Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

donnaseamanbydavidsiegfried-1Call it the case of the disappearing sculpture for that’s what started Donna Seaman on her quest to chronicle the lives and works of the seven female artists featured in her just released book, Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists
(Bloomsbury 2017; $35).

“I remember going to the Chicago Art Institute and seeing this large sculpture they had at the end of the corridor,” says Seaman who grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York but not lives in Chicago. “But then she disappeared.”

The sculpture was by Louise Nevelson, who at one time had quite a following in the U.S., but like the six other 20th century females artists featured in Seaman’s book are almost forgotten despite their talent.

Intriguingly, though I had heard of Nevelson, I didn’t recognize any of the other names when I first started reading Seaman’s fascinating book. But reading about Gertrude Abercrombie and seeing her strikingly haunted paintings, I realized my mother had one in her study. But though I loved that painting, I only remembered the male artists whose works hung in our home such as Chagall’s “The Rabbi of Vitebsk” and Winslow Homer’s “The Gulf Steam” (all prints I assure you) and not this one? Was it a male thing?

Could be says Seaman, one of Chicago’s best known book critics and editor of adult books at Booklist, a book-review (and now online) magazine that’s been published by the American Library Association for more than 100 years.

“It’s about who’s writing history,” she says. “Women weren’t written about in a critically relevant way. Newspapers were interested but not the critics. And so these women disappeared.”

While doing her extensive research (Seaman acknowledges her obsessiveness) she asked museum curators to bring out the works of Lois Mailou Jones that had been tucked away in storage for who knows how long.

“They hadn’t seen them before,” she recalls. “And they kept saying these are wonderful.”identityunknown_hc_cat-1

Though Seaman chose most of the artists she highlighted—Joan Brown, Leonore Tawney and Ree Morton–because she liked their work, her essay on Christina Ramberg was much more personal.

“I knew Christina,” Seaman says. “She died very young. The moment she became ill, we knew she wasn’t going to be around very long and I knew someday I would write about her.”

With a Master’s degree in English from DePaul University, one might expect Seaman to be more focused on lost women writers, but her mother was a visual artist (in fact Seaman is traveling to Vassar College last this spring where her mother has a showing of her work) and at one time, she considered becoming an artist as well.

Earning her BSA at Kansas City Art Institute where she was a sculptor major, Seaman says she was only one in her class who loved her liberal arts classes.

“I loved libraries and I have a passion for reading,” she says. “Despite getting into shows and selling my works, I realized that my stronger skills were in editing and writing.”

This skill subset—art and writing—is perfect for giving these artists their identities back.

Ifyougo:

What: Donna Seaman Book Launch Party for Identity Unknown.

When: Wednesday, March 1 @ 7 p.m.

Where: Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark, Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: 773-769-9299; Donna Seaman has several other Chicago events coming up. To learn more, visit donnaseaman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health & Happiness

Finding a sense of peace and contentment in her life by eating healthier and follow a menu of plant basedblissfulbasil_frontcover of Vegan meals, Ashley Melillo began blogging while earning her graduate degree in school psychology.

Eating whole food helped Melillo deal with the anxiety and stress of her life. And she shares her food philosophy and the recipes she’s created not only on her blog, Blissful Basil, but also in her new cookbook, Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health & Happiness (BenBella 2016; $21.95).

It’s not easy, says Melillo who also earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
.

“There are no quick fixes,” she says about incorporating both physical exercise and a wide variety of plant-based foods into our diet.

Indeed, one wholesome smoothie such as her Energizing Carrot Cake Smoothie, Get Glowing Strawberry Mango Chia Pudding or her Cheesy Herb or the Sun-Dried Tomato Good Morning Biscuits, won’t turn our lives upside down health-wise. But it’s all a step in the right direction to achieving physical, mental and emotional well-being.

“I think it’s tempting for many of us to want to think otherwise but it’s necessary to build up good habits,” she says. “It’s a matter of making small but good choices every day. It’s a way to taking care of all aspects of your health—cognitive and physical.”

Of course, as a psychologist, Melillo recognizes that it’s most difficult to make these changes at those times in our lives when we most need to do so.

