new books
Initial Burden
An Account of the American
and British Naval Forces
Present at the Outset
of the Korean War
Michael Steffan ’80
pages, softcover
Available at
North Korea’s invasion of
South Korea, which touched
off war on June 25, 1950,
was so fierce and unex-
pected that many feared
the Republic of South Korea
would not survive. Histori-
ans credit the U.S. and Brit-
ish navies, although reduced
in size after the end of
World War II, with being the
key responders that saved
the country.
Initial Burden
is the story
of the people and vessels
involved in the early days of
the conflict. Author Michael
Steffan also chronicles what
happened to the ships after
the war; while most were
destined for the scrap heap,
a few remain as museum
Steffan has some familial
interest in the subject. His
father was one of the sailors
stationed on the light cruiser
at the outset of
the Korean War. The
flagship for U.S. forces dur-
ing the occupation of post-
war Japan, is pictured on
the book’s cover.
The Artist’s
Alexandra Hogan
Kuykendall ’96
pages, softcover and
Kindle edition
Alexandra Kuykendall’s life
sounds grand to those of us
reading about it. The daugh-
ter of a single, globetrotting
mom, she has lived in many
fabulous places. But there
was one thing missing—she
didn’t meet her father until
she was almost 9 years old.
The Artist’s Daughter
with the story of that first
meeting in Barcelona, a
long-anticipated event that
was utterly disappointing.
The rest of Kuykendall’s
touching memoir is a series
of vignettes that illustrate
her search for the answers
to life’s big questions about
love and relationships.
I confess to a bit of
for laughing
out loud at the account of
her first anniversary, when
husband Derek Kuykendall
gave her a wooden
dish-drying rack for a gift.
Dude, no; and no vacuum
cleaners, either!) They’re
still together and raising four
daughters in Denver, where
Alexandra works for MOPS
International (Mothers of
Preschoolers),which sup-
ports moms.
Theo’sTricks and
Other GreekYarns
William E. Tudor ’55
pages, softcover and
Kindle edition
Bill Tudor freely admits that
it’s a little strange for some-
one who doesn’t read many
novels to have written one.
Tudor—a retired Episcopal
minister who was an Eng-
lish major at Puget Sound—
especially loves to read
about language. His particu-
lar interests in etymology,
the Greek language, and
Greek mythology, combined
with a “vast well of imperti-
nence,” were the genesis of
Theo’s Tricks.
The book is a delightful
mash-up of classical Greek
myths, reimagined some-
what by the author, and is
packed with multilingual
puns and wordplay. Tudor
challenges the reader to
find the English words with
Greek roots used in
he says there are
about 170 of them worked
into the text. It’s clear that
he found his Muse for this
book, which promises to be
a fun read for bibliophiles
who enjoy these ancient
tales and love thinking about
the roots of language.
Greg Scheiderer
New Natures
Environmental History with
Science and Technology
Sara Pritchard ’94,
Dolly Jørgensen,
Finn Arne
Jørgensen, editors
pages, softcover
University of Pittsburgh
The chapters in
New Natures
were chosen specifically
to explore how skills and
expertise in science and
technology studies (STS)
help enhance the work of
environmental historians.
The three editors each
contribute a chapter, includ-
ing the introductory one
by Sara Pritchard, an as-
sociate professor at Cornell.
Pritchard says the volume is
pretty academic and esoter-
ic.” It investigates how STS
concepts enrich the analysis
of environmental history,
how joining the fields can
lead to wider insights, and
how such insights might
help the public and policy-
makers understand the deep
roots and complex causes of
the pressing environmental
issues of the day.
The title alludes to the
possibility of creative,
productive opportunities
for meaningful work in the
scholarly world, and beyond.
Disalmanac: A Book
of Fact-Like Facts
Scott Bateman ’86
pages, softcover and
Kindle edition
Humorist Scott Bateman’s
is structured
just like an actual, factual
reference work, with sec-
tions about history, holidays,
states, cities, nations, re-
ligions, science, arts, and
The volume opens with a
lengthy section containing
a fact about each day of the
year, such as March 14, the
birth date of Albert Einstein,
a scientist noted for invent-
ing relatives. Speaking of
relatives, the
relates that the U.S. Thanks-
giving Day is a holiday on
which families celebrate
that “no one has to talk to
one another as long as the
game is on.” We were es-
pecially pleased to learn in
the U.S. history section that
the 1970s are known as the
Arnold Horshack Decade, and
that President Jimmy Carter
was unpopular because he
couldn’t stop the spread of
disco music across our great
may not get
you through medical school
as promised, but it’s an
amusing read. It’s also a work
in progress: follow the blog at