2006.05.18: May 18, 2006: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Publishing: International Herald Tribune: Cameroon RPCV Starling Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Peace Corps Cameroon: The Peace Corps in Cameroon: 2006.05.18: May 18, 2006: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Publishing: International Herald Tribune: Cameroon RPCV Starling Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-240-83.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.240.83) on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 10:02 am: Edit Post

Cameroon RPCV Starling Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian

Cameroon RPCV Starling Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian

He also acquired Sebastian Junger's "Perfect Storm" for only $35,000. The book later became a best seller, and Junger had his pick of publishers willing to pay more than Norton, a company not known for high advances. But he stayed with Lawrence, whom he credits with helping him find a structure for "Storm," which contained multiple stories.

Cameroon RPCV Starling Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian

Publishing: A heartfelt story from industrial age
By Dinitia Smith The New York Times

THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006
Most people in the book world know Starling Lawrence as editor in chief of W.W. Norton & Co., the publishing house. And some know him as a writer of books of his own. But few know that Lawrence is also the great-grandson of Charles Coffin, the first president of General Electric, who made that company into a giant of American industry.

Now Lawrence has wound together strands of his family heritage and his childhood imaginings into a novel, "The Lightning Keeper," published in March by HarperCollins. It is a story about the birth of the industrial age and the role of electricity in its development, in which, of course, General Electric played a major part.

The novel is also about the unsung role of immigrants in creating American industry, both as workers and as inventors of the technology that made it possible. "I hope my great-grandfather won't be unhappy," Lawrence said with a laugh about his depiction of General Electric in the novel.

The Los Angeles Times called "The Lightning Keeper" "a subtle and moving novel, an old-fashioned narrative that addresses modern questions of ethnicity and belonging." It is, the reviewer Mark Essig wrote, "a romance of technology and of the heart."

The novel is partly based on stories Lawrence heard when he spent summers at the estate his family has occupied for nearly a century on Canaan Mountain in northwest Connecticut. The family was once the biggest landowner in the area. As a boy, Lawrence rode his horse through the forests where the charcoal pits were a ghostly reminder of the iron industry that once flourished in the area.

At the edge of the estate was a strange castle, built by Michael Pupin, the immigrant Serb scientist who invented the long-distance relay device, which made possible the widespread use of Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.

Lawrence heard lurid stories about a love affair between Pupin and a woman known locally as the Widow Jenkins, whose house still stands cater- cornered from Pupin's castle. Supposedly, Pupin tunneled under the road to connect their homes and built a love nest for them in the woods, a house that still stands. "For an adolescent with an active imagination," Lawrence said, "it was heaven."

The novel revolves around Toma Pekocevic, a fictional immigrant from Montenegro who is a combination of Pupin and Nikola Tesla, another Balkan scientist and a genius of 20th-century technology who successfully championed alternating current against Thomas Edison's direct current.

Toma falls in love with Harriet Bigelow, the beautiful heiress of a Connecticut iron-making dynasty that has come down in the world. He immigrates to the United States, finds his way to Norfolk and invents a device to help her father's failing enterprise.

But Harriet marries the much older Senator Fowler Truscott, who has bankrolled the business. It is a loveless marriage. Truscott is loosely based on Frederic Walcott, a Republican senator from Connecticut from 1929 to 1935 and a friend of Lawrence's grandfather Starling Childs, whose large, elegant house still stands near Lawrence's.

Toma goes on to create a revolutionary hydroelectric turbine and General Electric tries to appropriate it. A modest, gentlemanly Charles Coffin makes a few brief appearances in the book as "the true face" of American capitalism. (He was also called that in the Almanac of Electrical Engineering in 1926.) But his protégé, Charles Steinmetz, a real General Electric scientist who was famously obsessed with lightning, pursues the use of Toma's invention with ruthless energy.

The book is illustrated with photographs of the old ironworks that processed ore from nearby Salisbury, and of Coffin. In 1892 the electric company he headed merged with Edison General Electric. Coffin, Lawrence's maternal great-grandfather, took over. "Edison went off in a sulk because the company wasn't going to be named after him and he wasn't going to run it," Lawrence said. "So he invented the phonograph."

As a boy, Lawrence followed his father, uncle and siblings to Phillips Exeter Academy, where, he said, "I was a fat introvert." He went to Princeton, another family tradition; after graduating, he served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon.

Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian. He also acquired Sebastian Junger's "Perfect Storm" for only $35,000. The book later became a best seller, and Junger had his pick of publishers willing to pay more than Norton, a company not known for high advances. But he stayed with Lawrence, whom he credits with helping him find a structure for "Storm," which contained multiple stories.

Lawrence began writing fiction in the 1980s, but "the combination of children and the day job kept me from getting very serious about it until the 1990s," he said. In 1996 he published a story collection, "Legacies," and the next year he published a novel, "Montenegro," a fictional re-creation of Pupin's Balkan childhood and youth.

