A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Margaret Cho is an American stand-up comedian and actress. She is best known for her stand-up routines in which she critiques current political and social problems.
For a complete run-down of her career highlights, I recommend checking out this IMDb bio HERE. There are just too many for me to cover in detail.
Her groundbreaking ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994), while short lived, was the first sitcom to feature an all Asian-American cast. The show was based on her own life and stand-up comedy act.
Later, her 1999 off Broadway one-woman show, I’m the One That I Want, toured nationally to great critical acclaim and was even turned into a book and feature film.
I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight is her second book and was released in 2005 alongside an audio reading, a DVD of a live taping of her Assassin tour, and a national book tour.
While she continues to earn accolades in both TV and comedy, her activism is also highly celebrated. She has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, Lamda Legal Defense, NGLTF, PFLAG, and many more for her work in promoting equal rights for all. She has received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at LA Pride in 2011.
“If you say you’re not a feminist, you’re almost denying your own existence. To be a feminist is to be alive.”
Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Adrienne Sharp is a critically acclaimed author and national bestseller.
Her work often immerses readers in the world of ballet. She knows it well. She began her ballet career at the age of seven. Sharp trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York.
But in the midst of her grueling and rigorous training, Sharp began to question her life’s path.
“One day, while doing grands battements at the barre, I had a traitorous thought, which was simply: I’m sick of doing this. So I left ballet and began the task of assembling a regular life – a difficult task when you don’t have the glamorous discipline of tooling the body. I began to write to help me get through it. And when I started to write about ballet, the two halves of my life came together.”
She received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia.
Let’s learn a bit more about Thuy’s remarkable diary and the journey it took to publication, shall we? Dang Thuy Tram, born in Vietnam in 1942, was a young doctor. During the Vietnam War, she worked for the People’s Army of Vietnam and Vietcong as a battlefield surgeon, clinic supervisor, and medical teacher. On June 22, 1970 she was killed by a patrol from the US 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment while fleeing from a clinic that was undergoing repeated attacks. She was 27 years old. The last two years of her life are chronicled in her diaries, published as Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
“Last night I dreamed that Peace was established, I came back and saw everybody.”
Following Thuy’s death, her diary was discovered by Fred Whitehurst, a 22 year old military intelligence specialist under strict orders to burn any documents he encountered without military value. He defied these orders. Instead, choosing to follow the advice of a South Vietnamese translator who said, “Don’t burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.” He kept Thuy’s pages for 35 years, hoping to some day return them to her family.
His search for her family initially fell short. Whitehurst had returned to the U.S. after the war and pursued a career in chemistry, earning a Ph.D. and joining the FBI. Eventually, he enlisted the help of his brother Robert, another Vietnam vet, and the two of them brought the diary to a conference at Texas Tech University, home of a Vietnam Archive, in 2005.
At the conference, they met up with a photographer named Ted Engelmann who was planning a trip to Vietnam for work. He offered to do some scouting efforts for the brothers while there. It worked! Engelmann located Thuy’s mom.
Shortly after finding themselves in possession of scanned copies of her work, Thuy’s family had the diary published in Vietnam. Nhật ký Đặng Thùy Trâm rapidly became a hit. 300,000 copies were sold in less than a year and reviews drew comparisons between the wartime diaries and the work of Anne Frank.
Amidst the success of the publication, the Whitehurst brothers traveled to Hanoi to meet the family and later they would all visit Lubbock, Texas where the diaries were archived. Upon seeing her daughter’s handwritten notebooks, Thuy’s mother said, “Her corpse is in Vietnam, but this is her soul.”
In 2007 Thuy’s diary was translated into English for broader publication and this book would include photographs of Thuy and her family from their personal collection. While Vietnamese readers were huge fans of the book, folks involved were worried American reactions might be mixed, due to the depiction of U.S. involvement in the war and Thuy’s frequent references to the “American devils.”
Regardless, readers found Thuy’s words provided an honest depiction of the realities of war. The deputy director of the Vietnam Archive said, “They contain an emotional element that is typically lacking in official documents.”
“Don’t burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.”
Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! Part 3, coming soon!
Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Kamala Harris is an attorney and politician who has served as the junior U.S. senator from California since 2017. She launched her presidential campaign on January 27, 2019.
As a senator, she has supported lowering taxes for middle and working class folk, DREAMers, sanctuary cities, marijuana legalization, and single-payer healthcare. Harris doesn’t back down from a battle and has taken on the criminal justice system, Wall Street Banks, and opponents of marriage equality.
She was born in Oakland, California and graduated from Howard University and UC, Hastings College of Law. She’s worked in the San Francisco D.A.’s office and the City Attorney of San Francisco’s office. She was elected the District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004.
In 2010, she became California’s Attorney General, and was reelected in 2014. Next, she became U.S. senator–the first of Jamaican or Indian ancestry.
Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, through which she has two stepchildren–they call her their Momala.
“My mother had a saying: ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.’“
More with Kamala Harris
KAMALA An interview on Call Your Girlfriend In Pitch For PresidentAn interview on NPR’s Morning Edition Seeking the Presidency to Preserve “The Truths We Hold” An interview on The Daily Show
His work primarily explores the discord, problems, and potential that arises from the intersection of religion and culture. Tom considers himself a secular progressive, and Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower stemmed from his idea that crucial moral guidance and insight can be gleaned from the Jesus found on the pages of the New Testament.
Not only an author and journalist, Krattenmaker is also a speaker — at the American Humanist Association conference on multiple occasions, as well as countless other events and many universities. He’s won awards from organizations like the American Academy of Religion, Religion Newswriters Association, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and the Muslim Educational Trust.
He currently calls New Haven, Connecticut home and you can follow him on Twitter HERE.
“On the mountains I’ve climbed, figuratively speaking, I’ve discovered, and then rediscovered again and again, the anchor that means the most to me, the anchor I find most worthy of my trust. It’s the ethic and the inspiration and, indeed, the way of an ancient figure with whom we are acquainted, but whose relevance to our lives and society might not be so readily apparent, and whose availability to us, if we are secular might come as a complete surprise.”
More with Tom Krattenmaker
Posts and articles —
Real men get help when it’s needed–as it so often is Recent blog post Christmas is a Time to Celebrate Jesus’s Moral Insights USA Today column White progressives shouldn’t be smug about racism … USA Today column Don’t Domesticate MLK Commentary in Religion News Service
Can You Be Secular and Still Love Jesus? An interview in Psychology Today Reading is FUNdamental An interview on The Brain Candy Podcast Do Religion and Pro Sports Mix? Faith Matters series on NPR
Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! Part 3, coming soon!