Archive for February, 2013

Rare Titanic author Julie Williams ponders sailing Clive Palmer’s Titanic II

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

A tempting vacation or tempting fate? That’s the debate about Australian billionaire Clive Palmer’s plans to build a new Titanic, replicating the original, to sail in 2016.

USA Today spoke about the new Titanic with Julie Williams, author of A Rare Titanic Family, which chronicles the experiences of her uncle and his family on the doomed ship. Williams’s uncle Albert Caldwell, his wife Sylvia, and their ten-month-old son Alden were in the minority of families to survive the sinking of the Titanic with all family members intact.

Williams believed Caldwell would have approved of the Titanic II.

“He would have loved to have seen it,” Williams told USA Today for their article “Billionaire unveils new ‘Titanic II’ cruise ship design.” “He would have found a new ship intriguing. He always wanted to see the Titanic again.”

Read more about the Caldwells’ experience on the Titanic in A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival, as well as in the ebook Women of the Titanic Disaster, a first-hand account of the sinking of the Titanic by Sylvia Caldwell.

Remembering former UA law school dean Daniel Meador

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

Daniel Meador, former dean of the University of Alabama Law School and author most recently of The Transformative Years of the University of Alabama Law School: 1966-1970, died February 9 at age 86.

In Transformative Years, Meador described his work to reform the University of Alabama law school, raising school standards, increasing student diversity, and creating new fundraising opportunities for the school. Meador left after four years due to disagreements with the administration, but Meador is widely credited with the school’s turnaround.

According to an obituary, Meador was born in Selma, Alabama, and attended the Citadel, Auburn University, the UA law school, and Harvard. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea, Meador clerked for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. He taught at the University of Virginia before his tenure at UA, and afterward until his retirement.

Meador was also an Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department from 1977-1979, and wrote nine law books and three novels.

In a profile of Meador for Alabama Lawyer magazine, UA alumnus Robert Potts wrote that “those of us who were fortunate enough to study at [Meador’s] feet and to be imbued with his grand vision for the law school, lawyer-leaders and the legal profession, have profited immensely for his having passed our way.”

Daniel Meador’s Transformative Years of the University of Alabama Law School is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.

Robert Norrell’s Eden Rise offers real picture of 1960s civil rights struggle

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Brian Seidman

“The way we have written and talked about the Black Belt in Alabama in 1965 has been subject to some caricature,” author Robert Norrell told WBHM’s Tapestry‘s Greg Bass, talking about Norrell’s new novel Eden Rise, “and there was an opportunity [in Eden Rise] to make a much more textured exploration of what actually happened at that time.”

Norrell is a professor and long-time civil rights scholar, winning the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1986 for his book Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee. In Eden Rise, progressive white college student Tom McKee returns home with a couple of black friends. They’re mistaken for Freedom Riders and fired upon, but when Tom fires back, he becomes the one facing charges. Eden Rise is his first work of fiction, based in part on Norrell’s own home town of Hazel Green in Alabama’s Black Belt.

“It does not read like a first novel, however,” writes Don McKinney in a review in the Island Packet. “Norrell is not only a historian, but a gifted storyteller, and he does an excellent job of bringing a large and diverse cast of characters to life. He has been compared with both Harper Lee and John Grisham, which is pretty impressive company, and he has a keen eye for the details of the places he writes about.”

StarNews‘s Ben Steelman praises [Eden Rise] also for the female characters that Norrell creates. As Tom’s father turns away from him, “Tom finds redemption … through what might be called the feminine principle. His mother, his sister Cathy and his formidable Irish-American grandmother, Bebe, show him the angels of their better natures and point toward a possible future that’s kinder and gentler,” Steelman writes. “And while Eden Rise tells a darker, more twisted tale than To Kill a Mockingbird — courthouse veteran Joe Black Pell pulls some tricks, in Tom’s defense, to which Atticus Finch would never stoop — Tom, through the women of his family, finds grounds for hope and faith.”

The Montgomery Advertiser‘s Mollie Waters also called Bebe a “standout” character, along with Marvin, a black bodyguard from the North who’s called to protect Tom from the burgeoning supremacist unrest around his trial. The Tuscaloosa News‘s Don Noble also enjoyed Marvin, whom Noble described as “a tough customer who … carries at all times a switchblade and a pistol. He is hip, strong, cool, listens only to R&B and soul music, and often seems bemused by the rurality around him. … The fight scenes in which Marvin protects Tom are beautifully done and would be worthy of a Robert Parker, whose fans will think of Spenser’s sidekick Hawk. In fact, Marvin eventually buys a BMW.”

Noble continues that “Norrell has generated an interesting cast, male and female, black and white, through all social classes and three generations. A debut novel, Eden Rise is a genuine success.”

Read more about Eden Rise from the Island Packet, StarNews, Montgomery Advertiser, and Tuscaloosa News, and listen to Greg Bass speak with Robert Norrell from WBHM’s Tapestry.

Eden Rise is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.