Lawrence said that his family was no longer connected to General Electric.

He admits that writing the novel was an effort to come to terms with the legacy of his great-grandfather and of General Electric, which is today one of the biggest corporations in the world.

"I have nothing but feelings of admiration for my great-grandfather," Lawrence said. "Yet there's something about the magnitude of the enterprise, of GE, that he set in motion, that is disturbing. The triumph of man over nature, which could be symbolized by General Electric, fills me with a sense of trepidation and foreboding. This is my attempt to figure out my formulation of it."


Most people in the book world know Starling Lawrence as editor in chief of W.W. Norton & Co., the publishing house. And some know him as a writer of books of his own. But few know that Lawrence is also the great-grandson of Charles Coffin, the first president of General Electric, who made that company into a giant of American industry.

Now Lawrence has wound together strands of his family heritage and his childhood imaginings into a novel, "The Lightning Keeper," published in March by HarperCollins. It is a story about the birth of the industrial age and the role of electricity in its development, in which, of course, General Electric played a major part.

The novel is also about the unsung role of immigrants in creating American industry, both as workers and as inventors of the technology that made it possible. "I hope my great-grandfather won't be unhappy," Lawrence said with a laugh about his depiction of General Electric in the novel.

The Los Angeles Times called "The Lightning Keeper" "a subtle and moving novel, an old-fashioned narrative that addresses modern questions of ethnicity and belonging." It is, the reviewer Mark Essig wrote, "a romance of technology and of the heart."

The novel is partly based on stories Lawrence heard when he spent summers at the estate his family has occupied for nearly a century on Canaan Mountain in northwest Connecticut. The family was once the biggest landowner in the area. As a boy, Lawrence rode his horse through the forests where the charcoal pits were a ghostly reminder of the iron industry that once flourished in the area.

At the edge of the estate was a strange castle, built by Michael Pupin, the immigrant Serb scientist who invented the long-distance relay device, which made possible the widespread use of Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.

Lawrence heard lurid stories about a love affair between Pupin and a woman known locally as the Widow Jenkins, whose house still stands cater- cornered from Pupin's castle. Supposedly, Pupin tunneled under the road to connect their homes and built a love nest for them in the woods, a house that still stands. "For an adolescent with an active imagination," Lawrence said, "it was heaven."

The novel revolves around Toma Pekocevic, a fictional immigrant from Montenegro who is a combination of Pupin and Nikola Tesla, another Balkan scientist and a genius of 20th-century technology who successfully championed alternating current against Thomas Edison's direct current.

Toma falls in love with Harriet Bigelow, the beautiful heiress of a Connecticut iron-making dynasty that has come down in the world. He immigrates to the United States, finds his way to Norfolk and invents a device to help her father's failing enterprise.

But Harriet marries the much older Senator Fowler Truscott, who has bankrolled the business. It is a loveless marriage. Truscott is loosely based on Frederic Walcott, a Republican senator from Connecticut from 1929 to 1935 and a friend of Lawrence's grandfather Starling Childs, whose large, elegant house still stands near Lawrence's.

Toma goes on to create a revolutionary hydroelectric turbine and General Electric tries to appropriate it. A modest, gentlemanly Charles Coffin makes a few brief appearances in the book as "the true face" of American capitalism. (He was also called that in the Almanac of Electrical Engineering in 1926.) But his protégé, Charles Steinmetz, a real General Electric scientist who was famously obsessed with lightning, pursues the use of Toma's invention with ruthless energy.

The book is illustrated with photographs of the old ironworks that processed ore from nearby Salisbury, and of Coffin. In 1892 the electric company he headed merged with Edison General Electric. Coffin, Lawrence's maternal great-grandfather, took over. "Edison went off in a sulk because the company wasn't going to be named after him and he wasn't going to run it," Lawrence said. "So he invented the phonograph."

As a boy, Lawrence followed his father, uncle and siblings to Phillips Exeter Academy, where, he said, "I was a fat introvert." He went to Princeton, another family tradition; after graduating, he served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon.

Lawrence has been at Norton since 1969 and has edited such best-selling authors as Patrick O'Brian. He also acquired Sebastian Junger's "Perfect Storm" for only $35,000. The book later became a best seller, and Junger had his pick of publishers willing to pay more than Norton, a company not known for high advances. But he stayed with Lawrence, whom he credits with helping him find a structure for "Storm," which contained multiple stories.

Lawrence began writing fiction in the 1980s, but "the combination of children and the day job kept me from getting very serious about it until the 1990s," he said. In 1996 he published a story collection, "Legacies," and the next year he published a novel, "Montenegro," a fictional re-creation of Pupin's Balkan childhood and youth.

Lawrence said that his family was no longer connected to General Electric.

He admits that writing the novel was an effort to come to terms with the legacy of his great-grandfather and of General Electric, which is today one of the biggest corporations in the world.

