow ’70’s fourth book, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest (Viking). In this partly hard-hitting investigation and partly hilarious, affectionate memoir, Koslow examines the complex reasons why so many “adultescents” live with their parents and helps families to navigate the sometimes-bewildering dynamics that result. A former magazine editor-in-chief who teaches at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College, Koslow and her spouse, Robert Koslow ’70, are to be congratulated: their two sons have finally moved out.

Robert Lieber ’63 realizes that he’s bucking a widely held viewpoint when he resists the notion of America’s downturn — our problems are very real and serious, after all. But in taking the long view in Power and Willpower in the American Future: Why the United States Is Not Destined to Decline (Cambridge University Press), he reassures us of our deep strengths and track record of resilience. What will make the difference, he says, are policy, leadership, and political will. Lieber is a professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

According to one estimate, nearly 21 percent of U.S. children aged nine to seventeen have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder with some recognizable impairment. How do their parents cope? How can society help? Craig Winston LeCroy PhD’83 offers resources, new perspectives, and understanding in Parenting Mentally Ill Children: Faith, Caring, Support, and Surviving the System (Praeger Publishing). He’s a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Social Work.

With the election season still fresh in our minds, Lamont Colucci ’88, MA’89, MS’98 has provided a timely, two- volume work: The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How They Shape Our Present and Future (Praeger). It examines the foreign and national-security priorities of key presidents from Washington to Obama, providing background on the sources behind their views. Colucci is an associate professor of politics and government at Ripon [Wisconsin] College, a Fulbright Scholar, and a former U.S. State Department diplomat.

Deirdre Moloney MA’89, PhD’95 is adding a broad historical analysis to the ongoing national conversation about immigration with National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882 (University of North Carolina Press). She’s the director of fellowships advising at Princeton [New Jersey] University.

Out of 5,023 submissions to the Independent Publisher Book Awards, A Greater Monster (Bedhead Books) was chosen as one of a dozen Outstanding Books of the Year for 2012. Called brain-singeing, astonishing, brilliant, insane, and explosive, Chicagoan David David Katzman MA’91’s “psychedelic fairy tale for the modern age” incorporates exotic prose, illustrations, visual text poetry, graphic design, and links to original music and animation. A one-thousand-copy print run was funded through Kickstarter. Katzman is also an actor, improviser, painter, and the author of Death by Zamboni.

Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 58 National Parks (Stone Road Press) is, quite frankly, amazing. Mike Oswald ’03 of Whitelaw, Wisconsin, wrote, designed, and published this volume of gorgeous photos, commentary, maps, hiking tables, and thoroughly researched details. Oswald spent two years exploring and photographing the parks; logged thousands of miles hiking, paddling, and pedaling; and lived almost exclusively in a tent while doing so. It became “a communion with life and land,” he says, “as I learned to immerse myself in nature.”

As leadership skills become ever more crucial to professional success, higher education has responded with a proliferation of offerings to teach them. In Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs (CreateSpace), Darin Eich PhD’07 — the creator of the Grounded Theory Model of High-Quality Leadership Programs — explores how the best programs influence students, and offers program developers forty ways in which they can make a positive impact. Eich, of Madison, also assesses and develops leadership programs and founds innovation-based start-ups.

In Sorrows Revisited: Personal Histories, France 1940–1944 (Wooster Book Company), Erwin Riedner ’64 preserves the experiences of people who lived through the German occupation of France and asks, “Do we who look back truly know how any one of us would have acted, or what we would have done to save ourselves?” A former university educator and former pediatric audiologist, Riedner lives in Wooster, Ohio.

John McEvoy ’60 of Evanston, Illinois, has brought back his protagonist, the irreverent Chicago racetrack publicist Jack Doyle, in McEvoy’s fifth horse-racing mystery novel, Photo Finish (Poisoned Pen Press). The former Daily Cardinal sports editor went on to specialize in the sport of horse racing — for real — as the former Midwest editor and senior correspondent for Daily Racing Form and has written five nonfiction books on thoroughbred horse racing as well.

Sue Bussey Chenette ’64 confronts her father’s depression and death — his silence, a “small, painful hope” within the loss, and the desire to understand the truth — in her second volume of poems, The Bones of His Being (Guernica Editions). Chenette is a classical pianist who has performed and taught in Toronto since 1972.

The latest work by Gary Blake ’66, MS’67 of Great Neck, New York, brings his book output to an even dozen. It’s A Freudian Slip Is When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother: 879 Funny, Funky, Hip, and Hilarious Puns (Skyhorse Publishing). He directs the Communication Workshop, a firm that presents writing workshops for corporate clients.

As the cost of higher education rises, online instruction becomes increasingly important to providing access to learning. That’s why (Margaret) Joan Thormann ’66 has co-authored The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing & Teaching Online Courses (Teachers College Press). She’s a professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who’s been teaching online for sixteen years.

