Read our interactive issue to see videos, links and more.
A book by Mary McCulley Umstot ’79.
Despite its classification as a children’s book, Mary McCulley Umstot ’79 describes it as “a nautical book for all ages.” Watercolor illustrations and rhyming lines take readers on a tour aboard Teka III, with Arnold the Anchor as their guide. Umstot found inspiration in her 33 years of boating experience and wanted to teach readers not only what boats are, but what they do. “Children could be around boats all the time, but hopefully this will create a greater appreciation for those
A book by Dan Hobbs ’68.
A behind-the-scenes look at city management, taken from the 44 years Dan Hobbs ’68 spent as a public administrator in 11 jurisdictions, highlight this memoir, written under the pen name Ben Leiter. Vignettes recall memories of murder, drug running, betrayal and scandal. Hobbs described the book as a way to finally “let it all out” after his retirement. “This is the way it really is,” he said. “I hope readers have a greater appreciation for city managers, for the work they do and the pressures they work under. I credit UD with strengthening my sense of social justice.”
A book by Margaret Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk ’83.
American Originals explores the Polish-American lifestyle with each chapter, including one written by Margaret Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk ’83 outlining the history and culture of Polish polka music through personal interviews and musician testimonies. Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk grew up in north Dayton’s Polish community and later discovered the rich Polish culture in Toledo, Ohio; now, she’s determined to preserve it. “Polish culture and music is much like a folk oral tradition: If someone doesn’t write it down, and the folks who lived it die off, it’s gone.”
A book by Chris Irvin ’06.
Chris Irvin ’06 has kept his eye on Mexico in the news. When he heard about Mayor Maria Santos Gorrostieta’s death in 2012, the idea for his novel, Federales, began to grow. The fictional story describes a federal agent who is appointed to look after a politician, a character based on Gorrostieta, and her campaign efforts against the Mexican drug cartel. “My aim was to tell a character-driven story that gets at the heart of the struggle in Mexico,” he said. “People can get an understanding of Gorrostieta’s story while also enjoying it as a short novella.”
A book by David J. Ulbrich ’93.
A medium-length military textbook was needed to fill a void in the market, and Ulbrich met that demand, using knowledge from a history degree to cowrite a comprehensive overview of America’s military history. It can easily be covered during a 15-week college course, and the additional Web-based materials are convenient for classroom use, Ulbrich said. Since publication, it has become required reading in the U.S. Air Force Academy. “War is terrible,” he said, “but we use it to avoid things that are worse than war. Down the line, these students may look back to reading this book about the past and apply it to the present.”
A book by Emily Strand ’05.
Mass 101: Liturgy and Life outlines the basics of Mass and guides readers through the Catholic tradition of worship. “This book is written not for scholars but for average people who want to deepen their understanding of the Mass,” she said. As a campus minister and director of liturgy at UD for seven years, Strand was excited to put her knowledge and experience into the book. “I spent so much time, thought and prayer on how to prepare students for their participation in the Mass as liturgical ministers,” she said. “I was happy to use that again and put it all in one place.”
A book by Jeannette M. Adkins ’81
When Lily Lightning Bug has her glow stolen by two bigger bugs, she’s plunged into a world of fear and uncertainty — and that’s before she has to navigate the intimidating criminal justice system. Adkins, who has worked in crime victim services for more than 30 years, wrote her book to support children who are victims or witnesses of a crime, and victim’s advocates often read the book with children to help prepare them for the process of testifying. “The book references sexual abuse, but placing the story in the world of bugs makes the concept easier for children to understand and be interested in,” Adkins said.
A book by James Herbert ’63.
Full of letters from Herbert to today’s young adults, the author uses his lengthy career experience in New York City and Washington, D.C., to offer advice to the next generation. He’s been there, done that, and now he’s cheering them
on. Herbert wanted to write to young adults, not about them, he said, to explain what a liberal arts education is actually good for in the real world. “You know how to make good things happen in the world. You could choose to work against the system — how the work world works — or to conform to it, but you don’t have to make that choice,” he said.
A book by Mara Lohrstorfer Purnhagen ’95.What if you had ghost hunters for parents? What if the myth behind a ghostly game came true? These are a few of the questions Mara Purnhagen asked herself when writing her five-book series, Past Midnight. Those questions become reality for the main character, Charlotte Silver, who struggles to be normal in a paranormal world. In One Hundred Candles, the second book in the series, Charlotte encounters spirits unleashed from a weird party game. Although the series’ first novel was originally meant to stand alone, Purnhagen described the ensuing works as a great accomplishment. “The best stories always start with ‘What if,’” she said.
A book by Dan Baker ’78 and Gwen Nalls ’82.
Between 1965 and 1975, Dan Baker was a Dayton police officer, while his wife, Gwen Nalls, attended Dayton’s segregated public schools. Their book, Blood in the Streets, describes actual events following the Civil Rights Act in 1964: a 1966 drive-by murder of a black man by a racist serial killer, the violent riots that ensued and how reconciliation of racial groups within the city was reached. The authors pooled archival resources from the time as well as their own experiences. Nothing is sugarcoated, Baker said. “Many Dayton natives don’t know this part of the city’s history. We wrote the story in belief that history forgotten may be history repeated.”