“It’s when some of these emotions are most at their peak and when you feel almost too overwhelmed to try taking the steps to move forward, that’s when it’s the hardest,” she says. “But it’s the hardest things that push up forward and end up being the best things for us. But it’s important to make ourselves do so–to start chipping away at our anxiety or stress or depression. By taking that one step, oftenswift-sweet-potato-coconut-curry-srgb we can go on and take another and another and ultimately alleviate some of those overwhelming feelings.”

For Melillo, sticking with a whole foods plant-based diet doesn’t mean not allowing herself a little flexibility. But there are also other fixes too. Want something sweet? Try a vegan dessert such as her Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars, Enlivening Lemon Bars, Peanut Butter Cookies and Cosmically Fudgy Cacao Tahini Brownies. Hankering for a pizza? Melillo has a variety
of pizzas such as her White Pizza with Garlic Herb Oil, Mozzarella and Puffy Potato Crust.

“I think it’s important to have an element of self-compassion and understanding,” she says. “If you know you’re craving something that’s maybe not the thing that makes you feel greatest, but it just is what you’re feeling that you want to eat in that moment so like a vegan cookie or more processed vegan pizza something like that.”

Realizing that many people aren’t ready to go totally plant-based or Vegan or know much about, Melillo offers a glossary of terms, recipes for pantry items to keep on hand and helpful symbols—colored circle noting whether recipes are free of gluten, grain, soy, nut, oil, refined sugar and if they’re raw.

Melillo asked meat lovers to taste test the recipes in her book because she wanted them to be appealing not only for those already committed to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle but to all those who pick up her cookbook or read her blog.

“I really want everyone to love the recipes in this book,” she says.

Ifyougo:

What: Ashley Melillo talk and book signing

When: Thursday, February 16, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com

 

 

The Restoration of the Calumet Region by Kenneth Schoon

In a time when so many issues seem insurmountable, Dr. Kenneth Schoon, professor emeritus of science education at Indiana University Northwest, has written a book about how community activists, government entities and corporations have all workedshifting-sands-book-cover-lowres together to turn around the once vastly polluted lands and waters of Northwest Indiana.

“It’s nothing short of miraculous,” says Dr. Kenneth Schoon, author of the recently released Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Region (Quarry Press 2016; $30).

Schoon, winner of the 2016 Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian Award, was asked by Lee Botts, founder of the Great Lakes Alliance and founding board member and president emeritus of the Dunes Learning Center, to write the companion piece to the 2016 Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Award nominated documentary film “Shifting Sands on the Path to Sustainability.”  Botts, along with Tom Desch, Rana Segal and Pat Wisniewski produced the film for which they were nominated as finalists for the Society of Innovators.

“One of the things Lee discovered when she was working on the documentary was that a lot of people in this area who live here still think of this as still dirty as it was in the 1960s,” says Schoon, whose other books about the Region include Dreams of Duneland: A Pictorial History of the Indiana Dunes Region, Calumet Beginnings: Ancient Shorelines and Settlements at the South End of Lake Michigan and City Trees. “She knows that I use the standards of the academic but I write it for the general public and we thought this was an important story to get out.”

Schoon, who grew up in Gary and taught in the East Chicago Public Schools for over 20 years before earning his doctorate and teaching at Indiana University Northwest, put aside his other projects including a book on the Swedish settlements in Northwest Indiana, to begin his intensive research.

“At one time the Grand Calumet was the dirtiest river in the country,” he says. “The book shows how Northwest Indiana contributed to global clean-up. This was in part due to astronaut Frank Borman.”

In an interesting aside, Schoon says that at one time there was a Borman Avenue in Gary named after Frank’s grandfather.

“But when Gary annexed Tolleston about the same time they annexed Miller Beach, they changed the names of the streets which were named after early settlers to numbers,” he says. “But years later, they named the expressway after Borman’s grandson.”

Borman was the Commander of Apollo 8, the first manned voyage to orbit the moon, and both he and his crew took photos of the earth as seen from space.

“The photograph helped people appreciate how just self-contained our planet is, and its publication has been described, perhaps overenthusiastically, as the beginning of the environmental movement,” writes Schoon.

“Another important person from Northwest Indiana was Lynton Keith Caldwell who was a school teacher in Hammond and then got an advanced degree and became a professor at Indiana University East Chicago and then Bloomington,” says Schoon. “He’s often called the father of the environment impact statement—the National Environmental Policy Act which was passed by Congress in 1969 and required research before doing a project.”