"I have nothing but feelings of admiration for my great-grandfather," Lawrence said. "Yet there's something about the magnitude of the enterprise, of GE, that he set in motion, that is disturbing. The triumph of man over nature, which could be symbolized by General Electric, fills me with a sense of trepidation and foreboding. This is my attempt to figure out my formulation of it."





When this story was posted in May 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Help Peace Corps get its full Appropriation Date: May 12 2006 No: 892 Help Peace Corps get its full Appropriation
Senators DeWine, Feinstein, Santorum, and Durbin are asking their colleagues to join them in signing a letter to Senate Appropriations leaders to fully fund the President's FY07 request for the International Affairs Budget, including a full appropriation for the Peace Corps. Forty-five Senators have already signed on. Here's how you can help. Please make your call by May 16.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

PC evacuates East Timor, hopes to return Date: May 9 2006 No: 890 PC evacuates East Timor, hopes to return
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that they are monitoring the security situation on a daily basis and that it is the intention of the Peace Corps to return to East Timor if the security situation improves.

First Amendment Watch Date: May 4 2006 No: 883 First Amendment Watch
Maine Web Report hit with Federal Lawsuit
Website wins trademark suit against Jerry Falwell

It's Official: Vasquez nominated to FAO Date: April 25 2006 No: 881 It's Official: Vasquez nominated to FAO
Exactly one week ago we predicted that Director Vasquez would soon be receiving a major ambassadorship. Today the White House confirmed that Vasquez will be the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall.

PCOL Comment: Director Vasquez, let us be the first to thank you for your service to the Peace Corps, congratulate you on your new appointment, and wish you good luck in your future endeavors. Although we have had our differences over the years and we opposed your nomination in 2001, we think you are leaving a solid legacy of accomplishment and have served the Peace Corps well.

Initiatives and Accomplishments: Vasquez's major initiatives and accomplishments since becoming Peace Corps Director include: an agreement with Mexico in 2003 to host volunteers, sending RPCVs to work domestically in Hurricane relief after Katrina, emphasis on recruitment of minorities and of community college graduates, upgrading Peace Corps' infrastructure especially IT upgrades in the online application tracking process and the Volunteer Delivery System, an emphasis on safety and security of volunteers including the creation of a Situation Room at Peace Corps Headquarters, modifying Peace Corps' "Five Year Rule" for employment, and the expansion of the Peace Corps to its highest level in 30 years. He is the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver.

Interview with a Hit Man Date: April 25 2006 No: 880 Interview with a Hit Man
RPCV John Perkins says that for many years he was an "economic hit man" in the world of international finance whose primary job was to convince less developed countries to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects that left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. In this exclusive interview for "Peace Corps Online," Colombia RPCV Joanne Roll, author of Remember with Honor, talks to Perkins about his Peace Corps service, his relation with the NSA, "colonization" in Ecuador, the consequences of his work, why he decided to speak out, and what his hopes are for change.

PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended Date: April 14 2006 No: 872 PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended
Director Vasquez announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Chad on April 14 and that all 29 Peace Corps volunteers have left the country. With a program dating back forty years (See Page 4 of the April 1966 "Peace Corps Volunteer"), RPCVs hope that volunteers can return to Chad as soon as the situation has stabilized. Congratulations to the Peace Corps for handling the suspension quickly and professionally.

Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position on March 2 the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

PC announces new program in Cambodia Date: March 29 2006 No: 849 PC announces new program in Cambodia
Director Vasquez and Cambodia's Deputy Chief of Mission Meng Eang Nay announced a historic new partnership between the Peace Corps and the Kingdom of Cambodia that will bring volunteers to this Southeast Asian country for the first time. Under King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia has welcomed new partnerships with the U.S. government and other U.S. organizations.

Peace Corps suspends program in Bangladesh Date: March 16 2006 No: 827 Peace Corps suspends program in Bangladesh
Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the suspension of the Peace Corps program in Bangladesh on March 15. The safety and security of volunteers is the number one priority of the Peace Corps. Therefore, all Peace Corps volunteers serving in Bangladesh have safely left the country. More than 280 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Bangladesh since the program opened in November 1998. Latest: What other newspapers say.

Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks Date: March 21 2006 No: 839 Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks
The Peace Corps has pulled the invitation to Derek Volkart to join the Morocco Training Program and offered him a position in the Pacific instead after officials read an article in which he stated that his decision to join the Peace Corps was in "response to our current fascist government." RPCV Lew Nash says that "If Derek Volkart spoke his mind as freely in Morocco about the Moroccan monarchy it could cause major problems for himself and other Peace Corps volunteers." Latest: Volkart reverses stance, takes new assignment in Paraguay.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.


Read the stories and leave your comments.






Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: International Herald Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cameroon; Publishing

PCOL32818
76


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: