Book Report

New books by local authors Glenn Whitman, Ian Kelleher, Steve Roberts, Herta Feely and John Yochelson



Glenn Whitman says he’s amazed at the lack of training teachers receive on how the brain learns. So Whitman, who lives in Potomac and works there as director of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, teamed up with colleague Ian Kelleher of Bethesda to write Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2016). “We see the book as a critical bridge between the research world and the classroom teaching world,” Whitman says. It is full of practical ideas, such as designing class with the understanding that what students recall the most takes place in the first part of class and in the closing minutes.

Bethesda has been home to journalist Steve Roberts for nearly 40 years. Writing a column for Bethesda Magazine, Roberts says, deepened his interest in local history, and in November his book Bethesda and Chevy Chase comes out as part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. Primarily a collection of photographs, the book includes Roberts’ commentary on how the two suburbs were made possible by the trolley car. Bethesda has always been a hub of commerce, while Chevy Chase has been more residential. “Chevy Chase is reserved. Bethesda is rambunctious,” Roberts says. “There are two sides of suburban life, each with their graces and their virtues.” Roberts says this area defies the stereotype that suburbs are without character or soul: “These are communities with a wonderful, rich history.”

Herta Feely was inspired to write about the dark side of social media after reading about a Missouri teen who took her own life after being cyber-bullied. In Feely’s first novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow (Upper Hand Press, September 2016), set in suburban Washington, D.C., she explores the hurtful activity that takes place online and how parents respond. The author hopes the book will draw attention to bullying and initiate conversations in the community. “Sometimes, we as parents, we don’t want to face the realities that exist because it’s hard,” says Feely, who lives in Upper Northwest, D.C.  “We need to educate each other, be kind to each other and recognize that we, as adults, are role models.”

In his new book, Loving and Leaving Washington: Reflections on Public Service (Potomac Books, August 2016), John Yochelson writes about his dismay at the rise of extreme partisanship in the nation’s capital and the steep dissent of public faith in government. Coming of age in the era of John F. Kennedy, the author worked for decades in public policy on economic and defense issues with the likes of Henry Kissinger. Yochelson moved to San Diego in 2001 to head up an education nonprofit, and then returned to Bethesda in 2016. Describing himself as an old-fashioned idealist, the 72-year-old says the book is a call for a renewed commitment to Washington-based public service: “We need the first team in government. There are way too many issues to face.”

What’s on your bedside table?


Courtesy of Allison Aubrey

Allison Aubrey, a correspondent for NPR News, intended to just skim Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich (Random House, 2016) in preparation for an interview with the author. But the Kensington resident, who reports on health and science, says the book immediately drew her in.

It tells the story of Henry Molaison, known as Patient H.M., who became profoundly amnesic after undergoing a lobotomy in 1953 to treat epileptic seizures. The author is the grandson of William Scoville, the doctor who performed the experimental brain surgery, which was a personal tragedy for Molaison, but a boon for scientists studying memory.

Aubrey says she found the book disturbing as it described this period when mental illness was treated with surgery, sometimes without patient consent. “If you had some kind of personality trait or orientation that put you outside the social norm, you were a candidate for lobotomy, which is insane,” Aubrey says.

While the research was fascinating, Aubrey was captivated by the personal element of the book, in which Dittrich revealed his own family’s secrets. “In the interview [on All Things Considered], I could still feel him grappling with the personal weight of the story,” she says.

 

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