Amherst Magazine

Amherst Authors

The emperor's shield
The Breakage
What They Are Reading
England's Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation,
      1399-1422 By PAUL STROHM '60.
Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men edited by DEWITT HENRY '63 and      James Alan McPerson.
Amherst College Books

The emperor's shield

Embracing Defeat. Japan in the Wake of World War II.
By JOHN W. DOWER '59
New York: W.W. Norton & Company/The New Press, 1999. 676 pp, $29.95. cloth.

Embracing Defeat, John Dower's magisterial chronicle of the U.S. Occupation, the summa of his four important studies of twentieth-century Japan, is simultaneously a probing analysis of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the making of the postwar world. Puncturing myths across the national divide and the
political spectrum, the book describes the ironies and contradictions that
ran through the Occupation from the acme of power in the persons of the Supreme Commander, Douglas MacArthur, and his implausible partner, Emperor Hirohito, to a society rebounding creatively from a devastating war. Its sweep is ambitious. Embracing Defeat melds a political narrative of interstate relations and institutional change with an exploration of Japanese culture and society. From the pan pan girls who served G.I. appetites for the sexual and the exotic, to committed democratic critics, militant labor activists, Marxist intellectuals, and ideologists of emperor-centered nationalism, hopeful and sordid, radical and conservative, forward- and backward-looking strands of Occupation society leap forth from these pages.

The Occupation emerges as the boldest, yet perhaps the most Quixotic, attempt at social engineering ever attempted to refashion another society as a democratic nation. "Initially," Dower tells us with characteristic incisiveness, "the Americans
imposed a root-and-branch agenda of 'demilitarization and democratization' that was in every sense a remarkable display of arrogant idealismboth self-righteous and genuinely visionary." Probing the Occupation from both Japanese and American perspectives, he shows not only American contributions to an enduring democratic political transformation, but also the ways in which Japanese shaped many of the outcomes, at times reinforcing, at others subtly subverting, the plans of their American military rulers.

Beyond idealism and arrogance, the Occupation also rested on strategic interest, a combination that produced an ambiguous legacy, at once grand in its democratic aspirations and flawed by its own internal contradictions and policy reversals. The problems and conundrums of the Occupation continue to shape Japan, the U.S.-Japan relationship, and the political economy and strategic configurations of the Pacific half a century later. Consider the following:

  MacArthur, that democratic Caesar, personally assured not only the preservation of the monarchy, but also the continued ascendance of Hirohito, who bore ultimate
responsibility for launching Japan's 15-year war with Asia, and subsequently with the United States and its allies, on through the defeat that ended beneath the rain of atomic bombs. While U.S. policymakers viewed Hirohito as indispensable to preserving stability and easing the task of occupying forces, Embracing Defeat reveals the existence of broad popular, and even official, sentiment in favor of abolishing the imperial system and
particularly of deposing Hirohito.
  In an act of extraordinary hubris, Japan's democratic constitution was drafted secretly in a one-week "Constitutional Convention" by the Occupation's Government Section with no input from, or even consultation with, Japanese authorities. Its basis was three principles advanced orally by MacArthur: the Emperor is the head of the State; war as a sovereign right of the nation is abolished; and the feudal system of
Japan will cease. While excluded from drafting the initial English- language document, in creating the Japanese text that became the Constitution, Japanese officials
undermined key democratic provisions of the document. In place of a polity that derived its ultimate strength and legitimacy from the people (jinmin), they strengthened the authority of the emperor and the state (kokumin).
  In shielding Hirohito from prosecution, the U.S. both reified the myth that the Emperor bore no responsibility for Japan's aggression and its contradictory Siamese twin that the Emperor was the peacemaker who acted decisively and selflessly to end the war and save the nation. The result was to add U.S. imprimatur to the imperial myths espoused by the court and to make a mockery of any claims to even-handedness in the War Crimes Tribunals by placing the exclusive onus for war crimes on Hirohito's subordinates while shielding the Emperor.
   Having created the world's only unequivocal peace constitution, the U.S. reversed course with the victory of the Chinese revolution and the outbreak of war in Korea. It then rearmed and reindustrialized its recent foe as a subordinate Cold War partner. Nevertheless, the Japanese people, drawing on their own suffering during the
Pacific War, and particularly the American bombing that left the nation in ruins in the final months of war, by and large embraced the pacifist principles enshrined in the Constitution.

