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reed magazine logoSeptember 2010


Books by Reedies

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri associate professor, religion and humanities

A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order

(Cambridge University Press, 2010)
A History of Islam in America

Two forces conflict in this book, but they’re not what might first come to mind when you think of Islam and America. Associate professor Kambiz GhaneaBassiri [religion and humanities, 2002–present] makes a strong case that African slaves transported Islamic culture to the Americas, based on historical documents and stories of rituals recorded in the 1930s by the Works Project Administration, but he runs into fact number one, which is that very few of the Muslims who came to America were in a position to leave a mark that could be skried three centuries down the road; nor were contemporary historians particularly interested in the origin and religion of their slaves. Unless, of course, they were someone like Abdul Rahman or ‘Umar ibn Said, both purported princes who were sold into slavery and were converted—however sincerely—to Christianity.

GhaneaBassiri discusses the “liminal” effect a Muslim identity conveyed: not bestowing the status of white citizens but making followers something different from “black” in the eyes of some whites. This was an explicit goal of organizations like the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam, who, in GhaneaBassiri’s words, “actively appropriated Islam in a ‘de-negrofying’ process that was designed to ascribe a positive national identity.”

The second force at play in this history is Islam’s global scope, which poses the opposite problem: too much information. After decades of restrictive U.S. immigration laws, a profusion of Islamic organizations sprang up in the 1950s to help new immigrants from Albania to Indonesia. Where GhaneaBassiri carefully weaves the narrative between thinly documented strands in American Islam’s first three centuries, by the time of the Iranian revolution in 1979, he’s grabbing skeins of world events with both hands to reconstruct a picture of how Muslims in this country interact with each other and with a non-Muslim majority that has been at times indifferent, curious, and hostile.

This book, should it fall into the right hands, has the potential to shatter many preconceptions about Muslims in America (and around the world) by shedding light on the range of cultures and the diversity of routes by which Islam arrived in the New World.—Darrel Plant ’90

Steven Herold ’63

Where the River Ends: Art & Poetry of the Lower Skagit

 (Serif & Pixel Press, 2007)
Where the River Ends: Art & Poetry of the Lower Skagit

This book chronicles the creative life of Fishtown, an artists’ colony that sprang up in the 1930s on the lower Skagit River in Puget Sound. When Steven arrived in Fishtown after graduating from Reed, the community was alive with creative energy. Living in abandoned fisherman’s shacks, poets such as Robert Sund and Charlie Krafft worked alongside artists, painters, and sculptors. The first showing of the community’s artwork, held at the Second Storey Gallery in Seattle in 1971, was dubbed the “Asparagus Moonlight” show, a name meant to indicate the transitory and amorphous nature of this group of artists.

Steven ended up staying in Fishtown for 27 years. This elegant and grandly-illustrated book celebrates the spirit and energy of the little community before it was eventually shut down by its landlords.

Robert S. Kahn ’73

Beethoven and the Grosse Fuge: Music, Meaning, and Beethoven’s Most Difficult Work.

(Scarecrow Press, 2010)
Beethoven and the Grosse Fuge

The Grosse Fuge has an involved and complicated history. Written for a string quartet but published as an independent work, the piece raises interesting questions about whether music without words can have meaning, and invokes speculation about the composer and his frame of mind. Robert looks closely at the musical, aesthetic, philosophical, and historical problems the work raises, considering its history, structure and development, meaning, and response among critics and contemporaries. Robert also studies Beethoven’s difficulties with publishers and sponsors, his everyday life, and his character in light of recent advances in the pharmacology of depressive illness.

The book places both Beethoven and the Grosse Fuge in their historic and social contexts, arguing that Beethoven intended the Fuge as the finale of his String Quartet opus 130 and created a substitute finale for the quartet at his publisher’s urging, not because he was unhappy with the work. Robert also devotes a chapter to the phenomenon of synesthesia—a sense of motion through three-dimensional volumes of space—examining how some music can produce this effect.

Linda Gordon Howard ’70

The Sexual Harassment Handbook

(career Press, 2007)
The Sexual Harassment Handbook

This practical, plain-English guide for working men and women, on how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace in the moments when it is happening, was written because colleagues and experts in the field—who participated in Linda’s training—asked her to write a book that shared her approach to the topic. The Sexual Harassment Handbook is unique, in that it is addressed to both men and women, and is designed to specifically provoke conversation between people in a given difficult situation—more generally, among men and women—on this often divisive subject. Linda’s intention is to create healthy workplaces where people thrive and succeed. An endorsement from Reed president Colin Diver appears on the back cover.

Robin Cody

Another Way the River Has: Taut True Tales from the Northwest

(Oregon State University Press, 2010)
Another Way the River Has: Taut True Tales from the Northwest

Former dean of admission Robin Cody, author of Ricochet River, and winner of the Oregon Book Award for Voyage of a Summer Sun, stays true to the waters that he’s plied throughout his literary career. This series of essays invites comparisons to Stewart Holbrook, the legendary midcentury chronicler of the Oregon postfrontier. But where Holbrook sprawls, Cody hews to the personal and compact, an atmosphere evoked in his references to the Turtle, a handmade boat whose life cycle spans the book. Along the way, Cody shows his skills both as writer and as reporter, smoothly inserting himself among the locals at places like Hump’s Restaurant in Clatskanie to scope out the conversations about fish and nuclear submarines with the same graceful ease with which he anchors the Turtle in the aptly named Hideaway Slough on the Columbia. —Darrel Plant ’90

Julie O’Toole ’71

Botboy, My Botboy

(PSIpress, 2010)
Botboy, My Botboy

Remember the days when scientists built rocket ships to the moon in their backyards and the government looked to kid inventors to solve puzzling international intrigues? That sci-fi epoch—along with the warm, metallic touch of Issac Asimov’s robot stories—pervades this novel, which recounts the story of a widow whose “robotologist” husband leaves her a nigh-indestructible mechanical companion to keep her safe in a world of domestic antirobot fanatics led by a man named Chukkerpuppy; meanwhile, a lustful Icelandic Viking nicknamed “The Beast” commands the terrorist forces of the Middle East from his mountain cave complex. This is the first book published by PSIPress, founded by retired physics professor Richard Crandall ’69. —Darrel Plant ’90

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