Alumni Ink

Wild Woman, Wilderness Champion

By Maria M. Lameiras

In his junior year at Emory, author Will Harlan 97C 97G got an assignment for an Emory literature class that he’s been working on ever since. That’s when Harlan learned about Carol Ruckdeschel and began the research that would eventually become Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island, the story of a rugged island and the remarkable woman who has spent decades fighting all takers—including the Carnegies, commercial shrimpers, and the government—to preserve its precious wilderness and save the sea turtles who nest there. A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Ruckdeschel is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia. Due on shelves in May, Untamed was selected by Barnes and Noble as one of its eighteen Discover Great New Writers books for 2014. Harlan is editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and Sports Illustrated.

Life Interrupted: Henry Dumas (1934–1968) was a writer who did not live to see most of his fiction and poetry in print. A son of Sweet Home, Arkansas, and Harlem, New York, he devoted himself to the creation of a black literary cosmos, one in which black literature and culture were windows into the human condition. In 1968, months before his thirty-fourth birthday, Dumas was shot and killed by a white transit policeman in Harlem under circumstances never fully explained. In Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas, Jeffrey B. Leak 97PhD offers a narrative of both Dumas’s life and his creative development. Given unprecedented access to the Dumas archival materials and through interviews with family, friends, and writers who knew him, Leak opens the door to Dumas’s rich, and at times frustrating, life, giving a layered portrait of an African American writer and his coming of age during one of the most volatile and transformative decades in American history. Leak is an associate professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of the New South at the University of UNC Charlotte.

A Question of Honor: When South Carolina lieutenant governor James H. Tillman lost the 1902 gubernatorial race, he blamed the stinging editorials of Narciso G. Gonzales, editor of South Carolina’s most powerful newspaper, the State. On January 15, 1903, Tillman shot and killed Gonzales to avenge the defeat and redeem his honor. James Lowell Underwood 59C 62L investigates Tillman’s epic murder trial and the clash between the revered values of respect for human life and freedom of expression on one hand and deeply ingrained ideas about honor on the other. Underwood is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law and the author of a four-volume history of South Carolina’s constitutions and of several works on federal legal practice.

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