Pulitzer nominee to sign copies of book

Dr. James Olson, distinguished professor and chair of the SHSU history department, will be signing copies of his latest book “Bathsheba’s Breast: Women, Cancer and History”, at two locations on campus today. The book was recently nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in history.The first signing will be held at the LSC Theater from noon to 2 p.m. The Huntsville Cooperative of Working Artists will hold a reception and signing for Olson in conjunction with the official opening of its art exhibit at the Walker Education Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Olson is scheduled to speak at both events, and copies of his book will be available for $30. Proceeds will go to the Walker County Mammogram Fund, with a matching donation from the Robert A. Josey Fund. “This is my best effort, my best work,” Olson said. “I wanted to help understand more about cancer. Most breast cancer victims are women and most treating them are men. I was interested in the evolution of scientific thinking and how treatment has changed.”Olson, who lost his left forearm and hand to cancer, also said he feels there is more of himself in this book.The John’s Hopkins University Press released “Bathsheba’s Breast” this month to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The cover of the book features Rembrandt’s painting, “Bathsheba at the Well”. In 1967, an Italian surgeon noticed an asymmetry to the model’s left breast. After some research, he concluded that the model possibly died of breast cancer.” I think this is a really wonderful book, but sometimes it’s hard to read because of the subject matter,” said Grettle Payne, coordinator of the events and a member of the Tall Pines Quilt Guild. “The accuracy is quiet breath-taking. It gets to your heart because of some of the famous people that you feel a kinship with.”An editorial review from Book News, Inc. said, “Olson provides an absorbing and often frightening narrative history of breast cancer told through the heroic stories of women who have confronted the disease. Olson traces the medical-cultural course of breast cancer from the Dark Ages to the Age of Liberation and Dr. Jerri Nielsen’s newsworthy self-treatment at the South Pole.””Between the donation from the author and the Josey fund, each $30 book will give $26 to the mammogram fund,” said Payne. These signings are just one piece of a project by the guild to raise money to assist uninsured or underinsured women of Walker County pay for mammographies, Payne said. The project concludes in May on graduation day with the “airing of the quilts” at the courthouse square.Other organizations participating in the event are the SHSU Alumni Association, Huntsville Memorial Hospital, and other SHSU offices.”The city of Huntsville has risen to the call to join in on this. The town is responding to the opportunity to raise money for a good cause,” Payne said. “It’s very touching to be involved with it, and everyone is feeling a desire to participate.”Olson had been chair of the history department since 1988. He has received several honors, including the university’s Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Research awards. Last year, Olson was named Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank in the university.Olson has been the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books. His last book, “John Wayne: American”, recently won the National Book Award of the Popular Culture Association.Robert A. Josey, a Huntsville philanthropist, died in 1954, and left part of his estate to help fund medical needs of the less fortunate in Walker County. The fund is administered by Huntsville Memorial Hospital.

Leave a Reply