McGill-Queen's University Press Reviewed by Christine Hearn

Sharon Stewart (BA'69) fell in love with history as a charter student at SFU. Now she and her husband, Roderick Stewart, have written the definitive book about Canadian and Chinese icon Dr. Norman Bethune. The book is based on in-depth interviews with Bethune's family and friends, reviews of letters and documents, plus exhaustive research in Spain, China, and Canada.

Bethune emerges as a rather improbable and unlikeable humanitarian and hero. His passion, his bravado, his skills, and his brilliance conflict with his personal selfishness, self-aggrandizement, and plain bloody-mindedness when he wanted something.

It is startling to realize that most of Bethune's reputation today here and in China rests on his activities during a very short time: from his arrival in China in February 1938 until his death in November 1939. During that period he was with the Communist Eighth Route Army fighting in the remote Jin-Cha-Ji border region. Conditions were deplorable, and Bethune treated patients and operated on them under the most difficult of situations.

Bethune died after cutting his hand and then contracting an infection while operating without surgical gloves, only one of the many necessary medical items not available to him.

Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy

Castles Made of Sand, by André Gerolymatos, SFU foreign affairs analyst and Hellenic Studies chair, chronicles 100 years of American and British spy games in the Middle East. The activity is rooted in imperialism and the 19th century idea of the "Great Game," as well as the desire to access its rich resources by establishing control over the area. <http://us.macmillan.com/castlesmadeofsand>

Your Hands Tell the Tale

But that doesn't matter, according to the women writing in Shari Graydon's (MA'96) I Feel Great about My Hands. This lively and inspiring collection of essays by women "of a certain age" includes the thoughts of Ann Cowan, former executive director of SFU Harbour Centre; Lillian Zimmerman (BA'71), SFU gerontology researcher; actress Mary Walsh; and Marlaina Gayle, former Vancouver journalist.

A Life Well Lived

A pioneering Vancouver journalist, author, and artist comes alive in The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton by Sheryl Salloum (PDP'74, BA'84). Thorton was an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, working in both oils and watercolours. She was Vancouver Sun art critic from 1944 to 1959, and author of the award-winning Potlatch People: Indian Lives and Legends. The book contains more than 100 reproductions of her art and 17 archival photographs.

The Red Menace

Former writing program instructor Daniel Francis explores the fears about a Bolshevik revolution in Canada in Seeing Reds: The Red Scare of 1918 – 1919, Canada's First War on Terror. Francis was shortlisted for the 2010 Canada's History Pierre Berton Award for his work as a writer on Canadian history.

Art in Times of Duress

In Standing by the Ruins Ken Seigneurie looks at how novelists and filmmakers offer alternative visions in the collapsing world of Lebanon during the tumultuous years between 1975 and 2005. Seigneurie is associate professor of world literature and director of the World Literature Program at SFU Surrey.

Oh, Chicken Little

Writing program instructor Caroline Adderson's The Sky is Falling takes us to university days in 1984 and a reflection on how a student group's anti-nuclear activities and their fears about nuclear war affected their later lives. This is her third novel.

True Story

In 1926 or 1927 Lillian Alling, the subject of a Vancouver Opera production, began an epic journey on foot from New York to Siberia. She made it to B.C. and was jailed for her own safety in Oakalla Prison Farm in Burnaby because authorities feared she would die if she continued her trek through the winter. In the spring she walked north and was last spotted in Alaska. Quesnel historian Susan Smith-Josephy (BA'88) has written a non-fiction account of Alling's life called Lillian Alling: Walking Home. <http://www.caitlin-press.com/>

Titillating Toilets

Author Morna E. Gregory (CLA'93, BA'95) and photographer Sian James capture 142 interesting and unusual toilets in full colour in Toilets of the World. There's a toilet in a giant cactus in Bolivia, a solid gold one in Hong Kong, and one on stilts in the Caribbean. <http://toiletsoftheworldbook.com/>

Moms Unite

Liesl Jurock (CLA'99, BA'99, MEd'08) is SFU's co-op coordinator for Communications, and she also has time to be a writing and blogging mom. She has articles in two recent books: Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood and Chicken Soup for the New Mom's Soul. You can also follow her blog at www.mamaslog.com.

Philosophical Dilemma

In Love and Arms: Violence and Justification after Levinas, Helen Douglas (BGS'97) focuses on violence and whether and how it can be justified. Douglas's study grew out of her experiences running a safe house for underground leaders of the South African liberation movement. She and her husband, Rob Douglas (BSc'93), were forced to flee South Africa in 1990, returning to Vancouver and SFU. In her last semester she did an independent study on French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, whose writings on ethics were directly relevant to her questions on violence.

Who Is At Fault?

Shyam J. Kamath, (MA'81, PhD'87) is one of three editors of Corporate Governance Failures: The Role of Institutional Investors in the Global Financial Crisis. The book looks at the role of large, supposedly sophisticated international investors in the recent global financial crisis. Kamath is associate dean at Saint Mary's College of California and is also the author of The Political Economy of Suppressed Markets.

Turn the TV Off

That's the advice communications professor Stephen Kline is giving parents who are worried about childhood obesity. In his book Globesity, Food Marketing and Family Lifestyles, Kline argues that the real culprit isn't what's on TV, but rather too much TV. He says people should just turn the TV off so kids will go outside to play, rather than obsessing over and trying to control what kind of advertising they are watching.

Charles Olson Centenary

English professor emeritus Ralph Maud celebrates the centenary of the poet's birth with a revised second edition of Muthologies, the poet's collected lectures and interviews. This new compilation includes five pieces not part of the 1978 edition.

From Contest to Publication

Christopher Meades's (BA'97) The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark started as a project in the 3-Day Novel Contest. Meades didn't win, but the comedic novel found a publisher and is now selling well. He credits the SFU Continuing Studies fiction master class with helping him polish his skills.

Too Many Deaths

Avalanche Accidents in Canada, co-authored by Pascal Haegeli, SFU avalanche safety researcher, looks at slides that occurred between 1996 and 2007 and recounts the stories of survivors. There were 155 avalanche deaths during the period, most of them in Western Canada, of which 139 occurred during recreational activities. The book is available from the Canadian Avalanche Association and at Mountain Equipment Co-op stores.

Award-Winning

Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston (MFA'00, PhD'06) wins two prizes for Staging Strife: Lessons from Performing Ethnography with Polish Roma Women. The Laurier University anthropology professor receives the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2011 Qualitative Book Award and is co-winner of the Ann Saddlemyer Outstanding Book Award honouring work of significant merit in Canadian theatre research.

Market Yourself Online

Angela Crocker's (BA'95) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Social Network tells you what you need to know to set up your own online community. It's useful for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others wanting to get their message out to a wider community.

Epic Family History

From England to Australia to Canada – that's the canvas of David J. Porter's (BA'68) Leaving Lincolnshire – In Chains. An ancestor, John Porter, was accused of killing a sheep and was deported to Australia in 1836. One by one his sons immigrated to Canada, but there is no record of what happened to the original John Porter.
<http://www.burningambition.org/>

First Book Competition

The SFU Writer's Studio has three winners in its first national literary contest. The books are Birthmother by Myrl Coulter (creative non-fiction), Nondescript Rambunctious by Jackie Bateman (fiction), and Galaxy by Rachel Thompson (poetry). The winning books will be published by Vancouver's Anvil Press. <www.thewritersstudio.ca>

Column Art book cover: Courtesy Eric Tofsrud