Reediana Briefs

American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton, by Robert Richter ’51. Robert’s latest documentary takes as its subject the unconventional 1968 murder trial of Huey P. Newton, cofounder of the Black Panther Party. The trial coincided with one of the most destabilized times in U.S. history, related to military involvement in and social protest of the Vietnam War, riots in Newark, Harlem, Detroit, and Watts, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and issues of racial profiling and the right to a fair trial. The film includes footage of the late Fay Abrahams Stender ’53, who played a “backbone” role in the trial as second chair for civil rights attorney Charles Garry, and who became a prominent attorney in her own right. People v. Newton left its imprint, in particular, on the practice of criminal defense law and the approach to jury selection.


“Momento Mori: In Honor of the Work and Life of Professor Antonio T. de Nicolás,” by Tom Harris ’55 (Antonio T. de Nicolás: Poet of Eternal Return, Sriyogi Publications & Nalanda International, 2014). Tom’s essay is included in the newly published collection by editor Christopher Key Chapple, which surveys the groundbreaking work of Antonio de Nicolás in the fields of Indian philosophy, musicology, educational theory, and comparative literature. Chapple states in his foreword, “Reece Thomas Harris weaves a wonderful essay drawing upon Gilgamesh, John of the Cross, and Plato to suggest that much of the poetic can be learned from strangers in our midst.”


The Reign of Ivan the Terrible, by Geoff Baldwin ’62, translator (Nast, deBrutus & Shortt, 2014). Ivan IV, the first ruler to be crowned tsar of all the Russians, was also the most notorious tsar, Geoff notes. “His long, erratic reign decimated the aristocracy and gave birth to a large and powerful centralized state. Over the centuries, Russians have come to revere him for his achievement and have largely forgotten his immense cruelties.” This is the second volume of Nicholas Karamzin’s 12-volume History of the Russian State, which Geoff has translated. Karamzin [1766–1826], a writer, poet, and critic, served as historiographer on the Russian court and wrote his History over a span of 23 years. Learn more about Geoff’s project at his publishing site.


Tanglecove: 30 New Canadian Fiddle Tunes, by Dan Rubin ’68 (First Person Press, 2013). Dan’s small press published three books in 2013, for which he served as author and editor. The first, is a collection of original airs, marches, schottisches, waltzes, jigs, reels, and freilachs, which is available as a book and CD and as an instrumental album. A second book, Pouch Cove: Our Home by the Sea, is a local history compilation. Finally, A Fire on the Sea is a vivid adventure story set 100 years into the future on the north Pacific coast. In this, his first novel, believable characters confront fantastic elements, such as travel by sailing ship and communication with whales. 


Living in the Shadow of the Cross: Understanding and Resisting the Power and Privilege of Christian Hegemony, by Paul Kivel ’69 (New Society Publishers, 2013). Over the centuries, Christianity has accomplished much that is deserving of praise. Its institutions have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and advocated for the poor. Christian faith has sustained people through crisis and inspired many to work for social justice. The actual story, according to Paul, is much more complex. Over the last two millennia, ruling elites have used Christian institutions and values to control those less privileged throughout the world. Living in the Shadow of the Cross reveals the ongoing, everyday impact of Christian power and privilege on our beliefs, behaviors, and public policy, and emphasizes the potential for people to come together to resist domination and build and sustain communities of justice and peace. 

“Portland’s Jews Celebrate Century of Sephardic Heritage: From Izmir to the Pacific Northwest,” by Marty Rosenberg ’71 (Jewish Daily Forward, August 8, 2014). In this piece, available for reading at, Marty takes in his experience of Portland, including details about Reed and a quote from Prof. Laura Leibman [English 1995–]. He now resides in Overland Park, Kansas.

“Charlie,” by Sibylle Hechtel ’72 (Alpinist, summer 2014). Sibylle shared her own memories of American mountaineer and climate change scientist Charlie Porter, who died in February 2014, in a magazine feature that also can be read at The Alpinist.


Little Bit: A “Different” Cat Story, by Thomas Owen ’73 (2014). Learn more about the shape-changing alien Little Bit, who is cast adrift on Earth and challenged by all the issues related to his new feline form. Thomas says he was inspired to write a book about cats based on the many he has known, and the book also grew out of his concern for his aging cat, Buster. “Little Bit takes awhile to get the hang of cat food and bowls of milk,” says Thomas, though Buster does not have the same problem. There also are no black helicopters and military units searching for Buster, as they are for Little Bit. Purchase a copy of the book from Thomas via email or Amazon. Proceeds from book sales will provide medicatfunds for Buster.


Buildings of Vermont, by Curtis Johnson ’76, coauthor and photographer (University of Virginia Press, 2014). Curtis contributed both images and text to this volume in the Buildings of the United States Series of the Society of Architectural Historians, which showcases the remarkable range, quality, humanity, and persistence of a most appealing built landscape. Curtis and Glenn Andres, who teaches art and architecture history at Middlebury College, spent 20 years doing research for the project. They chose 643 notable examples out of the 40,000 listed in state and national Registers of Historic Places, and wrote descriptive text for each entry, accompanying the text with Curtis’ black and white photography. Examples include Federal and Greek Revival meetinghouses, early Gothic Revival churches, Victorian inns, Italianate and panel brick business rows, wood-framed general stores, robber-baron estates, and hippie houses, as well as early water-powered mills, large railroad and factory complexes with nearby workers’ housing, summer camps, roadside cabins, and ski resorts. Writes one reviewer, “The scope of the book—from pre-statehood through today, inclusive of the entire state and every extant style and type of building—makes it the first of its kind.” Curits is a professional photographer and the editor of The Historic Architecture of Addison County and The Historic Architecture of Rutland County.


