current issue past issues send a letter/news address update advertise about us alumni home

Book Reviews

Bookmark and Share

Mortal Sins
How children's advocates exposed the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

See Mortal Sins at

In 1984, sexually abused children gained a powerful ally when Minnesota lawyer Jeffrey Anderson agreed to represent a former altar boy who had been molested by his parish priest in a steam room at the gym. "Don't tell anybody," the priest had said. "You'll get in trouble and so will I."

Anderson was shocked by what he learned from the case—local bishops had long known of the priest's problems, for example—and went on to represent many other victims. He won tens of millions of dollars for the victims and became the "main antagonist" of the Catholic Church, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D'Antonio '77 puts it in Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal (St. Martin's/Dunne's, 2013).

Mortal Sins

In this, his 14th book, D'Antonio shows how Anderson and others broke open the clergy sex-abuse scandal between the mid-1980s and the months just before the recent election of Pope Francis. Mortal Sins is similar in both approach and emotional impact to A Civil Action by Jonathan Hart, the story of Woburn, Mass., parents who suspected that contaminated drinking water was killing their children. D'Antonio filters a tragedy through the lives of people who helped to expose it and who include, besides Anderson, priest Thomas Doyle and victims' advocate Barbara Blaine. His stories of the opposing priests, bishops, and cardinals coalesce into a chilling portrait of an ecclesiastical bureaucracy more interested in preventing scandal than protecting children.

D'Antonio shows how abusers were sent back into parishes and how priests hid, denied, or rationalized their actions—sometimes claiming they were providing "sex education." He describes betrayals of trust so pervasive that the book might have devolved into a screed. Instead, he calmly relates the facts: More than 6,000 U.S. priests have been accused of abuse; the church has paid $3 billion to victims—the list goes on. Mortal Sins doesn't mention Pope Francis, but if the new pontiff wants to understand the dimensions of the scandal he has inherited, he could hardly read a better book than this one. ~

A high school athlete faces her toughest opponents off the field.

See Smashed at

Good novels about girls' sports are rare. Good novels about girls' sports in New England are even rarer. And good novels about girls' sports with a heroine who gets recruited by UNH?

Lisa Luedeke '86, '96G may have the field to herself in Smashed (Simon & Schuster/McElderry, 2012)—and she explores the terrain with aplomb in her first book, a young-adult novel about a high school field hockey star whose stick-wielding prowess helps to mask a loneliness she hides from the residents of her small town in western Maine.


High school senior Katie Martin seems certain to win an athletic scholarship until her reckless drinking and partying upend her life. It isn't giving away too much to say that she passes up the chance to attend UNH—she chooses the University of Maine—because the suspense here involves more complex questions than "Wildcats or Bears?"

Katie is adrift. Her father has abandoned the family, her mother focuses only on her work and her boyfriend, and her younger brother can't substitute for a parent. Having lost her emotional anchors, Katie begins to violate her coach's rule: "If you drink, you don't play." Getting "smashed" becomes a habit. "Nothing calmed me like a drink," she reflects. "Beer, vodka, wine ... it all did the same thing." The stakes escalate when Katie starts going out with a sexually predatory bully who encourages her drinking for reasons of his own.

A generation ago, this story might have had an unnaturally rosy ending. But Smashed belongs to a new breed of young-adult novels—the fastest-growing genre in children's literature—that don't sugarcoat the risks of unsafe behavior. Katie pays a devastating price for her choices, but one that Luedeke, a former high school teacher, handles with a well-honed sensitivity to the pressures that can send teenagers off course. Smashed reaffirms the message that child-rearing experts urge parents to send: Actions have consequences. Or, as Katie discovers, you can't avoid reality with drinking and drugs—you have to deal with "life on life's terms." ~

Of Note:

book cover The Turner Erotica: A Biographical Novel
See at

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), the great British landscape painter and one of the most revolutionary influences on Western art since the eighteenth century, left upon his death a rich and varied legacy to Britain's National Gallery. Among his work were more than 19,000 sketch studies that contained a considerable body of erotica. When John Ruskin, Turner's greatest supporter at the time, discovered the erotic works, he—with the help of National Gallery Keeper Ralph Wornum—burned most of the material they found offensive. But through betrayal and theft, some of the erotica has escaped the flames...

book cover Frontier Naturalist: Jean Louis Berlanier and the Exploration of Northern Mexico andTexas
See at