At the center of Japan's contradictory transformation is the fact that never before "had a genuinely democratic revolution been associated with military dictatorship, to say nothing of neocolonial military dictatorship . . . ." Indeed, Embracing Defeat documents the surprisingly democratic and progressive character of the U.S.-drafted Constitution and numerous Occupation policies, from land reform to zaibatsu (oligopolies) dissolution to the liberation of women, even as it exposes the irony and the limits of the gift of democracy from on high. In fact, none of MacArthur's three constitutional provisions explicitly stipulated democratic principles, yet democracy (in the form of constitutional monarchy) emerged at the heart of the Constitution. The Japanese administration subsequently promoted the links between democracy and pacifism as the keys to Japan's future.

Dower's nuanced appreciation of the achievements of the Occupation, in creating lasting bases for a democratic and peaceful as well as a capitalist Japan, and of the Japanese people in seizing the opportunities presented by the Occupation to create a new nation, goes hand in hand with a withering critique of the chauvinism and misunderstandings of elites on both sides. Of the bold action ordering the secret drafting of the Japanese Constitution, he concludes, "The line
between Supreme Commander and Supreme Being was always a fine one in MacArthur's mind. In these momentous days of early February he came close to obliterating the distinction entirely." Similarly, he lays bare the self-serving actions of the Emperor, court officials, and much of the military and business elite: in disguising the Emperor's responsibility for the actions of empire and war committed in his name, in attempting to sabotage the democratic provisions of the Constitution, and in plundering the national treasury for private profit in the immediate aftermath of the surrender. The Japan that emerged politically and socially transformed from the ashes of defeat was not simply an American creation. Rather, it was a synthesis that emerged through the complementary roles played by Japanese people and elites, and that built significantly on prewar economic and institutional foundations.

In April 1951 Truman summarily fired MacArthur for insubordination in the Korean War. Back in the States, the general left a final imprint on Japanese politics. Testifying before a joint Senate committee, he praised the admirable qualities of the Japanese people for the "great social revolution" they had undertaken. In attempting to explain why the Japanese, more than the Germans, could be counted on to defend the newly won freedoms granted by the Occupation, he reflected:

"If the Anglo-Saxon was say 45 years of age in his development in the sciences, the arts, divinity, culture, the Germans were quite as mature. The Japanese, however . . . measured by the standards of modern civilization, they would be like a boy of twelve as compared with our development of 45 years.

"Like any tuitionary period, they were susceptible to following new models, new ideas. You can implant basic concepts there. They were still close enough to origin to be elastic and acceptable to new concepts."

In his classic study War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, Dower presented a cartoon image that brilliantly anticipated the sea change about to take place in American perceptions of Japan and the U.S.-Japan relationship. The cover of Leatherneck's September 1945 issue showed a battered and vexed but loveable monkey cradled in the arms of a large smiling GI pleased with his new pet. It was precisely that childlike image of the Japanese people that MacArthur cherished through the six years of U.S. occupation, a period in which he maintained a splendid isolation from Japanese society in ways that invite comparison with the cloistered lives of Japanese emperors. MacArthur's perspective drew on American wartime clichés of the simple, even childlike character of the Japanese people incapable of independent thought, even as it reversed the wartime vision of a people capable of fiendish cruelty.

One of the most important subtexts of Embracing Defeat is the alternative view it offers of postwar Japanese society and the Japanese people. While recognizing its fashions and foibles, and, still more, the continued strengths of the reactionary forces that earlier led Japan to embark on the savage conquest of Asia, the Japanese people emerge in these pages as sophisticated in dealing with the power and arrogance of their Occupation masters. More, they display the potential to realize the democratic and pacifist future envisaged in the most hopeful versions of the American blueprint for Japan's future.

Embracing Defeat is one of those rare books that will be read and debated on both sides of the Pacific.

--Mark Selden '59
Mark Selden's recent books include War in the Classroom: Citizenship and Memory in Japan, Germany, and the United States and Living With the Bomb: American and Japanese Cultural Conflicts in the Nuclear Age.
A sociologist, he teaches at the State University of New York at Binghamton and at Cornell University.

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The Breakage

By GLYN MAXWELL
London: Faber and Faber, 1998.
80 pp. $22.