To Be Near the Fire: Demonic Possession, Risk Analysis, and Jesus’ War on Satan, by Roger Busse ’78 (Wipf and Stock, 2014). How does risk analysis figure into the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth? Scholars agree that Jesus practiced exorcism, an illicit activity in the Roman world, and suggest that his reasons for doing so may have been to demonstrate compassion for the demon-possessed. As a 39-year veteran of risk analysis and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Roger believes that individuals engage in risky ventures only when not doing so would pose even greater risks. What was the greater risk for Jesus? If he failed to drive off the demons that infested his land, already suffering under foreign occupation, then the forces of darkness might win out. Roger’s findings suggest that there is a core tradition surrounding Jesus’ activity that is reliable and recoverable through risk analysis. He reassesses the gospel traditions and provides an approach that recovers the specific charismatic practices, sayings, and parables that Jesus employed in his deliberate and dangerous strategy.


I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists, by Richard Gehr ’78 (New Harvest, 2014). In his new book, Richard successfully tackles the careers of New Yorker cartoon superstars Gahan Wilson, Sam Gross, Roz Chast, Lee Lorenz, and Edward Koren. He also provides a brief history of the New Yorker cartoon and touches on the lives and work of cartoonists Charles Addams, James Thurber, and William Steig. Says one reviewer, “We are in enormous debt to Richard Gehr for tracking these artists down; for charming them, disarming them, and translating their lives and work into wise and elegant prose.” Richard has been writing about music, books, film, and television for more than two decades.


The Chemistry of Alchemy: From Dragon’s Blood to Donkey Dung, How Chemistry Was Forged, by Cathy Chaney Cobb ’81, coauthor (Prometheus Books, 2014). Cathy describes her newest book as a combination of history and chemistry, because it is a collection of reenactments of alchemical processes that can be performed safely with generally available materials, accompanied by biographies of the alchemists who performed them. “Both light and enlightening reading,” the book offers the chemist’s perspective in nontechnical language. In addition, Cathy and her coauthors recreated experiments and provide instructions for at-home alchemy.


Night of the Victorian Dead (Book One: Welcome to Romero Park), by Amber Michelle Cook ’92 (Unchangeling Press, 2014). Downton Abbey meets the undead. It’s Gothic/paranormal historical fiction, or as Amber likes to call it “a genteel period piece slowly and unwillingly realizing it’s in Night of the Living Dead.” Among the green and rolling hills of Old England, the fields lie ripe for reaping under a blighted Harvest Moon. Mr. Dorchester invites several families of his acquaintance to his estate for a visit culminating in a ball to celebrate his ward’s engagement to a most eligible neighbor. Unwitting attendees are too busy striving to hide secrets and make matches to see what’s going on around them until it’s almost too late . . .


Goodhouse: A Novel, by Peyton Marshall ’96 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014). Peyton explores questions of identity and free will—and what it means to test the limits of human endurance—in her first novel, based in part on the true story of the former Preston School of Industry—the oldest and most recognized reform school in the U.S. The story is set at the end of the 21st century in a transformed America, where sons of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers, and those who test positive become compulsory wards of the state, raised on Goodhouse campuses in order to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Reviewers praise highly what they call a haunting dystopian novel, strikingly original, and written in perfectly calibrated prose. “A smart, literate thriller set in a foreseeable future, where genetic profiling is meant to prevent crime but becomes—instead—a terrifying tool for oppression, discrimination, and violence. It’s a ripping good read,” says author Katherine Dunn ’69.


Fire the Cops! by Kristian Williams ’96 (Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2014). This collection includes articles on policing that Kristian has written over the past 10 years, following the publication of his book Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Fire the Cops! includes a new essay that looks back at his experience writing about and organizing against the police, transcripts of speeches that have not previously appeared in print, and article reprints. Individual chapters examine topics such as the relationship between violence and legitimacy and the tension between demands for accountability and the struggle for abolition. They relate current events to historical patterns and local occurrences (especially those in Portland) to national trends. Illustrating the text are photographs by Portland photojournalist Bette Lee.


The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship, by Jason McGraw ’97 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). Jason’s book presents the compelling story of post-emancipation Colombia from the liberation of the slaves in the 1850s through the country’s first general labor strikes in the 1910s. Ending slavery fostered a new sense of citizenship, one shaped both by a model of universal rights and by the particular freedom struggles of African-descended people. Colombia’s Caribbean coast was at the center of these transformations, in which women and men of color, the region’s majority population, increasingly asserted the freedom to control their working conditions, fight in civil wars, and express their religious beliefs. Jason is associate professor of history at Indiana University.


Words Like Rainfall, by Jessica Gerhardt ’11 (Genre: Pop, Indie, Rock; Released: 2014). Staying true to her post-Reed dreams of pursuing music, Jessica released her debut EP with her band Feronia. Available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Spotify, the album was produced by Patrick Doyle and features three original songs and one Talking Heads cover as a tribute to her favorite band and her beloved Reed memories of “Stop Making Sense” dance parties. Check out Feronia Music.

U.S. Hard, by Santi Leyba ’14 (Genre: Techno; Released: 2014). U.S. Hard is Santi’s debut EP ( The three-track EP unrolls an array of sharpened percussion hits atop an overdriven techno base, said to pull from his past work in post-hardcore, noise, and drone outfits. A related interview, “Stream U.S. Hard’s Self-Titled EP,” appeared at IMPOSE magazine on August 21, 2014. In the interview, Santi reported that he was returning to his hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico, to do some research for some paintings and to take time to get some serious work done. Santi and his Hausu bandmembers, Benjamin Friars-Funkhouser ’14, Carl Hedman ’13, and Alexander Maguire ’14, received acclaim in 2013 for their debut album, Total.