Fifty years of U.S.-South Africa relations
A sprawling history by Robert Massie '78
Loosing the Bonds:
The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years
Robert Kinloch Massie '78
Robert Kinloch Massie '78 has written a large (832 pages, including 166 pages of notes and bibliography), sprawling, intriguing, and somewhat undigested history of the relationship between the U.S. and South Africa during the apartheid years (1948 to 1994). He is not the first author to study the divergent paths of institutionalized white rule or the relationships between the U.S. as emerging superpower after World War II and South Africa as it became a pariah state. However, the history provided here, especially from the 1950s to the late 1980s, is probably as well written and evocative as any to be found in popular publications. The specialist will find less of interest, except in the analysis of the U.S. divestment movement.
It is said of the Balkans that they have too much history, and South Africa shares that curse. Massie's style of recounting South Africa's history is a particularly good one. He weaves a complex yet completely coherent story that moves repeatedly from studies of leaders to stories examining the experiences of regular people to analyses of the great structural forces affecting nations. The style is not particularly "academic," but the comprehensive endnotes make it clear that the author has done his homework. Massie's success is based on an excellent grasp of recent South Africa historiography combined with the author's own experiences as an anti-apartheid activist and his research on the divestment movement. Indeed, the major problem with the writing is that Massie seems to have included in the book everything he ever learned about South Africa. However, while Massie's sympathies throughout are very clear, his recounting is factually sound.
The book's major drawback stems in good part from its major advantage. The story of U.S.-South Africa relations is a fascinating one, but it provides a very particular lens through which to view developments in South Africa, especially after the mid-1980s. While Massie's evaluation of the effect of sanctions and divestment is much more nuanced than is often found in the literature, he still has a tendency to attach too much emphasis to external influences on the decisions of South African leaders. Indeed, despite several hundred pages of history, Massie clearly has a great deal of difficulty explaining F.W. de Klerk's decision to suddenly begin the dismantling of apartheid and release Nelson Mandela in February 1990. Of course, de Klerk's actions were a surprise to everyone, but the former white leader has repeatedly said that his calculations were based much more on internal South African developments and that external pressure was less of an issue. Massie does not exactly deny de Klerk's stated motivations, but the previous several hundred pages on the role of external pressure on South Africa sit uneasily with the coda on the dismantling of apartheid.
-- Jeffrey Herbst '83
Jeffrey Herbst is an associate professor of politics and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.
Where yeast met West
Bread: A key to cultural history
The Bakers of Paris and the Bread Question
Steven Laurence Kaplan '63
The most remarkable sensation for American tourists in Paris is often the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from the ovens of the thousands of bakeries that dot the cityscape. Surely there is no more anticipated moment in the visitor's day than breaking the recently purchased, remarkably inexpensive staple of French life and devouring what has become, across the Atlantic, an almost forgotten pleasure: a freshly baked loaf of bread. That is, until the third or fourth loaf, when the nostalgia for a simpler, bygone way of life gives way to the realization that in fact the modern pain is a tough, tasteless affair which quickly becomes a chore to eat and is stale within hours. Alas, the modern, regulation baguette bears little resemblance to either its ancestors in France or to the wondrous creations anyone can produce at home. And yet the same baguette is still so intimately bound up in French culture and life that it stubbornly remains the defining symbol of Frenchness both in France and abroad.
How this came to be is the central theme that Steven Laurence Kaplan '63 seeks to answer in his monumental new book, the culmination of decades of painstaking research in a bewildering variety of archives, and of a wealth of personal observation (Kaplan worked as a baker's apprentice in Paris for several months). In The Bakers of Paris, Kaplan takes what has usually only been casually mentioned by historians, and makes it a central object of historical inquiry. The most impressive aspect of the book, indeed, is the depth and thoroughness with which Kaplan is able to use bread as a key to understanding the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that shaped old-regime France, and hence much of the modern West.
Though a symbol of sharing, brotherhood, and life, bread, it turns out, was often the cause of intense and sometimes violent conflict in 18th-century Paris. Control of production and distribution was often contested among the branches of the royal government and the Paris police. The baker's guild struggled tirelessly to establish and preserve a monopoly on certain kinds of bread and certain ways of marketing it, while factions within the guild battled for supremacy. At the same time, bakers from the faubourgs and surrounding areas, who were crucial in supplying bread to the laboring poor, fought to maintain their own rights to produce and distribute bread in Paris's many semiweekly marketplaces. On one side, bread consumers clamored for fair prices, and theories of conspiracies among the bakers circulated constantly, while on the other, bakers tried, sometimes in vain, to juggle the credit they had extended to their customers with their own debts to distributors.