With The Breakage Amherst's Visiting Writer Glyn Maxwell proves himself to be an heir to the poets--A. E. Housman, Edward Thomas, the Frost of A Boy's Will-- he admires. It's a thrill to hear Maxwell grow into his inheritances since, in doing so, he is hearing notes few poets before him have heard, notes muffled by the noise of Modernist machinery. Maxwell's household gods all wrote in the short twentieth-century dawn, before the War made pastoral impossible. Thomas died on a French battlefield; Housman retreated into his Greek; Frost returned to the cragged and complaining voices he'd heard north of Boston, abandoning England forever. The poets who made the Modern--Pound, Eliot, Williams--couldn't find the brittleness inside Housman's lilac delicacy; Pound, you might argue, discovered Frost to free himself of any further, more sustained obligation.

Maxwell's poems explore the pastoral substrate beneath the Modern, but do so only through the Modern. Their strength isn't their nostalgia, but rather their refusal to indulge nostalgia entirely, their need to reach the lost and the distant with the full energy of contemporary talk. In "Letters to Edward Thomas," the long poem at the center of The Breakage, Maxwell--on a visit to Thomas's cottageleaves the poet a series of notes, as it were, on the kitchen table. It's an original and arresting idea, and as the letters pile up, unclaimed, unanswered, Maxwell's chatty sadness turns weirdly and winningly petty:

  To punish you I threw the note away
I wrote you in the kitchen. Now my thanks
Are scribbled among strangers as we sway
Through Hampshire towards town, and the sun blinks
Behind the poplars.
"Edward Thomas," Maxwell continues, "great/Unknowable, omniscient, your cottage/Waits for you." One after another strategy for talking Thomas into presence occurs and is subsequently dismissed, each one as doomed and beautiful as the last; until mid-way through the poem Maxwell thinks of Thomas's famous friendship with Frost:
  Poem to Mr. Thomas and Mr. Frost,
Created by a dandelion you passed
As you in talk about a stanza crossed
Half Herefordshire, till you sat at last
in silence.

The ethereal distraction of Frost and Thomas, lost in discussion of a single stanza, is the ethereal distraction of England on the near border of its worst war yet; later, leaving England for his home in Amherst, Maxwell decides that after all this time "England is the same."
  . . . cheering to order, set in its
new ways
It thinks are immemorial.

To see the "immemorial" (youth, the rural spring, the blissful distraction of "talk about a stanza," poetry) as merely "new" and therefore subject to the indignities of time, is poetry's old, hard task. A poem that refuses to knit such sadness into its confidence is spoiled before it hits the shelves; Maxwell's poem for Thomas is all fresh, lasting disappointment. Because we can only picture time in spatial terms (the past is "behind us"; the future is "ahead of us") Maxwell's recollective poems are filled with stunning and vibrant places: schoolrooms, country churches, childhood territory. "The Room" conjures (in gorgeous falling, Hardy-like rhythms) an early bedroom:
  The room was spare and either bed or both
were needed and the top of the draped table
had spectacles, an earring and old water.
He found a floating moth to mention.

Chiefly it is the accidents of the distant pastthe old water, the drowned moththat obsess Maxwell: in another, clumsier poet's hands the drowned moth would be Ophelia. Later in the poem we discover that the room's "immaculateness" had been arranged by "the help/From Melbourne"
  . . . her credentials fine, her manner
rude and steady as she read bestsellers
and forced the window up to smoke from.

Maxwell's "room" is an elegy for the help from Melbourne's "room," for work that couldn't last; it suggests that the immaculate, for all its purity and perfection, must be made, and must bear the scars of its own making. No room is wholly immaculate that houses a bestseller-reading, chain-smoking Melbourne housekeeper. "The Room" manages to be a poem about the immaculateness of England (compared to the soot of the colonies) and the immaculateness of the Christian soul (compared to the "rude and steady" "experienced" housekeeper) and, most of all, the immaculateness of childhood--all while maintaining its premise of mere description. Few "rooms" so seemingly trim and orderly are so well-appointed.

I don't like every line of Maxwell. To my ears his syntax has a tendency to hand the keys over too willingly to meter, as in "England Germany":

  The boys were risen right out of their seats
By the wind the whistle cued, they pushed along
In the damp and heavy-coated crowd away
From all of it, away from this one song
The man behind them knew.
The awkward first line takes meter as its only master, dressing itself with expletives like "right" and the strange, needlessly passive "were risen"; and the entire passage unfolds with metronomic regularity. Maxwell's exaggerated metricality works best for light verse: his masterful "Deep Sorriness Atonement Song" (a ritual offering for missing a BBC interview) is funny in the iron-strung way Auden, at his best, is funny. But unless a poem is making imaginative use of its own written-ness, as occasional poems inevitably must, audibly regular meter has no place in contemporary writing. Strike that: there was never a poem that moved anyone, least of all itself, by marching un-selfconsciously to regular pentameter.