This is a true story of discovery and discoverers in what was the northern frontier region of Mexico in the years before the Mexican War. In 1826, the region was claimed by both Mexico and the United States. Neither country knew much about the lands crossed by such rivers as the Guadalupe, Brazos, Nueces, Trinity, and Rio Grande. Jean Louis Berlandier, a French naturalist, was part of a team sent out by the Mexican Boundary Commission to explore the area. His role was to collect specimens of flora and fauna and to record detailed observations of the landscapes and peoples through which the exploring party traveled. His observations were the first compendium of scientific observations of the region to be collected and eventually published.

book cover Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male
See at

In his groundbreaking new book, noted expert on teenage and adult masculine behavior Andrew Smiler debunks the myth that teenage boys and young men are barely able to control their sex drives, which may lead to destructive hyper-sexuality, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Smiler helps us recognize that the majority of boys and men do not fit this stereotype and that boys sexual development is multi-faceted. He also shows how this shift in attitude could help create young men who are more mature, and have better relationships with partners and friends.

Also of Note:

book cover A Family's Loss
See at

As the oldest of four children who come of age in the Sixties, Virgil believes he has grown up in a normal, healthy American family. When tragedy strikes in the Seventies, however, he is forced to question everything he has ever assumed about his family, and to examine the past for answers. This book is for anyone who has ever wondered about the largely hidden undercurrents of family. In prose that is both riveting and unsparing, it explores the way relationships within a family are often complex and evolving, and can exist largely beyond our conscious understanding. It challenges us to consider how much of our past is fixed reality, how much is fictional mythology, and how much is some unknowable combination of both.

book cover A Greek Journey with Fork and Pen: Two Sisters Find Their Roots
See at

Part recipe collection, travel log and memoir this charming read recounts the adventures of Georgia and Elizabeth and their husbands as they tour the land of their immigrant forebearers, eating and gathering recipes and stories as they go. The joy of the journey-the beauty of the land, its people and its food-fills every page, making this an enticing book for anyone interested in travel and pleasures of the table.

book cover Georgia, A New York Story
See at

Georgia, A New York Story is a sprawling saga of Georgia Shultze-Hogan, an active Drama Therapy teacher and three generations of family, friends, and students who live at, and visit her home. The main thrust of this novel is the intersection of her characters as they struggle to find meaning and fulfillment amidst the vast and sometimes unforgiving island of Manhattan. Each character's tale is distinct: the romanic internet correspondence that leads to an astounding first meeting, a mousey teenager who escapes a life of sexual abuse, and the small wayward boy who finds his true home at Georgia's. And more. How do they survive? With Georgia's love and support and the example of her own journey through life.

book cover The Logician and the Engineer
See at

Presenting the dual biographies of Boole and Shannon, Nahin examines the history of Boole's innovative ideas, and considers how they led to Shannon's groundbreaking work on electrical relay circuits and information theory. Nahin presents logic problems for readers to solve and talks about the contributions of such key players as Georg Cantor, Tibor Rado, and Marvin Minsky—as well as the crucial role of Alan Turing's "Turing machine"—in the development of mathematical logic and data transmission. Nahin takes readers from fundamental concepts to a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of how a modern digital machine is constructed.

book cover Minotour
See at

Six centuries from now, the Sol system is governed by the sole remaining corporation, EarthCorp. In exchange for basic needs, citizens of EarthCorp yield up rights that detract from productivity. Rights such as voting, and free worship. Unrepentant voters, Christians, and other undesirables are incarcerated on Penal Station Minotaur, orbiting Jupiter on the tiny moon Pasiphae. Keeping watch is bald, bearded John MacArthur, King John, the warden of the deep-space penitentiary. Most undesirable is Dr. Mordecai Cadmus, genetic engineer, killer, and would-be killer. Like all inmates on Minotaur, Cadmus is serving a life sentence, at least until Admiral Omar Jackson shows up with an unexpected demand. Along with the beautiful telepath Athena Roga, he wants Cadmus, and won't say why. When Cadmus gets loose on the station, MacArthur is trapped in a deadly confrontation with the most ruthless madman the galaxy has ever known. Old feuds awaken, brittle new alliances emerge, and fundamental philosophies are shaken as the Warden races to save his station and protect humanity from the evil genius of Mordecai Cadmus.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Current issue | Past issues | Current class notes | Class notes archives
Department archives | Send a letter/news | Address updates
Advertise | About UNH Magazine | Alumni home | UNH home

University of New Hampshire Alumni Association
9 Edgewood Road  Durham NH 03824  (603) 862-2040