Off the Shelf: Spring 2005
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: May 2, 2005

Good Soldiers: The History of the 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division

By Richard P. Matthews ’68, MA ’88, 89th Infantry Division Association, 2004.

“American individuality was the greatest contribution that the millions of young men and women brought to the armed forces during World War II,” writes author Richard Matthews. And that individuality shines through in his book written about and for the 353rd Infantry Regiment. Individuals’ written accounts and letters home are interspersed through the story of their training and warfare. Matthews, an amateur historian and life-long resident of Portland, has spent his life in conversation with veterans of World War II and subsequent wars.

Hello Exile

By Lilian Gafni, ’76 PublishAmerica, Baltimore, 2004.

Lilian Gafni worked for the Commission on Soviet Jewry, and during the 1970s corresponded with prisoners of conscience at the height of visa denials for Soviet Jews. From that experience she has written a fascinating fictional account of Klara, a Soviet Jew who is not only denied a visa but sentenced to a slave labor camp in Siberia for four years. She must face backbreaking labor, grueling living conditions, and housing with convicts who threaten to rape her. Klara works hard to survive so she can return to the man she loves in Moscow.

Sailing into the Abyss

By William Benedetto ’77, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, N.Y., 2005.

In 1969, the merchant marine vessel SS Badger State was given the task of transporting bombs from Seattle to Da Nang, Vietnam. The ship never made it and most of the crew died when the bombs on board came loose during a colossal storm, and not only blew a hole in the ship, but destroyed the lifeboat. William Benedetto began researching the Badger State while serving on the Coast Guard’s Marine Investigation Unit. Using eyewitness accounts, official documents, and rarely seen photos, he has written a minute-by-minute narrative of the ship’s last journey.

The Language of Baklava

By Diana Abu-Jaber (English faculty), Pantheon, New York, N.Y., 2005.

Recipes for Tabbouleh—when everything is falling apart—and Baklava—when you need to serenade someone—punctuate each chapter of Diana Abu-Jaber’s humorous memoir. The child of an eccentric family, she weaves their stories around vividly remembered meals in upstate New York and in Jordan, her father’s homeland. Abu-Jaber is also the author of the award-winning novels Arabian Jazz (2001) and Crescent (2004).

When the Thrush Calls

By Rachel O’Neal MSW ’99, Wordscape Publishing, Portland, 2005.

This is the personal story of Rachel O’Neal’s grief and eventual renewal after the death of her young husband, Greg, who died of cancer. Healing ceremonies and nature helped O’Neal find new hope. After Greg’s death, O’Neal earned her master’s degree in social work, and she now works with elderly and disabled people at Clackamas County Social Services.

Shadow Boxers cover imageShadow Boxers

By Jim Lommasson ’75, John Gattuso (editor), Stone Creek Publications, Milford, N.J., May 2005.

Jim Lommasson’s stark and gritty photos of boxing gyms across the country are the soul of the book—the dozen essays by veteran boxing writers are the heart. For the past decade, Lommasson has chronicled the culture of American boxing gyms, starting from his hometown, Portland. His images reveal the pain and sacrifice as well as the triumphs of the men and women who box. The book includes a foreword by former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.

Proven Strategies Professionals Use to Make Their Proposals Work

By Michael Wells (adjunct faculty), PSU Continuing Education Press, 2005.

This is the first in a new Grantwriting Beyond the Basics series from the Continuing Education Press at Portland State. Michael Wells shares his strategies for securing millions of dollars for nonprofit institutions during his 30-year career. He has a unique approach for using a budget to present an organization’s story and need. The next volume in the series, due out in spring 2006, will discuss finances and budget for grant writers.

Reviews are of faculty and alumni books, recordings, and Web publications. To have a work considered for this page, please submit pertinent information to PSU Magazine via email to, or fax to 503-725-4465, or mail to PSU Magazine, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751.