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Charleston Reading Circle shares book reviews, names new officers

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CHARLESTON — The Charleston Reading Circle recently elected new officers for the 2021-2022 program year.

Christine Merllie-Young will serve as president, Carolyn Stephens as vice president, Mary Jorstad as secretary, and Donna Karbassioon as treasurer. The new program chair of the Executive Committee is Maria Fichter-Wandling.

The Reading Circle has concluded the current year and will resume meeting next fall. Final book reviews were presented by Paula McNitt, Kathy Wright, and Sallie Cougill.

The book selected by Paula McNitt was titled “Working” by Robert Caro, his sixth book. This book focuses on Caro’s experiences researching and writing about Robert Moses and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

His writing illuminates how Moses and LBJ acquired, maintained and used political power, and how their exercise of power changed the lives of millions, for better and for worse. Caro describes how he extensively perused documents and interviewed numerous informants for his biographies. He sought to reveal a deeper understanding of Moses and LBJ, often conflicting with conventional portrayals of the men.

Kathy Wright reviewed “Trevor Noah Born a Crime,” a comedic autobiographical story published in 2016. The book chronicles Trevor Noah’s childhood and young adult life growing up in Africa. Noah’s memories focus heavily on the effects of South Africa apartheid and his experiences as a child of a South African black mother and a white father, which during apartheid, was a crime.

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Noah shares how his mixed race caused him to struggle to fit in with any peer group. He shares many stories, some very humorous, how being considered either too white or too black caused major conflict during his life growing up.

“Walter Reed: Doctor in Uniform” by L.N. Wood was reviewed by Sallie Cougill. This is the compelling story of a heroic and brilliant doctor who saved thousands of lives with his research of yellow fever. America had been plagued with yellow fever from about 1647 until 1902 when Dr. Walter Reed confirmed that the disease was transmitted by the bite of a specific female mosquito.

Born in 1851, Reed was a bright student, admitted to the university at age 16, and after only two years, passed the medical exam. He became an expert in the study of pathology and bacteriology.

This book describes Reed’s years in the Army, his numerous medical positions, his lab research and teaching. It also tells of his married family life, which included an adopted Native American child who had been badly burned and left to die until saved by Reed.

A brilliant modest doctor, Reed was loved and respected by his patients, students and peers. He died at the age of 51 and in 1909 the newly built Army Walter Reed Medical Center was named in his honor.

Using the Zoom format this year, the Reading Circle was able to maintain its historical significance as Charleston’s longest continuously meeting women’s organization. Additional information about the Reading Circle can be obtained from Judy James 217-345-4855.


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