September 14, 2005: From the Editor
The Princetonians featured in this issue — our first of the new academic year — do not shy away from challenges.
In our cover story, Mark F. Bernstein ’83 writes about Debbie Moderow ’77, who last year completed the Iditarod, a grueling 1,100-mile sled-dog trek across tundra and ice. It was Moderow’s second attempt to complete what’s called the “Last Great Race on Earth”; the first ended when her team of dogs mutinied on the ice. Moderow resolved to try again — after all, others in her family were doing it — and began an intense training effort to ensure a different outcome. She succeeded.
Alex Barnett writes about a challenge of a different sort in his piece about Princeton history professor Jan Gross. A few years before arriving at Princeton, Gross wrote a book called Neighbors, which has dramatically changed scholarship and popular thinking about the role of Poles during the Holocaust. Gross’ work focused on the small Polish town of Jedwabne, where Polish residents murdered virtually all the town’s Jewish residents in 1941. The book muddied Poland’s standard narrative of its people’s role during the Holocaust: that Poles were victims and resisters, and that — with very few exceptions — the killing was done by German occupiers. In showing a more complicated picture, Gross, as a scholar, challenged how a nation saw itself. And for Gross, born in Poland to a Jewish father, the work had great personal meaning as well.
Perhaps the greatest challenge featured here was taken on by Graham Phillips ’05, the author of our Perspective essay, “Why I joined the Army.” Phillips was the salutatorian at last spring’s Commencement; his witty and humorous address — given in Latin, as tradition requires — sent ripples of laughter through the rows of graduates seated in front of Nassau Hall. Nerve-racking as it was, being salutatorian was the easy part. A few weeks later, Phillips was in basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., preparing to join a tank crew. In mid-August, his mother, Melissa Phillips, reported that Graham felt very positive about the experience, though it was not an easy endeavor. “He’s finding it the challenge he thought it would be, and more so,” she said, noting that Graham was coping well with the demands of extreme communal living and a complete lack of free time. “But he’s rising to the occasion.” His thoughtful essay leaves no room to doubt that he would.
The new year brings new student columnists to write our On the Campus column. In addition to Christian Burset ’07 and P.G. Sittenfeld ’07, who return to PAW, we welcome five new writers: Michael Frazer GS, Adam Gottesfeld ’07, Elyse Graham ’07, Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08, and Amy Sennett ’06. To learn more about them, visit princeton.edu/paw.