In An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d’Albert-Lake (Fordham University, 2005), Judy Barrett Litoff 67C 68G tells the remarkable story of an ordinary American woman’s heroism during World War II.
On June 12, 1944, the Germans arrested d’Albert-Lake and an Allied airman she was leading to safety. D’Albert-Lake’s work in the French Resistance was over—she would spend the next eleven months as a prisoner of war, much of it in the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. What distinguished her from other resisters was that she was an American citizen who chose to remain in France, where her dangerous work nearly cost her life.
Litoff brings together two rare documents in this book—d’Albert-Lake’s diary of wartime France until her capture in 1944 and her prison memoir written immediately after the war. Together, they capture the compassion and toughness of a nearly forgotten heroine as they provide an invaluable record of the workings of the Resistance by one of the very few American women who participated in it.
“This is at once a stunning self-portrait and dramatic narrative of a valorous young American woman who in World War II stayed in France to fight alongside her French husband in the French resistance,” says journalist Walter Cronkite. “Her own dramatic story is testimony to her love, heroism, and courage.”
In her sharply observed memoir, Lifeguarding (Harmony Books, 2006), Catherine McCall 83C 87M paints a vivid and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of growing up in a complicated Southern family, whose perfect façade hides crippling imperfections.
There are two parents, three children, and five ghosts in the McCall family. With their preppie clothes and country-club smiles, the McCalls look like all the other East End Louisville, Kentucky, families. No one knows there are problems, that an internal gash the size of the Ohio river is flooding the family. All Cathy and her siblings can do is promise to stick together no matter what—and swim.
But even though they are fast, the McCall kids can’t outdistance their father’s destructive habits and their mother’s worry. As her family reaches a breaking point and an unexpected love blooms, thirteen-year-old Cathy finds she must keep secrets of her own. Though the love in this family is strong, Cathy must discover if it’s tenacious enough to withstand the truth.
“A beautiful book in every way,” writes Philip Gerard, author of Cape Fear Rising. “Written with grace and gentle confidence . . . the sentences are captivating, the real-life characters surprise us with their turnabouts, and the ongoing metaphor of swimming in dangerous waters arises naturally from the landscape of a childhood spent swimming—and watching the unlucky innocent drown.”
Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClercq 67G is the editor of Tales From The Grand Tour (University of South Carolina Press, 2006), which details the Edwardian-era peregrinations of her great-grand aunt, Elizabeth Sinkler Coxe.
A member of the prominent Sinkler family of Charleston and Philadelphia, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sinkler married into Philadelphia’s wealthy Coxe family in 1870. Widowed just three years later, she dedicated herself to a lifelong pursuit of philanthropy, intellectual endeavor, and extensive travel. Heeding the call of their dauntless adventuresome spirits, Lizzie and her son Eckley set sail in 1890 on a series of odysseys that would take them from the United States to Cairo, Luxor, Khartoum, Algiers, Istanbul, Naples, Vichy, and Athens.
Like many of their peers in the upper echelons of American society, this wealthy duo were drawn into the Egyptian craze that swept late-nineteenth-century society, and they fully immersed themselves in the nascent field of scientific archaeology. More obsessed and philanthropic than most, the Coxes not only visited the sites and monuments of ancient civilizations but also participated in digs, funded entire expeditions, and ultimately subsidized the creation of the Coxe Wing of Ancient History at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In addition to the scholarly contributions gained through their patronage, they left a vivid chronicle of camels and trains, tents and trenches, and dervishes and pyramids that has gone unpublished until now.
Leclercq is director of the Daniel Library at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.
Rebecca Sharpless 93PhD is coeditor with Melissa Walker of Work, Family, and Faith: Rural Southern Women in the Twentieth Century (University
of Missouri Press, 2006), a collection of essays that will be of particular interest to anyone interested in sociology, women’s studies, or Southern history.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the majority of rural Southerners were dependent on agriculture and eked out a living as tenants on land owned by someone else. Women took on multiple duties, from child-rearing to labor in the fields, to help meet their own goals of independence, well-being, and family persistence on the land. Over the course of the century, however, women found their lives and their work transformed. Government intervention, the Great Depression, and industrial job opportunities created by the two world wars and the development of Sun Belt industries lured or pushed tens of thousands of black and white rural Southerners off the land. Whether they moved to the cities or stayed on the farms, most of these women continued to struggle against poverty and relied on tradition and inner strength to get by.
Tom Pierpont 83C is the author of The Starmaker Project (Authorhouse, 2005), “a fast-paced thriller that explores the real-life dangers inherent to those charged with safeguarding the nation.”
—Compiled by Andrew W. M. Beierle