Duke University Alumni Magazine

We asked ourselves, the staff of Duke Magazine, to share summer readings and recommendations.

Anticipating a summer of hiking, Editor Robert Bliwise read (a bit anxiously) Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a personal account of the deadliest season in the history of climbing Mt. Everest, and Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, which documents the evocative landscape, physical challenges, and offbeat characters encountered during an attempt on the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. He also completed the latest literary gift by Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews. Cahill's book reveals how the ancient Jews changed Western notions of the promise of the future and the place of the individual. In a shift of ethnic orientation, he reveled in the memoir by the wonderfully named Irish Times columnist Nuala O'Faolain. Called Are You Somebody (with a curiously missing question mark), it documents the path to self-discovery of a woman facing very Irish--and very human--travails.

Associate Editor Sam Hull says he recently completed Arkansas, a collection of three novellas by David Leavitt. "It includes 'The Term Paper Artist,' the story that was accepted by Esquire and then rejected because of pressure from advertisers." He is now reading two books, Lives of the Monster Dogs, a novel by Kirsten Bakis, and The Camel's Nose, the memoirs of Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, James B. Duke zoology professor emeritus. "The monster dogs are actual dogs developed by a mad scientist: They stand on their hind legs, have prosthetic arms, and speak via mechanical voice boxes. In their period Prussian wardrobes, they are a sensation in New York City, where they have settled after overthrowing their masters and escaping with lots of gold and gems," he says.

Features Editor Bridget Booher has been traveling extensively, at least through the written word. She began with Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres. Set in Cephalonia, Greece, during World War II, the novel is "a tragic and magical exploration of how lives are changed by world events," says Booher. From the Ionian islands, she journeyed to the Amazon Rain Forest with ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, author of Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice. With his gentle, self-effacing manner, Plotkin endears himself to local tribes (and the reader), gradually learning their ages-old insights into nature's healing cornucopia. A little closer to home, she also read Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. (Booher had her first child earlier this summer.)

"And the world you enter today is far from perfect, but you're ready because you've been blessed here. I don't know if you even know it, but you have been blessed--great professors have given you a shot at the American dream, have given you a great education, and you've been blessed to forge friendships that will last a lifetime."
-- Former U.S. President George Bush, in his commencement address in May in Wallace Wade Stadium

"Whether Duke is number three or number seven matters very little, and will surely go up and down over time. The important thing is to continue to do what we do best, and to do it as well as we can. Perhaps this is what is truly meant by the phrase 'let Duke be Duke.' ''
-- President Nannerl O. Keohane, in her May baccalaureate address to the Class of 1998 in Duke Chapel

"My mother raised me to the words, La vida da muchas vueltas: Life takes many unexpected turns. You never know what may happen, my mother would say. One day you lose everything: your family, your friends, your home, your money--everything--but you will never lose your education. It is the one thing that cannot be taken from you."
-- -Christina Cardoze '98, a native of Panama and survivor of the Noriega regime, in her student commencement address in May

We asked members of The Chronicle staff:
What will be the pressing campus issues for the upcoming school year?

Many editors predict that the changing residential policy will continue to be a major area of debate. "With so many students living on campus, and with the social scene gradually shifting off-campus, living space is becoming more important to people," says associate university editor and Trinity sophomore Mary Carmichael.

University editor and Trinity junior Rich Rubin targets curriculum review, along with residential life. Both issues "allow [us] to think about a university's role in shaping the lives of its students and to ask some fundamental questions about Duke: What should a Duke graduate know? How can a residential system affect students' learning and social experiences? What are the benefits and drawbacks of creating unique, innovative residential and academic structures?"

On the athletics front, sports editor and Trinity senior Joel Israel sees added pressure on the football team now that many of the players have gained more experience. "Results will be measured by wins more than anything else," he says. "[Athletics director] Joe Alleva is determined to make this program successful, and this year will help him decide if the current coaching staff can do the job."

Overall, though, the campus journalists' main emphasis remains the changing face of Duke in general, whether it's the alcohol policy, the residential plan, or the bench-burning controversy. "Many of us came to Duke expecting it to be just like 'Old Duke,' and I don't think we're ready to give that up quite yet," Carmichael says.

--compiled by Jaime Levy '01

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