The earth was so dirty back then, says Schoon, people realized a change needed to be made and fast. And businesskjs-closeupes once seen as adversarial to environmental became partners in cleaning up our section of the planet.

“Corporations like US Steel and ArcelorMittal, NIPSCO and BP work with environmentalist now, they all have environmentalists on their staff,” says Schoon. “The business environment has changed so much in this regard over the last 30 and 35 years. Business executives support the parks—the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore and the Indiana Dunes State Park. They want clean air for their children and great places to live.”

There’s still more work to be done such as the lead clean up in East Chicago. And in ironic twist of good intentions, at one time sewage was dumped into waterways because people believed that industrial waste diluted the human waste.

“The water still flows over the bottom of these rivers where these pollutants from a hundred years ago have settled, it’s flowing over this horrible stuff,” says Schoon. “Parts of the Grand Calumet have not been dredged yet. Accidents can still happen and pollutants can be tossed into the air and river accidentally. We still need to measure air and water quality and respond to it quickly. But it’s so much better than it used to be.”

According to Schoon, a huge amount of restoration is going on today in Northwest Indiana, not  just by the government but by non-profits like Save the Dunes, the Izaak Walton League, which founded in 1922, is one of the nation’s oldest conservation organizations and the Shirley Heinz Land Trust which has restored more than 2000 acres throughout Northwest Indiana.

“There is reason to celebrate,” he says.

Ifyougo:

What: Ken Schoon has several program and book signings scheduled.
February 23 at 7 p.m. Program and book signing for Highland Historical Society, Lincoln Center, Room 116-118, 2450 Lincoln St., Highland, IN. facebook.com/Highland-IN-Historical-Society

Munster resident Kimberly Kay Day is a wildlife advocate.

 

“This may be the last chance we have to save the elephants,” says Kimberly Kay Day, a wildlife advocate who lives in Munster and is author of The Journey of Timbo: The Indomitable Elephant, which she wrote as a way to raise money for organizations actively working to protect wildlife.kimberly-day

Setting a goal of reaching one million people, Day says that part of the proceeds will go to those organizations trying to save the elephants.

Sending copies of her book out to many who are involved in wildlife preservation, Day received an email from Virginia McKenna, who with her husband Bill Travers, founded the Born Free Foundation and starred in the movie, Born Free. Their son, Will Travers OBE, is currently the charity’s president.

“This is an unusual book,” McKenna writes.  “It combines acknowledgments to people who have, in different ways, contributed to the fragile survival of elephants, and alerted the world to their plight. And then the author draws us into the potential tragedy of their disappearance from the wild, through her own anguish at what is happening to this most extraordinary and inspirational of creatures.”

McKenna describes the book as a story for young and old.

“The tale of Timbo and Balbazar, the elephant spirit, leads us back to an ancient past and on to safety from an uncertain present,” continues McKenna in her email. “If the ivory gleam one day disappears from Africa, it will be a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. Kimberley Kay Day understands that well and tries, through this brave little tale to make sure that we understand it too. The only creature that should carry ivory is the elephant.”

Day’s book is a collage of poems and essays she’s written in order to create awareness about the future of both the Asian and African Elephants. Included are photos and her short children’s story about Timbo, who at the time of his death at age 48, was the largest and oldest African bull elephant in the U.S. Besides McKenna and the Born Free Foundation, the book also honors Daphne Sheldrick of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and actress Tippi Hedren of the Shambala Preserve. Also lauded is the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), a joint initiative created by the Wildlife Conservation Network and Save the Elephants which recently received a $1 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The grant provides funds for on-the-ground global anti-poaching, anti-trafficking and ivory demand reduction actions.

“Elephant poaching is a brutal crisis, with more than 30,000 elephants killed last year alone,” said Le
onardo DiCaprio in making the donation. “The decimation of these animals is something we have the power to stop, and the Elephant Crisis Fund is a crucial part of the solution. I am honored to support them and recognize Dr. Douglas-Hamilton for his lifelong commitment to protecting this species.”

An internet marketer besides author of several books, Day was born in Madisonville, Kentucky before moving to Gary in the 1960s when her father worked at U.S. Steel. She graduated from Morton High School.