Such examples are relatively rare, though, especially compared to the slack, schoolmarmy exercises of many American "formalists." And Maxwell's forms serve a real purpose: he is conjuring, with full-throated demotic confidence, the blossoming world on the other side of ours, even while lamenting the doom shadowing the bloom. In "My Grandfather at the Pool" Maxwell describes a photograph of his grandfather and four friends about to take a dive:

  Merseysiders, grinning and wire-thin,
Still balanced, not too late not to go in,
Or feint to but then teeter on a whim.
The only one who turned away is him,
About to live the trenches and survive,
Alone, as luck would have it, of the five.

The mystery of "about-ness" can only be contemplated recollectively: each boy could as easily not have jumped as not have died: all but Maxwell's grandfather both jumped and died. To admit that "luck" plays the starring role in such a drama is difficult for a poet, like Maxwell, who needs desperately to traffic in sense and meaning. It doesn't make any sense, it doesn't mean anything, that the same four boys who dive soon die. Here, as throughout Maxwell's beautiful book, accident and fate wear matching outfits.
--Dan Chiasson '93
Dan Chiasson is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University.

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What they are reading

 

Recently we received a note from Lauren Fusfeld '97 of Brookline, Mass., who suggested that we include in Amherst "a list of books that Amherst professors teach in class and would recommend to Amherst alumni." She added, "I am always looking for interesting reading material."

We've made a start, Lauren, by identifying some of Amherst's perennially most popular courses and posing your question to the faculty members who teach them.

What follows is a suggested reading--and website--list from Amherst's John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer, Biology Prof. Richard A. Goldsby, who teaches Cancer and AIDS (or Bio 8). Next time, we'll include a list from another Amherst professor. Read--and click--on!

What they are reading in Cancer and AIDS (Bio 8):
The Plague by Albert Camus (Vintage Books). A gripping account of a pestilence that suddenly emerges and grips a society in anxiety, suffering and death. Though written in 1947, it seems inspired by the AIDS epidemic, an event that occurred more than 30 years after its publication.

Genes and the Biology of Cancer by Harold Varmus '61 and Robert Weinberg (Scientific American Library). This book provides a panoramic view of the many ways in which knowledge of cancer has deepened. The reader will emerge with the realization that the keys to cancer lie in understanding how a derangement in the genes of just one renegade cell can produce a life-threatening tumor.

How We Die by Sherwin Nuland (Vintage Books). This one would have been a favorite of Emily Dickinson. It is an unblinking and fascinating account of the ways our bodies are transformed from life to death. From Nuland we learn that most of us will succumb to heart attack, cancer, or "old age."

Special issues of the Scientific American have provided collections of articles on cancer and AIDS. Specifically, the Scientific American for September 1996 includes articles on basic cancer biology, new approaches to therapy, a survey of several types of cancer and news on newer ways of diagnosing cancer. The July 1998 Scientific American has a collection of articles that provide an update on HIV therapy, prospects for an AIDS vaccine and the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS.

Cancer and AIDS are broad and rapidly changing fields. One of the best ways to monitor new developments and inform oneself on current thinking about these diseases is to visit up-to-date, well-maintained websites. Two of the best are the University of Pennsylvania's Oncolink, http://oncolink.upenn.edu/ for cancer and the Journal of the American Medical Association's HIV/AIDS Information Center, http://www.ama-assn.org/special/hiv/ for AIDS.

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England's Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399-1422.

By PAUL STROHM '60.
New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998. 288 pp. $35.

Anyone who has seen or even heard about Barry Levinson's film Wag the Dog will have a way in to Paul Strohm's latest book. Strohm, the J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Languages and Literature at Oxford University, here reveals the extent to which certain documents and events were manipulated and even created by a public relations machine bent on distracting a country from troubling developments at the highest political level.

