. . . Ask What You Can Do For Your Country: The Memory and Legacy of John F. Kennedy, Dan B. Fleming Jr. (Vandamere Press). More than100 people share their memories of Kennedy, some focusing on that November 1963 day when he was shot, others on his significance in their lives. Father Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, Notre Dame’s president emeritus, honors the legacy of a president who “charge[d] up the young people of our nation to get out there and do something.” Tom Scanlon ‘60, who did something by joining the Peace Corps, writes about the group’s “sense of idealism and participation that represented the best of the United States.” And Tom Sherman ‘64, who heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination while a student at Notre Dame, writes about how he discovered during his travels the positive impact Kennedy had had on other parts of the world.
The Men of March: A Season Inside the Lives of College Basketball Coaches, Brian Curtis (Taylor Trade). The stories of four coaches—Mike Brey of Notre Dame, Steve Lavin of UCLA, Bill Self of Illinois and Steve Alford of Iowa —during the 2001-02 season take readers on a whirlwind tour of a job that requires the same stamina and drive needed by a team heading into its third overtime. Game highlights are sprinkled throughout, but the real story of these men is how their highly paid jobs require juggling family life with their professional roles as coaches, teachers and marketers. Thanks to the access the coaches gave Curtis, who covered sports for Fox Sports Net, this view of the college basketball industry moves beyond the locker room to encompass family dining rooms, the offices of athletic directors, the homes of recruits and the hallways of the NCAA tournament.
Red Poppies, Alai, translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (Houghton-Mifflin). Written in Chinese by Tibetan author Alai, Red Poppies is now reaching an English-speaking audience, thanks to a translation by Notre Dame professors Goldblatt and Lin. Originally published in 1998 in China, the novel tells the epic story of a Tibetan family prior to the coming of Chinese communism in 1950. Narrated by a chieftain’s son, whose family can’t decide if he’s an idiot or a genius, the picaresque tale takes the reader on a wild ride through tribal warfare, comical coming-of-age experiences, the politics of opium poppies and the final days of the Tibetan kingdom. The novel was a bestseller in China. In 2002, The Los Angeles Times Book Review named the English translation one of the 100 best books of the year.
Heart of Oak: A Sailor’s Life in Nelson’s Navy, James P. McGuane ’64 (Norton). McGuane, a fan of Patrick O’Brian’s high seas adventure novels, turned that interest into this documentary/photo essay on sailing life in the Napoleonic era. Sharp, textured photographs of items recovered from shipwrecks and of Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory offer a “you are there” view of life on a British Navy ship 200 years ago. The author’s captions, which mix facts with fascinating narrative, breathe historical life into the relics. Next to a photo of a hot tar ladle, for instance, he writes: “Sailors have an expression for a formidable task for which they are ill prepared: ’We’ve got the devil to pay and no pitch hot.’ Filling a seam with oakum and tar was called ‘paying’ the seam. The ‘devil’ was the last, outboard plank on the deck; it was difficult to get at and required a lot of filler. Similarly, when a sailor went overboard he was ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea.’”
Stories of Beginning Teachers: First-Year Challenges and Beyond, edited by Alysia D. Roehrig ’00M.A., Michael Pressley and Denise A. Talotta ’90, ’00M.A. (Notre Dame Press). From “students freeing animals in the room, causing disruption” to “being sexually harassed by another faculty member,” life for beginning teachers can be a zoo. This field guide begins with a study of potential problems and issues faced by teachers, offering a heads-up on challenges ranging from rowdy students to out-of-date textbooks. The second half of the book brings those challenges to painful life with first-person stories from participants in Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. “You couldn’t pay me to go back and relive that first year,” writes one survivor, who says she still appreciates the year’s hard lessons. Designed for use as a training text for novice teachers, this readable book also may inspire experienced educators.