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Michigan State University Press
The Canals of Mars is a memoir that explores and ponders "weakness," which in Gary Fincke's family was the catch-all term for every possible human flaw-physical, psychological, or spiritual. Fincke grew up near Pittsburgh during the 1950s and 1960s, raised by blue-collar parents for whom the problems that beset people-from alcoholism to nearsightedness to asthma to fear of heights-were nothing but weaknesses.
In a highly engaging style, Fincke meditates on the disappointments he suffered-in his body, his mind, his work-because he was convinced that he had to be "perfect." Anything less than perfection was weakness and no one, he understood from an early age, wants to be weak.
Six of the chapters in the book have been cited in Best American Essays. The chapter that provides the book's title, The Canals of Mars, won a Pushcart Prize and was included in The Pushcart Book of Essays: The Best Essays from a Quarter Century of the Pushcart Prize.
Africa's best-kept secret
Cassava is Africa's "poverty fighter" and second most important food crop. This book discusses Cassava's real role and traces research over the past 65 years. The "Cassava transformation" that is now underway in Africa has changed this traditional, reserve crop to a high-yield cash crop. However, Cassava is being neglected by governments and donor agencies because of myths and half-truths about its nutritional value and role in farm systems.
An Arab Prison Novel
Understanding the World through Stories
A Biography of Carl A. Gerstacker
Carl A. Gerstacker was born in 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio. At an early age his father, Rollin, instilled in him an interest in finance and the stock market. In 1930, when Carl turned fourteen, Rollin advised his son to withdraw his paper-route and odd-job money from a local bank and invest it all in The Dow Chemical Company. It was the beginning of a relationship that would last a lifetime. After high school, Carl landed an hourly position with Dow Chemical as a lab assistant and, at the same time, pursued an engineering degree at the University of Michigan as part of the company’s student training course. After graduating in 1938, Gerstacker continued to work for Dow Chemical until the outbreak of World War II when he joined the U.S. Army. Returning to civilian life in 1946, he was rehired by Dow and quickly moved up the corporate ladder, becoming Treasurer in 1949, Vice-President in 1955, and Chairman of the Board in 1960, a position he retained until 1976. He retired five years later in 1981.
Carl Gerstacker was a business leader who believed that every company had a special personality and that the Dow personality was largely shaped by its employees. “For Dow Chemical, people are the most important asset, not the patents, the plants, nor the products.” Gerstacker’s personal financial acumen was rivaled only by his own contributions to the sound corporate growth of Dow Chemical, a business he loved and to which he devoted his life. Gerstacker died in 1995, leaving a legacy that lives on in the form of numerous philanthropic endeavors he began during his lifetime and on whose boards he once served. Carl A. Gerstacker was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American industry.
A Finnish Immigrant Response to Industrial America in Michigan's Copper Country
The copper mines of Michigan's Copper Country, in the Upper Peninsula, were active for 150 years, from 1845 until 1995. Many of the mine workers attempted to unionize, in order to obtain better working conditions, wages, and hours.
The Michigan miners were unsuccessful in their struggles with mine owners, which came to a climax in the 1913-14 Copper Country Strike. This nine-month battle between workers represented by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and the three major mining companies in the region took a particularly nasty turn on Christmas Eve, 1913, at a party for strikers and their families organized by the WFM. As many as 500 people were in the Italian Benevolent Society hall in Calumet, Michigan, when someone reportedly shouted "fire." There was no fire, but it is estimated that 73-79 people, more than 60 of them children, died in the stampede for the exit.
Against this dramatic backdrop, Gary Kaunonen tells the story of Finnish immigrants to Copper Country. By examining the written record and material culture of Finnish immigrant proletarians-analyzing buildings, cultural institutions, and publications of the socialist-unionist media-Kaunonen adds a new depth to our understanding of the time and place, the events and a people.
Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje
A Community in Search of an Identity
Chippewa Lake is an idyllic waterfront community in north-central Michigan, popular with retirees and weekenders. The lake is surrounded by a rural farming community, but the area is facing a difficult transition as local demographics shift, and as it transforms from an agriculture-based economy to one that relies on wage labor. As farms have disappeared, local residents have employed a variety of strategies to adapt to a new economic structure. The community, meanwhile, has been indelibly affected by the advent of newcomers and retirees challenging the rural cultural values. An anthropologist with a background in sociology, Cindy L. Hull deftly weaves together oral accounts, historic documents, and participant surveys compiled from her nearly thirty years of living in the area to create a textured portrait of a community in flux.
Toward a Democratic Accommodation
The mass media and religious groups in America regularly argue about news bias, sex and violence on television, movie censorship, advertiser boycotts, broadcast and film content rating systems, government regulation of the media, the role of mass evangelism in a democracy, and many other issues. In the United States the major disputes between religion and the media usually have involved Christian churches or parachurch ministries, on the one hand, and the so-called secular media, on the other. Often the Christian Right locks horns with supposedly liberal Eastern media elite and Hollywood entertainment companies. When a major Protestant denomination calls for an economic boycott of Disney, the resulting news reports suggest business as usual in the tensions between faith groups and media empires.
Schultze demonstrates how religion and the media in America have borrowed each other’s rhetoric. In the process, they have also helped to keep each other honest, pointing out respective foibles and pretensions. Christian media have offered the public as well as religious tribes some of the best media criticism— better than most of the media criticism produced by mainstream media themselves. Meanwhile, mainstream media have rightly taken particular churches to task for misdeeds as well as offered some surprisingly good depictions of religious life.
The tension between Christian groups and the media in America ultimately is a good thing that can serve the interest of democratic life. As Alexis de Tocqueville discovered in the 1830s, American Christianity can foster the “habits of the heart” that ward off the antisocial acids of radical individualism. And, as John Dewey argued a century later, the media offer some of our best hopes for maintaining a public life in the face of the religious tribalism that can erode democracy from within. Mainstream media and Christianity will always be at odds in a democracy. That is exactly the way it should be for the good of each one.