Sound strangely familiar? Yet Strohm's p.r. people are located, not in D.C., but within the royal house of 15th-century England. In 1399 Richard II, the last of the line of Plantagenet kings who had ruled England uninterruptedly for more than two centuries, was forcibly deposed and probably murdered by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke of the house of Lancaster, who then became Henry IV. As Strohm demonstrates, the anxieties that attended Henry's usurpation ran deep, so much so that the Lancastrians dedicated themselves early on to "a program of official forgetfulness," of obfuscations and inventions by which they attempted to cover up the questionable means by which they had first emptied and then filled the English throne. Strohm is interested less in "what happened" than in what the Lancastrians and their supporters claimed had happened (as well as what was happening and what would happen in the future). In the broadest sense, then, his book is part of a larger and very fruitful current in the study of medieval historiography, one that relies upon the techniques of literary analysis and the insights of critical theory to interrogate the forces shaping historical representation past and present.

Rather than searching for kernels of hard fact in notoriously creative medieval histories, this type of study takes the often fictitious nature of many medieval documents as representative of a kind of truth perhaps more true than any other we might have access to in our inquiries about the past. As Strohm puts it, his analytical quest is "not only for what a text intends to say about itself but for those moments of inadvertency or lessened vigilance when it means more than it says."

Strohm organizes each of his eight chapters around a cluster of symbolically significant texts and events. His examination of political prophecy and carefully stage-managed accusations of heresy, conspiracy, and counterfeiting in the first five chapters establishes the main thrust of the argument: Lancastrian texts and images worked hard to fill in the gaps that Henry's usurpation had created in England's once seamless narrative of kingship, but their strategies of elision and the inescapable fact of what was being elided (murder and a potentially illegitimate ruler) are everywhere visible to the critical eye. Strohm's most intriguing example showing the insurmountable nature of the propagandistic task the new regime set itself is perhaps Chapter 4, in which he examines the way in which the king's body (a fundamental locus of power in medieval political thought), even after death, refused to disappear as a political player from the Lancastrian stage. Henry IV attempted, first, to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that his cousin Richard II was dead by parading his uncovered body through the streets of London; he then tried to deny the king's corpse a secure place in the public memory by interring him in an obscure abbey. But the new king failed on both counts: Richard II look-alikes, and continual rumors that Richard was alive and well and staging his imminent return were to plague the first Lancastrian Henry's reign to its end. Despite his son Henry V's ceremonial re-interment of Richard II in Westminster, what Strohm refers to as "Richard recurrences" kept recurring, and the repressed figure of the deposed king was to keep returning, haunting Lancastrian kingship until its end. Like the carefully manipulated, recursively-read prophecies that proclaimed him "never entitled to [have been] king in the first place," Richard II's ineradicable body here becomes part of Strohm's larger argument about the rhetoric of power and those who wield it: "extreme forms of enforced historical forgetfulness," he thoughtfully concludes the chapter, "do invite their own retribution."

Chapter 5's discussion of counterfeiting and the more ideological than financial threat posed by the unauthorized stamping of the king's image upon the coin of the realm seems in many ways to conclude the first part of the bookso satisfactorily, in fact, that the last three chapters read less as an essential part of the argument than as a series of riffs upon it. Chapter 6, an examination of tales told about Joanne of Navarre, second wife to Henry IV, tries to peer through the textual and social obstacles that obscure medieval women, even prominent ones, from our view. Here Strohm makes the unsurprising (and, in the context of this otherwise fascinating book, surprisingly unoriginal) argument that to their male contemporaries medieval women, especially prominent ones, were deeply troubling figures. Nevertheless, Strohm does demonstrate that Joanne's supposed witchcraft (like heresy, conspirators, and counterfeiters) was certainly the
projection of more than the usual misogyny, fitting it convincingly into the pattern of Lancastrian political fabrication he has uncovered. Chapter 7 moves from the domestic sphere to the court circle, situating the 15th-century poets Hoccleve and Lydgate as willing contributors to the Lancastrian program of self-promotion. While not a radically new view of these writers, in the new context of Strohm's argument their "strategic unexceptionality," apparently designed to ward off princely displeasure, takes on a new relevance.

Strohm is a very readable and honest scholar who places his methodological and ideological cards on the table. He makes clear his aim to reveal rather than gloss over the "usurpation, tyranny, and terror" that he calls a "roil[ing] . . . ocean
of unacknowledged aberration" lying beneath the "deceptively placid surface of Lancastrian letters." And he does not hesitate to remind us that texts and other symbolic acts can have very drastic effects upon real human lives. As he puts it most trenchantly in the chapter on so-called heresy, the result of some texts is that "ropes bite flesh, barrels sear and fires burn . . . . A world of material consequences reminds us that the processes of victimization occur outside, as well as inside, textual bounds . . . ."