“I’ve always loved elephants,” says Day, who received The International Poetry Society Award in Washington, DC., noting that she wants to make a difference in the world. “I get emotional thinking about how little time we have to save them.”

Her book is available through such online book sellers as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

 

Author Peter Cozzens Discusses The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West

For most cozzens_jacketof us who learned about the Wild West from movies, novels and TV shows both old and new, we’ve seen the concept of Native Americans go from persecutors to persecuted. But neither reality is true says Peter Cozzens, author of 16 books on the American Civil War and the Indian Wars that followed. Indeed, many senior army officers were sympathetic to the Indians and advocates of their rights says Cozzens in his latest book, “The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West” (Knopf 2016; $35).

“Another myth is that the government was exterminationist—cultural extermination, yes, but the government never contemplated the physical eradication of the Indians in the west,” says Cozzens who will be signing copies of his book on both Saturday and Monday in Chicago. “The War Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were constantly at odds over Indian policy with the military often more humane and restrained in their treatment.”

The third myth, according to Cozzens, is that the Indians stood united in opposition to white encroachment on their lands. Instead, in ways that helped doom their way of live, tribes continued to fight amongst each other at the same time they tried to stave off the encroachment of their lands.”

Cozzens, who retired from the American Foreign Service, is an avid researcher into the history of a time in our country so few of us really understand. It’s a very complicated period where many fascinating characters stand out including President Ulysses Grant, George Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Red Cloud and General William Tecumseh Sherman. He soughtcozzens_author-photo out many Indian sources, weaving their information with American history in order to balance each one.

Spending so much time immersed in this time and place, Cozzens says that when he went to tribal lands in the West, places that haven’t changed much over the last century, he can feel what it must have been like for both the Indians and the military all those years ago.
Ifyougo:

What: Peter Cozzens book signings and talks at two Chicago venues.

When & Where: Saturday, October 29 at Noon. Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 824 W. Superior St., Suite 100, Chicago, IL and Monday, October 31 at 6pm at the Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (lower level), 400 South State St., Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

Books & Brunch with Molly Yeh at the Chicago City Winery

mollyontherangeA graduate of Julliard, Molly Yeh was a percussionist as well as a food blogger living in New York who fell in love with trombonist. But he also happened to be a 5th generation farmer and before long, in kind of a Green Acres sort of way, they packed up and headed to his family farm in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Now Yeh spends her days baking, cooking, tending chickens and blogging about it all on my name is yeh, named Saveur’s 2015 Blog of the Year and Yahoo’s 2014 Blog of the Year.

In her just released first book, Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm (Oct 4, 2016; Rodale Books) Yeh shares stories about her life as a modern day Pioneer Woman along with recipes inspired by her Chinese and Jewish heritage, suburban 90’s upbringing, her worldwide travels and her new Midwestern farm life.  We learn about how she goes about getting acclimated to her new life – from learning intricate family recipes (she finally got the hang of lefse), gaining appreciation for Midwestern specialties (like rhubarb and venison), cooking for the Ladies of Grand Forks Brunch Club, preparing the perfect farm lunch during harvest season, and becoming a cake genius with the beautiful dreamy cakes made famous on her Instagram.

Her book is divided into four parts including Breakfast and Brunch, Mains, Celebrations, and Desserts where Molly weaves in recipes that represent and are inspired by distinct points in her life, including: +Her childhood in the suburbs of Chicago where she essentially existed on Lunchables, Handi-Snacks, and mac n cheese, including Mum’s Matzo Brei, Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick, Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese, and Lindsay Lohan Oreos

Yeh will be in Chicago for Books & Brunch with Molly Yeh (Includes admission + Two Tasties + copy of the book) on 10/16 Sunday, October 16, 11 am doors open/ 1:00 pm start at City Winery.

HOME by Harlan Coben

Patrick and Rhys, two young boys from wealthy families went missing ten years before the night that Win, a relative of Rhys who prides himself on keeping his emotions under control but has no trouble with violence when provoked, spots Patrick in near the tracks at Kings Crossing, a seedy area where prostitution and drugs are rampant.harlan-author-photo-final_photo-credit-claudio-marinesco

Unsure of how to approach Patrick after all these years and wondering if he does so, whether Rhys will be lost forever, Win finds that the decision is already made when three dangerous looking men approach the young man. Wanting to save Patrick, he confronts the men and, though he subdues all three, Patrick disappears again.