Ira Fistell MA’67 of Los Angeles has been fascinated by the life of Samuel Clemens and his writings as Mark Twain for more than forty years. You can read his new insights into both in Ira Fistell’s Mark Twain: Three Encounters (Xlibris). The author is also a radio and TV personality, teacher, and lecturer.

Imagine a richly illustrated coffee-table book summarizing a half-century of Peace Corps work in the Philippines, and you have what Hans Groot MS’67, PhD’70 has edited: Ask not what your country can do for you: huwag nang itanong: The First 50 Years Peace Corps Philippines (Blurb). He served with that nation’s first group of volunteers and lives there now.

Robert Miller ’68 drew on his Vietnam War experience as a combat engineer to write Warrior, Wayfarer (CreateSpace): a “historical fiction account of a civilian-at-heart thrust into the futility of war … in turn satirical, lyrical, visceral, and humorous.” Miller has also held many domestic and overseas assignments during his thirty-six years with John Deere.

Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, & the Associated Press (Louisiana State University Press) is a WWII tale edited by Julia Kennedy Cochran ’69 of Bend, Oregon. Upon witnessing the Germans surrender to the Allies on May 7, 1945, Associated Press (AP) reporter Ed Kennedy chose to defy the military embargo of the news by breaking the story and was fired. In this account of his life, Cochran — Kennedy’s daughter — includes an introduction by author John Maxwell Hamilton and AP’s president and CEO, Tom Curley, who write, “too belatedly,” that “Kennedy was the embodiment of the highest aspirations of the Associated Press and American journalism.” AP hosted events honoring the book on V-E Day 2012.

In Engineering Your Future: The Professional Practice of Engineering, Third Edition (Wiley), Stuart Walesh PhD’69 argues that technical competency — the “hard side” of engineering and other technical professions — is necessary, but not enough. Rather, new generations must also develop “soft-side” competencies in communication, project management, accounting, marketing, ethics, law, and leadership to fulfill their potential. Walesh is a consultant in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Dan Woll ’70, PhD’95 met John Lyon in the early 1970s when they were both young teachers, and over the last twenty-five years, the best friends have crafted Death on Cache Lake. Lyon passed away before he could see the work in print, but Woll is sharing it in his absence: a story that has roots in the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing and its last fugitive, Leo Burt. A St. Croix [Wisconsin] Central School District superintendent until his 2007 retirement, Woll lives in River Falls, Wisconsin.

The “journey of becoming a woman during difficult times” is the theme of Janet Heller ’71, MA’73 ’s new poetry collection, Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press). She says that it contains some of her best work from the ’70s to 2011, with several poems set in Madison and Milwaukee. She’s taught literature and writing at numerous institutions and serves as president of the Michigan College English Association. Heller lives in Portage, Michigan.

Basing The Legend of See Bird: The Last Long Drive (Headline Books) on the life of a Choctaw ancestor, Karl Stewart, Jr. ’72 has set his novel in 1884 on a Texas ranch that’s preparing for what comes to be its last long cattle drive to Kansas. Along the way, the young See Bird faces dangers from rustlers to racism. Stewart, a former U.S. history teacher who lives in Ripon, Wisconsin, plans to use his body of knowledge to make this the first of a trilogy.

William Demastes PhD’86 is the new series editor of the longtime, annual book series The Best American Short Plays (Applause Theatre and Cinema Books), for which he’s edited and introduced the latest installment: the themed, 2010–11 edition centers on the many aspects of love, the “teaching emotion.” Demastes is a professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and has authored several books, including Spalding Gray’s America .

With the help of many Badger colleagues who sit on the Dane County Bar Association’s History and Memorials Committee, Paul Humphrey JD’89 and Tom Ragatz ’57, LLB’61 have co-authored a coffee-table book called Lawyers Who Shaped Dane County: A History of the Practice of Law in the Madison Area (University of Wisconsin Press). They’ve thoroughly documented the contributions of attorneys, judges, and law firms — both to the law and to the quality of life in the area — from the 1850s to the early 1980s.

Mark Ott ’89, chair of the English department at the Deerfield [Massachusetts] Academy, has co-edited Ernest Hemingway and the Geography of Memory (Kent State University Press): an essay collection about the creative process of the renowned author that will appeal to the Hemingway scholar as well as the general reader. Ott has also written A Sea of Change: Ernest Hemingway and the Gulf Stream, a Contextual Biography .

Home educators, this one’s for you! Pamela Sable Patnode ’91 of Osseo, Minnesota, has authored 5 Steps to Successful Home Schooling: How to Add Faith and Focus to Your Home Education Program (Philomena Press) to assist parents in this growing trend: she cites a recent study by the National Home Education Research Institute that estimates the current number of home-schooled U.S. children to be about one in every twenty-five, with the rate growing at 7 to 15 percent each year.