While he makes his critique of Lancastrian symbolic practices and the lies and counter-lies to which they gave rise evident throughout the book, Strohm nevertheless also passionately and persuasively stakes a claim for their intrinsic value as historical events. He argues for the historicity of beliefs, impressions, and imaginingsthat is, for the truth of our ways of making meaning even when the meaning that we make is a misinterpretation or an outright lie. Strohm's methodological statements to this effect, relying on the tools of psychoanalytic criticism, may be the most interesting parts of this study for those not primarily seeking a new take on the deposition, death, and political afterlife of Richard II. But even those with little or no background in the troubled history of
late-medieval England will find much to be fascinated by in this portrait
of an anxious regime determined to legitimize itself at any cost.

--Lisa H. Cooper '93
The reviewer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

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Fathering Daughters: Reflections by Men

Edited by DEWITT HENRY '63
and James Alan McPherson.
Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.
272 pp., $24.

Here's an anthology born of friendship, fatherhood, and love­of daughters and good writing.

DeWitt Henry '63, who teaches at Emerson College in Boston, and James Alan McPherson, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and one of the first MacArthur Foundation "genius" awards, have been friends since they met in Cambridge in the 1970s. In the 1980s they co-edited a special issue of Ploughshares, the literary magazine founded by Henry, entitled "Confronting Racial Differences." At the end of the 1990s, with their own daughters reaching adulthood, they invited 18 other talented writers to join them in "expressing the perplexities of parenting daughters during these decades of questioning, polarization, and social change."

Their goal was to get beyond one stereotype of fathers--patriarchal, absent, or distant--without sliding into another one--the so-called "new father" who is always present and loving. They asked for "honest explorations" from men about "their love for and their responsibilities to their daughters, about their perspectives on culture, about the future, and about the impact of feminist criticisms on their hearts and minds."

As any father knows who has ever tried writing about his daughter, as anybody knows who has observed a dad making the toast at his daughter's wedding, lapses into sentimentality are hard to avoid in this genre. But for the most part this collection avoids the sentimental, offering a nuanced portrait of men's engagement (or attempts to engage) with their children across the life cycle.

The essays are grouped into sections according to life stage: Arrivals, Early Childhood, Girlhood and Adolescence, Separations, and Wings. But they are as much about the life stages of fathers as of daughters, and it is not all easy going. Gary Soto struggles with depression from his daughter's earliest years through adolescence ("Knowing that I was ill, I was obsessed with seeing that my daughter was raised.") James Alan McPherson gives new meaning to the phrase "Disneyland Dad." He takes his daughter to the Magic Kingdom year after year, not because he can't think of anything else to do with her, but because it offers refuge from his bitter divorce ("The best thing about Disneyland is that the real world is left at the door"). In trying to teach his teenage daughter to drive, Gerald Early encounters, in one of the book's most poignant essays, the struggle of his biracial daughter to get beyond the polarized world of black and white. ("I want to be myself. That's why I wanted to learn to drive. To help me be myself.")

Along the way there are some startlingly brilliant passages. Here is Phillip Lopate, from the opening essay, "Delivering Lily," on trying to become a first-time father at age 50, when his wife was 38. "We knew many other couples around our age who were trying, often futilely, to conceive--a whole generation, it sometimes seemed, of careerists who had put off childbearing for years, and now wanted more than anything a child of their own, and were deep into sperm motility tests, in vitro fertilizations, and the lot. . . . At first we were frisky, reveling in it like newlyweds. Later, it became another chore to perform, like moving the car for alternate-side-of-the-street parking, but with the added fear that all our efforts might be in vain." (They weren't.)

Here is Rick Bass, who builds rock wall with his young daughters to teach them "to believe in work." "There is within us all a wonderful and yet awful yearning to procrastinate. I want to nurture in them to the full extent that I can--to the full extent to which they may be receptive--an understanding and appreciation
of this other type of work, this other way of being: of working at things incrementally, in almost a hunter-gatherer fashionits own kind of organic intelligence, rather than waiting, as is so often our wont, 'til the last minute for some miracle so dependent upon the grace of another."

Here is Bill Mayher, taking a winter walk with his grown daughter and spontaneously building an igloo together that returns them both to their childhoods: "We have always tried to live by the elusive notion that it's the lucky man who plays at work, the lucky child who works at play. Now, fully immersed in shining snow, the thin membrane dividing work and play dissolves altogether. We inhale the intoxicating air of two generations of childhood fused into one, and when at last, we crawl in through the igloo's tiny door to sit together under the enchanted dome of ice-blue light arching above us, we feel, in that moment, whole decades strip away."