“I had blown it,” Win tells himself, knowing that after all his years of fruitlessly searching, if the one lead that came his way was lost, he wouldn’t be able to help the boys’ parents who were trapped in a limbo of despair, crippling anxiety and unending heartbreak.

And so beings Home (Dutton 2016; $28), the latest mystery by author Harlan Coben, who has had ninehome consecutive #1 New York Times best sellers, reintroduces us to one of his most popular heroes, sports agent Myron Bolitar as he and Win try to find the boys and reunite them with their grieving parents.

Asked where he gets his ideas, Coben, whose books have sold 70 million copies around the world, says that anything can stimulate an idea.

“The hard part is knowing which ideas will work and being able to develop that idea into a workable story,” he says. “An idea is not a plot and it’s not a novel. Turning it into a story is where the real work comes in.”

Ifyougo:

What: Meet Harlan Coben

When & Where: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 21, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago; 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 21, Skokie Library, 5215 Oakton St., Skokie.

FYI: (847) 446-8880; thebookstall.com

Nathan Hill: Author of The Nix

the-nix600 pages and eight years ago, Nathan Hill started writing a short story.

“I guess I gave myself permission to keep going,” says Hill, about The Nix (Knopf 2016; $27.95), his recently published—to rave reviews—novel that covers a lengthy time period and numerous geographic locations as he tells the story of Sam Andresen-Anderson, a disgruntled professor at a small college near Chicago. Unable to muster the energy to complete a book for which he was paid a large advance and fearing the publisher will sue to get the money back (it’s already been spent), he is also grappling with a plagiarizing student who might also sue him and pining for his childhood love. What’s a guyhill_credit-to-michael-lionstar_fotor to do? For Sam, it’s spending too many hours playing the World of Elfscape, a World of Warcraft-like computer game.

But Sam sees salvation when his mother, who long ago abandoned him, is caught on video throwing rocks at a politician. The video goes viral and Sam convinces his publisher to change out his unwritten novel for a bio of his mother. It’s also a way to learn who she really is—a radical feminist as the media portrays her or the girl who married her high school sweetheart.

A nix, in Norwegian mythology, is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse and steals children away. In Hill’s book, it’s anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.

“Hill has so much talent to burn that he can pull off just about any style, imagine himself into any person and convincingly portray any place or time,” writes the New York Times in a review. “The Nix is hugely entertaining and unfailingly smart, and the author seems incapable of writing a pedestrian sentence or spinning a boring story.”

Hill says the reason he took so long to finish the book is that he didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t know what the ending would be.

“I just lived with these characters for a very, very long time and the more I wrote, the cleared their story became,” says Hill, who grew up in Streamwood, teaches at a college in Florida and now spends summers in Chicago where his wife, a classical musician, plays for the Grand Park Symphony.

“One of the nice things about writing this book besides getting to know the characters so well, was spending long, long afternoons in the Chicago History Museum wearing white gloves and looking at old photos,” says Hill who is 50 pages into his next novel—a plus for those who love The Nix as it means they might not have to wait eight years to see it on the bookshelf.

Ifyougo:

What: Nathan Hill Book signing
When: September 15 at 7pm

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (773) 293-2665; words@bookcellarinc.com

 

 

 

YA SENSATION SABAA TAHIR TO VISIT CHICAGO ON SEPTEMBER 14th

A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir’s second Young Adult novel continues the saga of Elias and Laia as they journey north through the treacherous Martian Empire in their quest to save Laia’s brother from prison. Trying to elude the Empire’s Commandant Helen, their once great friend who is now following orders from the Emperor to destroy them, all three must deal with both their pasts as well as the present as they fight to stay alive.

a-torchReviewers of Tahir’s first book in the series, An Ember in Ashes, compared it to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones for its intensity, suspense and her ability to create a realistic fantasy world.

“The book took on a life of its own,” says Tahir, describing the sequel as much more difficult to write. “I feel sometimes like I’m just writing their stories, that I’m a scribe. It’s funny that way. It might be useful for my plot if I could get control of them, if I could get them to follow me.”