Marla Czeshinski McKenna ’93 is a Waterford, Wisconsin, graphic designer who’s now a children’s author as well: Mom’s Big Catch was inspired by an event that took place at the Brewers’ Miller Park, but she’s now customizing it for other baseball teams as well. McKenna is sharing her story with school classes, and she appeared on Chicago TV station WGN courtesy of a connection she made with its managing producer, Aline Wessel Cox ’96, through On Wisconsin ’s Class Notes section. Partial proceeds from sales go to the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, a dog-rescue effort.

Reminded of life’s preciousness by the loss of his father and his infant son’s stay in a neonatal ICU, Lance Fox DVM’95 of New London, Wisconsin, vowed to live his dream to reach the top of Mount Everest. He’s now published a “memoir + inspirational adventure” of his 2009 trek, No Place but UP! (Lulu), the cover of which shows Fox sprinkling his father’s ashes on the mountain’s summit. The Discovery Channel series Everest beyond the Limit also documented his adventure. “I believe within all of us resides our own ‘Everest,’ “ he says. “My hope is that … you will be inspired to pursue with passion your Everest.” Fox is an industrial veterinarian and technical service manager for dairy with Alpharma Animal Health.

Kelly Kizer Whitt ’95 has written her first children’s book: the colorful Solar System Forecast (Sylvan Dell) follows a friendly, green-skinned alien meteorologist who gives his outlook for each of the planets as readers imagine the wild weather they’d encounter during a visit. Whitt, of Sussex, Wisconsin, also edits and writes for Astronomy magazine,, the Sierra Club, and more.

We Are in This Dance Together: Gender, Power, and Globalization in a Mexican Garment Firm (Rutgers University Press) is Nancy Plankey-Videla MS’96, PhD’04 ’s examination of the operations, dynamics, and socio-political evolution at Moctezuma — the pseudonym for a successful producer and exporter of high-end suits from 1969 until 2002. She’s also been awarded tenure in the sociology department at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Empowering kids to take part in planning their travel experiences is Laura Schaefer ’01 ’s goal for her new series of e-books called Planet Explorers Travel Guides for Kids. Her first is Planet Explorers Walt Disney World 2012 for eight- to twelve-year-olds. Complete with fun facts, tips, and hyperlinks for deeper exploration (and even learning ), it can be read on iPods and smart phones — which, the Madison author says, “most tweens would have with them during a day at the parks anyway.” The series now comprises fifteen titles, including Chicago and New York, with more in the works for Washington, D.C., and favorite tourist sites in Wisconsin.

They say it’s just a game, but sports are about so much more — which Brian Carriveau ’02 concludes after observing adult amateur baseball in Wisconsin’s Home Talent League as a means to examine community dynamics in It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America (Winners Success Network). “The connection between town and team is remarkable,” he says: it’s what helps people to both play the game and navigate life’s weightier issues. Carriveau, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is the editor of Pro Football Draft Preview and writes for

Aubre Andrus ’06 says that her ten-year-old self would have “freaked out” if she’d known that she would someday be an American Girl author, but here she is: her tween craft and activity books Math + Fashion = Fun and I ♥ Art came out in May, and Slumber Wonders and Bored No More! Quiz Book rolled off the presses in September. Look for a fifth book in 2013. A former American Girl editor, Andrus is now a Madison-based freelance writer.

The book that Matthew Knoester PhD’10 has edited is hardly lacking in Badger input. The foreword for International Struggles for Critical Democratic Education (Peter Lang Publishing) came from UW Professor Michael Apple, and the work includes chapters by UW PhD students Christopher Crowley and Min Yu, as well as Júlio Diniz-Pereira PhD’05; (Pauline) Wangari Gichiru MIPA’09, PhD’12;Mi Ok Kang PhD’11; and Assaf Meshulam PhD’11. It illustrates how globalization creates inequalities in educational opportunities and evaluates efforts to democratize them. Knoester is an assistant professor of education at the University of Evansville [Indiana].

Published in the Winter 2012 issue


  • suzanne e. burpee December 3, 2012

    I would like info on Erwin riedner ’64 and his book Sorrows Revisited: Personal Histories,France 1940-1944. I expected to read something about this under Bookshelf: Winter 2012. It is a truly wonderful book; would like author’s address with hopes of an autograph. Thank you

  • robert b. davies March 6, 2013

    Did On Wjsconsin ever review my 2011 book, BALDWIN OF THE TIMES, HANSON W. BALDWIN,A MILITARY JOURNALIST’S LIFE,1903 -1991? The publisher was the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD.

    I received my PH.D from UW- Madison (History) in 1967.

    Thank you, Robet B. Davies, professor emeritus

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