January 2009


Hickory Hunt

by Lad Hanka '75 (illustrations) and Tom Springer (text) In the spirit of other artists and writers who share an affinity for the natural world, Looking for Hickories: The Forgotten Wilderness of the Rural Midwest (The University of Michigan Press, 2008) is Lad Hanka's and Tom Springer's ode to the people, natural beauty, and lore of the Midwest. Touching, humorous and beautifully illustrated, Looking for Hickories captures the essence of Michigan's and the upper Midwest's character with subjects and images particular to the region, yet universal in theme. Springer's essays often begin with delight and end in wisdom. They mingle a childlike pleasure of discovery with a grown-up sense of a time and a place, if not lost, then in danger of disappearing altogether - things to treasure and preserve for today and tomorrow. Hanka's etchings depict a fragile mosaic of quiet woods, fertile meadows, rural life and wildlife that is at once timeless and running out of time. Springer is a senior editor at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., and has written often about nature and outdoor travel for newspapers and magazines. Hanka is a Kalamazoo-based printmaker whose works hang in private and public collections on all continents, and have been exhibited in more than 100 shows worldwide. Educated as both scientist and artist, he spends much of his time in the field studying the physical characteristics and spirits of the creatures and places he depicts.
Europe's Fragile Ego

by Peter O'Brien '82 Have Europeans long been marked by a sense of insecurity? Has a frail self-esteem played a significant role in the formation of European identity? Yes, argues Peter O'Brien in European Perceptions of Islam & America from Saladin to George W. Bush: Europe's Fragile Ego Uncovered (Palgrave Macmillan Press 2008). O'Brien examines Europe's historical perceptions of Islamic civilization and the United States to explain why and how Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Americans have come to view the world so differently from one another. These perspectives, in turn, help us better understand the conflicts among the three regions, such as European opposition to the Iraq War or Islamist terrorism. O'Brien is professor of political science at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. An expert on Islam in Europe, his research focuses on Europe's relations with non-Europeans, Islamophobia and anti-Americanism. He is also author of Beyond the Swastika, a study of the impact of the Holocaust on postwar German immigration policy, and many articles on European views of non-Europeans. He was a Fulbright Professor at Bogazici University in Istanbul (1995-96) and at the Humboldt University in Berlin (2005-06).
INGER! A Modern-Day Viking Discovers America

by James N. Sites Inger Krogh was one of Norway's first post-World War II foreign exchange students, and her venture west is, in a way, a forerunner of Kalamazoo College's venture east. How fitting it was that this Norwegian pioneer chose "K" as her college in 1946, more than a decade before the College's splash into study abroad, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. "Splash" took on a literal meaning in Inger's story when the ship on which she was traveling foundered en route to the U.S. Quite an adventure; here's the back story. At the end of World War II Inger was a student at the University of Oslo and also served as an interpreter at the Allies' command center. Because of that work, in early 1946 she and six other young women were awarded scholarships to various U.S. schools. Inger chose Kalamazoo College. Her ship struck a reef and sank during a storm off the coast of Scotland. Miraculously, all on board were rescued, and the little group, after a short stay in Glasgow, resumed its westward journey on another ship. It was on this ship that Inger met her future husband, an American officer studying journalism. Their marriage later that year deferred but did not dim her educational goals. Eleven years, two sons, and three universities after landing in the U.S., Inger received her master's degree in library science. She went on to serve in several U.S. libraries and enjoyed a long career in government service in Washington, D.C. There she served as a tour guide for Scandinavian visitors to the U.S. capital, and she taught Norwegian at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute to American diplomats heading for her homeland. Her story is told in the book Inger! A Modern-Day Viking Discovers America (www.jsfbooks.com), written by her husband, James N. Sites, the officer whom she met on board the ship that (finally) got her to the U.S. The book is a sea story and love story and an interesting Washington, D.C. drama during the exciting six decades after World War II. Most of all it's about the potential of discovery in study abroad. (An article on the Inger and the book appeared in the Fall 2008 edition of ANSANYTT (ANSA News), the magazine of the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad).
Every Living Thing

by Rob R. Dunn '97. In a series of vivid portraits of determined - even obsessed - scientists, Rob Dunn demonstrates that we are not even close to knowing all life on earth. We are not close to naming it, studying it, or even knowing the basic kinds of organisms. Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys (Smithsonian Books 2008) tells the engaging story of humanity's unending quest to discover every living thing in our natural world - from the unimaginably small in the most inhospitable of places on earth to the unimaginably far away in ancient seabeds on Mars. The narrative telescopes from one scientist's attempt to find one single thing (a rare ant-emulating beetle species) to another's effort to find everything (all the insects living in a section of the Smoky Mountains). How much is left to know? If history is a lesson, says Dunn, there is more left to know than we have yet discovered. And there plenty of scientists ready to give it a go. Rob Dunn earned a B.A. in biology from Kalamazoo in 1997. He is now an assistant professor of biology at North Carolina State University.
Just Bill

by Barry Knister '63 The book might best be described as a fable for adults. Inspired by actual events, the story is set in a generic Florida retirement community, the Donegal Golf and Country Club. As is usually true of such places, the nests have long been empty, and many residents have lost their spouses. Hence, Donegal club members are especially attached to their pets. The main character is Bill, a rescue dog living with the man who saved him. He's a big dog, an oddity in a community dominated by lapdogs. This aspect of "outsiderness" is a key feature of the story. Another outsider is a young widow who is viewed by other, older women at the club as a gold digger. The third outsider is 10-year-old Ruby, the granddaughter of Bill's owner. When her father remarries, Ruby fears the loss of his love to his new wife and baby. The fear leads her to tell a lie that forces Bill's owner to give up his dog. This plot turn generates the novel's central conflict. Just Bill dramatizes how people reveal themselves through the relationships with their dogs. Some treat pets as fashion accessories, others as part of an exercise regimen, and others as loving companions with whom they are more candid an intimate than anyone else in their lives.

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