The fascinating and precarious balance among these groups and forces allowed Parisian life to go on, though fraught with tensions. Whenever cracks appeared, through bread riots, a lapse in police enforcement, or the suppression of guilds, they were devastating to Parisians' sense of order and well-being, and threatened and eventually overthrew the civic and social order itself. Kaplan argues convincingly that it was the breakdown of this system, in part, that ultimately led to the French Revolution.
-- Jordan Kellman *97
Jordan Kellman earned his Ph.D. in the history of science and is an adjunct professor of history at the Honors College of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
David Remnick '81 at The New Yorker
David Remnick '81 was named editor of The New Yorker magazine in July. Remnick began his career in journalism at The Washington Post before moving to The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1994, soon after receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his book on the former Soviet Union, Lenin's Tomb. While at Princeton, Remnick was the first arts editor of The Nassau Weekly, a stringer for the Press club, and a student of narrative journalism in John McPhee '53's course "The Literature of Fact."
One of these times very soon
I will have and hold a day
blank as a new pillowcase
or a field of fresh snow.
And then and there once again
I will lay down my head, I will
make angels in the wet snow.
I will write words words words,
as you do, and will sign my name,
naming my new poems like children,
calling them home from the dark.
From Days of Our Lives Lie in Fragments, a collection of poetry by George Garrett '52 *85, a professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia (Louisiana State University Press, $26.95).
Musical medicine man
Dr. William Woods '82 cuts jazz album
A Doctor's Dilemma is more than just the title of William Kanter Woods '82's impressive debut album of keyboard-based jazz. It's also the story of his incredibly hectic life. Woods is tackling not one, but two demanding careers, dividing his time between jazz composition and radiation oncology.
A student of piano and composition at the prestigious Juilliard School before coming to Princeton, Woods put music on hold while studying at Albert Einstein Medical School in the Bronx. Ironically, it was his career adviser there who lured him back to music by introducing him to the wonders of MIDI (computer interfaced music) composition. Woods now travels the country working locum tenens, that is, filling in for a few weeks at a time at hospitals needing a radiation oncologist, then races back to New York to make music. "It's disruptive," he says of his nomadic existence, "but it's a necessity at present if I'm going to hire the musicians I want."
On A Doctor's Dilemma, Woods has assembled an impressive array of New York studio veterans to complement his own virtuosic work at the piano. The album's 11 cuts are all original compositions and vary widely, from "smooth" jazz to light funk, from new age to romantic classical material.
"Featherbed Lane," over which a wistful flute hovers, recalls a street of that name located, incongruously, in the Bronx, while "The Boatman's Song" is a kind of hymn of thanks to the kayaker who pulled an exhausted Woods and his girlfriend from the surf in Hawaii. The standout title cut starts with a ruminative piano solo whose unexpected harmonies recall Thelonious Monk, then kicks into a Latin vamp. Full of bright melodies and sharp grooves, A Doctor's Dilemma is available at Tower Records and Borders bookstores or can be ordered via the Internet at www.artistfirst.com or email@example.com.
Woods has no idea what the future holds, so much depending on how this album does. "My musical career is so fledgling," says Woods, who is already at work on his next album, which is more blues-based. "It's been a fight for me because of the time constraints. I love medicine, but music is close to my heart."
-- Merrell Noden '78
Film: Gayner work to air on PBS
Kay Gayner '86 cowrote, with Macky Alston, Family Name, a documentary that will air September 15 on PBS as part of the network's Tele-vision Race Initiative series. The award-winning film documents Alston's search for both descendants of slaves once owned by his family and for unknown relatives descended from slave owners. Gayner is a writer and actor in New York City and is scheduled to appear in the short film Heroines next year. She performs regularly with Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York.