In their introduction, Henry and McPherson say, "Clearly the father-daughter bond in our society has been under profound strain and is in need of nurturing. The highly personal accounts here are directed toward rediscovering each other, as fathers, daughters, husbands, and wives; toward confronting the future; and toward strengthening the bond. Let the conversation continue."

I'd say if you want to let it begin, Fathering Daughters is a good place start.

--James A. Levine '67
James Levine is director of The Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work Institute in New York City and author, most recently, of Working
Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family
.

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Amherst College Books


Mirror Symmetry and Algebraic Geometry. By DAVID A. COX, Professor of Mathematics, and Sheldon Katz. Mathematical Surveys and Monographs, vol. 68. Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society, 1999. 469 pp. $69 cloth, $55 to AMS members.
As the first comprehensive monograph on the subject, this book provides an introduction to the algebro-geometric aspects of mirror symmetry. Covering the original observations by physicists through the most recent progress made to date, the book discusses toric varieties, Hodge theory, Kähler geometry, moduli of stable maps, Calabi-Yau manifolds, quantum cohomology, Gromov-Witten invariants and the mirror theorem.

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!: Pageantry and Patriotism in Cold-War America. By RICHARD M. FRIED '63. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1998. 220 pp. $35 cloth, $16.95 paper.
Fried recreates the Cold War era of American history, during the McCarthy Era between the end of World War II and the rise of a counter-culture, when a number of national and grassroots organizations mounted campaigns "to sell America to the Americans." Groups like the Ad Council and the American Heritage Foundation contrived "rededication" celebrations and legislated pageantry with such events as Know Your America Week, Freedom Week, Loyalty Day, Armed Forces Day, and traveling exhibitions and parades.

The Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York). By THEODORE LEVIN '73. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1999. 346 pp. $24.95 paper. ($39.95 cloth and CD, issued in 1997 and reviewed in Summer 1997 Amherst.)
Ethnomusicologist Levin takes us on a personal journey through Central Asian cultures during and after 70 years of Soviet rule, beginning in Moscow and ending up in Queensvia Bukhara, Surxandarya, Yagnab, and surrounding places. Levin's chronicle weaves musicians and their performances into a tapestry of people, places, cultures, music, religion and traditions.

Breakfast at Madeline's. By MATTHEW WITTEN '79. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Signet Books, 1999. 244 pp. $5.99 paper.
A new character in crime fiction, Jacob Burns, husband, father and frustrated writer, spends his days drinking coffee in his favorite café, Madeline's, until he becomes involved in a search to find a murderer and solve a mystery.

The Leisure Ethic: Work and Play in American Literature, 1840-1940. By WILLIAM A. GLEASON '83. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999. 446 pp. $60 cloth.
As the spread of industrialization and factory labor forced Americans to accept less meaningful jobs, the Protestant work ethic declined and Americans turned to leisure activities for personal satisfaction. Gleason explores the impact of this movement on American writers from Henry David Thoreau to Zora Neale Hurston, as they struggled with the changing nature of leisure and its influence on pressing issues of the day: immigration, women's rights, public health, race relations, cultural identity and the nature and meaning of work itself.

America at Risk: The Citizen's Guide to Missile
Defense.
By JAMES H. ANDERSON '85. Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 1999. 116 pp. $6.95 paper.
American Heritage analyst Anderson explains the strategic, legal and moral dimensions of a missile defense system. He outlines the threat that the U.S. faces from accidental, unauthorized or intentional launches from Third World and other nations.

The Vault Reports Career Guide to Media & Entertainment. By NIKKI SCOTT '97 and Mark Oldman. New York, N.Y.: Vault Reports, Inc., 1999. 430 pp. $35 paper for each career guide, 50-page reports on individual companies $25 each, 3- to 10-page mini-reports on 1,000 firms, $3.95-$9.50 each.
This issue of Vault Reports offers an insider's guide for those trying to break into the fields of media and entertainment, providing information on the culture, pay, hours and hiring process at 60 top media and entertainment firms. A career source for job seekers, the series aims to present the highest-quality, most up-to-date career information available anywhere--through books, guides and a web site that offers free job match and job board services.

--Compiled by Elizabeth J. Rolander

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