Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg ’43 (Times)
Herbert Hoover by William E. Leuchtenburg '43 (Times)
Before the tribulations of his presidency, Herbert Hoover was hailed as a great humanitarian. He over-saw food aid to Europe during World War I, and as Secretary of Commerce in the Twenties sent famine relief to the Soviet Union despite his hatred of communism. To blame Hoover for the Great Depression is a gross distortion of history argues Leuchtenburg, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and winner of the Bancroft and Parkman prizes. After the stock market crash in 1929, Hoover urged Congress to increase public works spending, cajoled the Federal Reserve to expand credit, and tried to bolster public confidence.
A Mercy by Toni Morrison, MA '55 (Knopf). The theme of sacrifice runs throughout Nobel laureate Morrison's latest novel, set in 1680s America. A mother offers up her young daughter, Florens, as payment for her master's debt to a farmer in New York. Three other women live at the farm on the edge of the wilderness: Lina, the Native American girl; Sorrow, the odd servant; and Rebekka, the farmer's wife. Morrison shows the moral ambiguity in their relationships. "To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing."
Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo '94 (Thomas Dunne). When twelve-year-old David Kim arrives at Newark Airport from Korea, he hasn't seen his father in five years. David speaks little English, but he is a keen observer of human foibles. He begins work at East Meets West (his father's gift shop in Peddlers Town, a mall in suburban New Jersey), makes new friends, and tries to adjust to American culture. David's observations alternate with chapters told from the perspectives of his family members. In this first novel, Woo recounts the trials of new immigrants with humor and understanding.
Color by Kenneth A. McClane '73, MFA '76 (Notre Dame). In his new essay collection, the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of Literature chronicles his parents' upbringing and their struggles against racism, their careers in medicine, their work in the civil rights movement, and how they became the first African Americans to break the color barrier in previously white organizations. He tells of his own coming of age in Harlem, and how he was the second black student to enroll at Collegiate, the oldest preparatory school in America. He ends the collection with a poignant account of his parents' struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
Castle by J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf). Iraq War veteran and loner Eric Loesch returns to his boyhood town in Upstate New York, buys 612 acres on the far edge of the county, and remodels a rundown house. But when he examines the title to the land, he learns that someone else owns a dense stand of woods in the heart of the property, and the person's name is blacked out. Loesch explores the deep forest and discovers a seemingly abandoned fortress—a fortress that holds the key to his past and its legacy of violence.