So immersed does Tahir get in her writing that her friends and family describe her as impounnamedssible.

“I forget that I’m supposed to do things with friends, go to appointments, do things that other people are doing,” she says.

Her background in journalism—she was a night editor for the Wall Street Journal and her upbringing in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel where she avidly read her brother’s comic book collection as well as any Science Fiction novels she could get a hold of, helped prepare her for
deft, fast moving story telling.

Already at work on her third book of the series, Tahir says she hopes readers find her book compelling and enjoyable.

“I would also love that they read it and see that hope is more powerful than fear,” she says. “I think we can find a reason to hope, even in the darkest times.”

Ifyougo:

What: Talk and book signing

When: September 14, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Presentation and Book Signing at Anderson’s Bookshop

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop,  5112 Main St, Downers Grove, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (630) 963-2665

 

 

 

American Heiress By Jeffrey Toobin

9780385536714On February 4, 1974, Patricia Hearst was engaged and living with a man who had previously been her high school teacher. Though the times reflected social change and a rethinking of traditional gender roles, for Hearst, an heiress to the Hearst fortune and Steven Weed life was humdrum and she felt stifled, emotionally unfulfilled and depressed.

And then the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) broke into the apartment, beat up Weed, shot at—and fortunately missed—their neighbors, and finally managed to push Hearst into the trunk of a stolen car. It was an act that shocked and enthralled the country as the SLA made demands for free food for poor people and Randy and CathlerineToobin, Jeffrey Hearst went on television as they tried desperately to free their daughter.

But in an even more bizarre twist, within months of her kidnapping, Hearst declared herself a member of the SLA and willing participated in a bank robbery and shoot out.

“One of the things that impressed me is that Patty was a sheltered woman who learned to handle a machine gun, that there was a part of her that enjoyed this complete departure from her former life,” says Jeffrey Toobin, an attorney and the author of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Doubleday 2016; $289.95) a mesmerizing book about a tumultuous time in our nation’s history. “The SLA had no idea that Patti Hearst was at this cross point in her life—she wanted to get away from her boyfriend and get away from her parents.”

Toobin’s take on Hearst is non-judgmental but he sums up her strengths such as staying calm under horrific conditions as well as her ability to understand the psychology of her captors and bond with them and concludes that in the end she was not a victim.

“The clearest example that she was a voluntary member of the SLA is that at Mel’s, she could have drove away, walked away, but instead she chose to shoot a machine gun into a crowded street to free them,” says Toobin referring to the episode where Bill and Emily Harris were caught shoplifting and were trying to flee a sporting goods store.

There were other times when Heart could have sought help—when she was by herself and being treated for poison oak at a hospital and when she was driving across country with author Jack Scott and his parents who tried to convince Hearst to turn herself in.

“When she was arrested she put her occupation as urban guerilla,” continues Toobin

Though the country was rife with revolutionary groups at the time (bombings were almost an everyday occurrence in San Francisco) like the Weatherman Underground and the Black Panthers, they thought the SLA were insane.

“And that’s saying something,” says Toobin.

So how did the 1960s, a decade of peace and light, turn into the chaotic 70s? Toobin thinks it all began to change when the Vietnam draft ended.

“Many of the idealists drifted away but the embittered remained,” he says.

As for the SLA, who believed that people in prison were all political prisoners and noble, Toobin says that after senselessly murdering an African American superintendent of schools, there was nothing left the to run for their lives. “They never thought through what their ultimate goal was.”

Hearst was ultimately captured and convicted, her lawyer F. Lee Bailey trying to sell the rights to his story while the trial was still going on (Toobin notes that almost everyone involved was trying to snag a book contract), but she never served her full sentence.

“I don’t know what the right sentence was,” he says when asked.  “But I do know that she got an extraordinarily good deal. She is the only person in American history who got a commutation for Jimmy Carter and a pardon from Bill Clinton.”

Ifyougo:

What: Bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin in conversation with former federal prosecutor, Dan Purdom.

When: Monday, August 15 at 7 p.m.

Where: Meiley-Swallow Hal-North Central College, 31 S. Ellsworth  St., Naperville, IL

Cost: $32

FYI: (630) 355-2665