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Laurentian Reviews
Spring 2005

Alive I Cried, by Josh Webb ’90 and Rodey Webb, JS Publishing, Hilton Head, SC, 2004 (www.jspublishing.com).

Josh Webb succumbed to leukemia in January 1998. His mother, Rodey Webb, explains how this book came about: “Josh’s dying request to me was to see what I could do with his short stories, poems and journals.  Seven years after his death, my promise is fulfilled.”

The book recounts Josh’s terrifying battle with leukemia and provides a brief glimpse into the heart of his family struggling to come to terms with his death, partly by including several chapters by Josh himself; a few by his mother; and one by his sister, Julie, who was his bone marrow donor. And so this is a book of many voices: according to the Introduction, “The patient agonizes as mortality is faced; a fraternity brother mourns the loss of youth…; a fiancée grieves for a love unfulfilled; and a younger sister, struggling for recognition, reveals her conflict and turmoil.” 

Born on October 25, 1968 , in Oneonta, N.Y., Josh graduated from Sherburne-Earlville High School in 1986 and St. Lawrence in 1990 with majors in philosophy and English.  At the time of his death he was vice-president of Webb & Sons, Inc./Lok-N-Logs, Inc. where he headed the handcrafted log building division and was a member of the Board of Directors.  

Books can be ordered online at www.joshwebb.com.  The cost of $15 includes shipping and handling.

Jack Alofs ’58, Jack Plus 5: Secrets, Strategies, Experiences and Fundamentals in Coaching Winning Basketball, AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Ind., 2005.

In 20 years of coaching at Herkimer County Community College, Jack Alofs compiled a 391-155 record (an outstanding 72-percent winning percentage); one of his teams finished fourth in the national Division I Junior College Tournament, and another won the Division III national championship. He was twice named the New York State Basketball Coach of the Year, and upon his retirement he was inducted into the Greater Utica ( New York) Sports Hall of Fame.

The book has been endorsed by Jim Boeheim of SU, who says, “Jack’s book provides all coaches with some great stories and even better ideas on how to get the job done,” and P.J. Carlesimo of the NBA, who says Alofs “breaks down all the individual fundamentals and reveals a multitude of useful drills (and) covers team-building and offensive and defensive philosophy, including his legendary 1-3-1 Trap Zone.” Explanations (and diagrams) of drills are interspersed with anecdotes from his 32 years of coaching, making this an attractive volume for both the serious coach and the dedicated fan.

Charles Burrall ’76, Captured By the Russians—A True Story, PublishAmerica, 2004 (www.Charlesburrall.com).
Charley Burrall lives a relatively quiet life in Maryland with his wife and six children, teaching public high school English.  But it was not always so. A press release for this book begins, “On September 11, 1984, I was taken hostage by the Soviet Union and held captive in Siberia.  I had obtained work (as a cook) on a merchant ship skippered by one of the youngest ship captains in the U.S. On a freight-hauling mission to the Arctic, our ship was seized by the Soviet Union. Held at gunpoint and threatened with 30 years in prison, this is the story of our interrogation and interaction with high-ranking officers in the Soviet military.”

He adds, “I know the story sounds pretty ‘out there’ but that's where we were--out there!” It was his students, who he says heard parts of his adventure from time to time, who persuaded him to put it to paper.

Suffice to say the story is compelling, the kind of stuff of which movies are made. With the Cold War still going on, this was not playtime. Burrall describes his nine-day confinement (or 10; the International Date Line complicates calculations such as this), his relations with his captors, and how a letter outlining his religious faith played a part in the resolution of his and his fellow crew members’ situation. Coincidentally, his first steps on American soil after his and his companions’ release were on St. Lawrence Island, in the Bering Strait, where they faced an interrogation from the American media that Burrall says was almost as severe as that from the Russians. “A page-turner,” though a cliché of the book trade, aptly applies to this volume. --NSB

The Family Wound, by Assistant Professor of English Ngoc Quang Huynh, Starborn Books, Wales, 2005
This novel by a new member of the English department is described as “a young Vietnamese woman's desperate search for inner peace after surviving the horrors of war and the corruption and violence left in its wake.” Huynh was born in 1957 in South Vietnam . He attended Saigon University until he was thrown into a concentration camp simply, he says, for being a student. After a year of torture and extreme degradation he managed to escape, and eventually found a new life in America . He spoke no English when he arrived in the United States in 1978. His first book, the memoir South Wind Changing (Graywolf Press 1994), was named by Time magazine as a “best book.” The Family Wound, while dealing with imprisonment, escape and flight to America , is fiction, with a young woman as the protagonist. She is in love with a student teacher, but her family forbids the union, and he vanishes; she is subsequently pressured by her mother to take a job with a corrupt Vietcong official. After suffering extreme abuse she finds herself accused of murder and is forced to flee. The central portion of the book is a kind of inner journey with touches of magic realism, and marks the transition or emancipation from the "old" world of Vietnamese tradition, culture and society to the "new" world of the United States where she eventually comes to live. But the past, with all its pain and guilt, is a wound that will not heal, until at last, not without further tragedy, she finds her way to a kind of peace.  

The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government, 5 th ed., by Alan Draper et al., Wadsworth Publishing, 2005.

This widely used textbook on American politics is described as providing “a lively, comprehensive, critical perspective of the American political system by highlighting how political conflicts, institutions and processes are influenced by deep inequalities generated by the country's political economy. Building on the coverage of all of the major topics typical of an American Government course, the critical analysis in this text is based on the theme that American democracy is limited by fundamental inequalities in power and economic resources.” New material in this edition includes:

· A chapter examining economic policy, emphasizing the outcomes of government institutions and political behavior.

· A chapter that answers key questions about how well informed the American public is about politics, what it believes and what influences public opinion.

· Detailed analysis of the first Bush administration, including his economic policies, foreign policies and changes to political institutions (such as an increase in presidential powers).

· Analysis of the 2004 election, focusing on the strong continuities with previous elections and the emergence of the Republican Party as the majority party in the U.S.

 

 

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