A Website fit for a queen: www.nic.gov.jo
Princeton in Her Majesty's Service? Lisa Halaby '73, now Queen Noor of Jordan, expresses just that sentiment in her Website at www.nic.gov.jo. The site's speech section contains an address she gave last year at the 250th anniversary celebration. She remarked, "The best preparation of all for my life as queen was my major in architecture and urban planning, which offered a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and resolving some of the most basic needs of individuals and communities." She also picked up practical skills, such as "a reduced need for sleep." Such comments are part of a vivid, informative, and at times delightfully surprising Website. Queen Noor's startlingly personal photo album features images that document her life, from American youth (don't miss the Tiger cheerleader shot), through her courtship and marriage to King Hussein, to pictures of their family. It all looks as regular as apple pie -- handsome kids, loving couple, and even the off-beat photo caption like, "Welcome back, mom and dad!" The site, however, is far more than the record of a photogenic family. Sections on Queen Noor's humanitarian and civic work give a more rounded view of her, as do interviews that are especially useful in providing Americans with an unfiltered perspective on the Middle East. Her extended comments on the peace process, her adopted country, her duties, and even her relations with other Arabic First Ladies lend a human perspective to the region, one way to bridge "the vast distance between western myths and stereotypes and the realities of the Middle East," as she said in her Princeton speech. The site suggests that Noor is a queen who takes her historical mission seriously.
-- Van Wallach '80
In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals Between Apocalypse and Enlightenment, by Anson Rabinach (California, $35) -- Addresses the writings of central figures in 20th-century German thought, exploring their preoccupation with catastrophe. Rabinach is a professor of history.
Galaxy Morphology and Classification, by Sidney van den Bergh '50 (Cambridge, $39.95) -- Explains the most widely used schemes for the classification of galaxies. Van den Bergh is director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia.
An Albanian Journal: The Road to Elbasan, by Edmund Keeley '48 (White Pine Press, 10 Village Sq., Fredonia, NY 14063, $14.00) -- A record of the author's journey to Albania, describing the impact of the Stalinist regime, steps toward democracy, and meetings with city dwellers and rural farmers. Keeley is a professor of English, emeritus.
The Church as Moral Community: Ecclesiology and Ethics in Ecumenical Debate, by Lewis S. Mudge '51, *61 (Continuum, $19.95) -- This book argues that churches need to provide moral influence before engaging in politicized policy arguments. Mudge is a professor of systematic theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Contraceptive Technology, by James Trussell *75 et al. (Ardent Media, Box 286, Cooper Station P.O., N.Y., NY 10276-0286, $39.95) -- The 17th revised edition of a reference for family-planning practitioners. Trussell is a professor of economics and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.
Father of the Poor? Vargas and His Era, by Robert M. Levine *67 (Cambridge, $54.95) -- Examines the life and legacy of Getúlio Vargas, Brazil's dictator and president during most of the period from 1930 to 1954. Bitita's Diary: The Childhood Memoirs of Carolina Maria de Jesus, edited by Robert M. Levine (M.E. Sharpe, $19.95) -- The autobiographical memoir of the black Brazilian woman whose adult diary became the nation's best-selling book in history. Brazilian Legacies, by Robert M. Levine (M.E. Sharpe, $23.95) -- A discussion of how the Brazilian system works and moves individuals to act. Illustrated with photographs by Genevieve Taylor. Levine is director of Latin American Studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.
Guide to Software Export: A Handbook for International Software Sales, by Roger A. Philips '67 (International Business Press, $49.95) -- Provides a step-by-step approach to initiating and expanding international software sales. Philips is vice-president of Landmark Systems Corporation.
Health Communication: Lessons from Family Planning and Reproductive Health, by Phyllis Tilson Piotrow, D. Lawrence Kincaid, Jose G. Rimon II *84, and Ward Rinehart (Praeger, $24.95) -- The authors show how applying social-science theory to health communication can revolutionize health promotion in developing nations. Rimon is a project director at the Center for Communication Progress at Johns Hopkins University.
Letters from the "Old Home Place": Anxieties and Aspirations in Rural New England, 1836-1843, edited by Mary Babson Fuhrer '79 (Boylston Historical Society, P.O. Box 459, Boylston, MA 01505) -- Over 70 letters from the White Family Collection at Old Sturbridge Village, providing insights on rural life in Jacksonian America. Fuhrer is a historian at Fruitlands Museums in Harvard, Massachusetts.
The Mirror of Justice: Literary Reflections of Legal Crises, by Theodore Ziolkowski (Princeton, $47.50) -- Using principles from the anthropological theory of legal evolution, the author analyzes major works of literature that reflect crises in the development of Western law. Ziolkowski is the Class of 1900 Professor of German and comparative literature.