Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Books

  1. Under Minnesota Skies: John and Dorothy Hondl Family History and Farm Memories

    by Bernadette Hondl Thomasy and Colleen Hondl Gengler

    Armed with a master’s degree in journalism from U-M in 1970, Bernadette Hondl Thomasy embarked on a long, successful career telling other people’s stories. Upon retirement she has crafted her own experiences into a memoir as one of three daughters growing up on a farm near Owatonna, Minn., in the late 1940s-‘60s. The book Under Minnesota Skies is a lively telling of stories from several generations that captures the sweat, tears, laughs, and daily challenges of a family making a living from the land.

    Thomasy’s coauthor is her sister Colleen Hondl Gengler whose fascination with history uncovered details of the family’s Czech/German ancestors who purchased the land where the Hondl sisters grew up. The authors seek to preserve details of the family-farm lifestyle while gaining understanding of how working the land and their cultural heritage shaped them into the people they are today. They explore the vital role their parents played in raising independent daughters in an era dominated by gender bias.

    The book’s fast-paced narrative, along with 60 photos, depicts the farm’s evolution from relying on horses to using tractor power and new labor-saving machinery. With no boys in the family, the daughters learn life lessons while loading hay and straw bales, feeding cattle and pigs, and pulling weeds. Gengler’s observations on a 2014 visit to the Czech homeland provide further insight into the traditions forgotten and upheld which connect the Hondl family to the Czech community in the Owatonna area — heritage they were unaware of while growing up.

    Thomasy was an award-winning staff writer at The Blade (Toledo, Ohio), from 1970-79. After continuing for 25 years in communications/public relations in the Toledo area, she retired with her husband to Sacramento, Calif. Coauthor Gengler of Iona, Minn., enjoyed a 38-year career as an educator with University of Minnesota Extension.

  2. How Deep is the Ocean?

    by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

    The ocean covers almost three-quarters of the Earth, but how deep does it go? Put on your SCUBA gear and explore the ocean, from its shallowest waters to its deepest, most mysterious parts. As you dive deeper, you’ll discover glowing animals, strange creatures that don’t need sunlight to survive, and even the largest hunter in the world.

    With beautiful illustrations and engaging text, How Deep Is the Ocean? will guide young readers into the deepest parts of the ocean. Featuring a find-out-more section with a water-pressure experiment, a lesson in making a sounding line to learn how scientists measure the depth of the ocean, a glossary of new terms, and web research prompts, this book will begin children’s explorations of the deep sea. Both the text and the artwork were vetted for accuracy by Dr. David Gruber, real-life deep-sea explorer and professor of biology and environmental science at Baruch College.

    Author Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld received her MA degree from U-M in 1977.

  3. Nuclear Lies, Deceptions, and Hypocrisies

    by Mehdi Sarram

    Published just days before the ink was dry on the Treaty with Iran, Mehdi Sarram’s book has captured the essence of this world debate as he shares his knowledge and experience in the atomic energy industry.

    Mehdi holds a postgraduate degree from U-M. He is a professional engineer with 47 years of nuclear experience and has traveled to 38 countries, most of them with nuclear programs.

    He was a U.S. Atomic Energy Commission senior reactor operator in 1965. In addition, he was a professor at the University of Tehran from 1968-74 and one of the eight directors of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran from 1974-79. In 1977 he organized the first International Conference on Transfer of Nuclear Technology in Persepolis, Iran, attended by 500 senior government and industry representatives from 42 countries. He went to Vienna in 1981 and worked for the International Atomic Energy Agency Department of Safeguards.

    Medhi immigrated to the U.S. in 1982 and worked at Raytheon Nuclear until 1998. Currently he is an independent consultant.

  4. Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain’s Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour

    by Richard Zacks

    Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain’s Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour comes from the New York Times bestselling author of Pirate Hunter and Island of Vice. Author Zacks delivers the untold story of how in 1895 Samuel Langhorne Clemens — the highest paid writer in America — succeeded in losing his entire family’s fortune, only to win it all back and rehabilitate his reputation through the world’s first global standup comedy tour.

    Twain delivered 122 standup comedy performances — the greatest hits of his career in a 90-minute one-man show — across the U.S. and on to Australia, New Zealand, India, Ceylon, and South Africa. The performances were funny, poignant, strangely thought-provoking, and wildly popular. No American author had ever talked his way around the world. And on the cusp of success, his family suffered a horrific tragedy, but Twain survived and returned triumphant to New York City in 1900.

    Chasing the Last Laugh is the story of how with humor and perseverance Mark Twain rallied to repay his debts and restore his fortune. It is also the tale of how the famed author found himself caught in the middle between two powerful advisors: his honor-bound wife and his ruthless tycoon friend, H.H. “Hell Hound” Rogers of Wall Street, a vice president at Standard Oil.

    Zacks introduces a previously unseen side of an American icon — Twain as expat — via new source material, including many of the artist’s previously unpublished letters and personal notebooks from the last decade of the 19th century, unlocking the key to some of the most serious writing and biting humor of his career.

  5. Building Family Business Champions

    by Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle

    Building Family Business Champions provides a theoretically sound and practical framework for understanding the challenges that family businesses face. Drawing on three decades of consulting, their own experience running a family-owned firm, and sound research, Eric G. Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle explain that the success of these companies hinges upon the dual management of family functionality and company infrastructure.

    After laying this groundwork, the authors attend to issues that uniquely pertain to these companies, such as succession and familial dysfunction. Finally, the book offers a set of short self-assessments that can be used in any family business. Richly illustrated with stories of companies at various stages of growth from around the globe, this book provides a comprehensive guide for building businesses that thrive from generation to generation.

    Flamholtz is a graduate of the Ross School of Business.

  6. Innovating Lean Six Sigma

    by Kimberly Watson-Hemphill and Kristine Nissen Bradley

    If you’re a business leader, you already know that Lean Six Sigma is one of the most popular and powerful business tools in the world today. You also probably know that implementing the process can be more than a little challenging. This step-by-step guide shows you how to customize and apply the principles of Lean Six Sigma to your own organizational needs, giving you more options, strategies, and solutions than you’ll find in any other book on the subject. With these simple, proven techniques, you can:

    • Assess your current business model and shape your future goals
    • Plan and prepare a Lean Six Sigma program that’s right for your company
    • Engage your leadership and your team throughout the entire process
    • Align your LSS efforts with the culture and values of your business
    • Develop deeper insights into your customer experience
    • Master the art of project selection and pipeline management
    • Tackle bigger problems and find better solutions
    • Become more efficient, more productive, and more profitable

    This innovative approach to the Lean Six Sigma process allows you to mold and shape your strategy as you go, making small adjustments along the way that can have a big impact. In this book, you’ll discover the most effective methods for deploying LSS at every level, from the leaders at the top to the managers in the middle to the very foundation of your company culture. You’ll hear from leading business experts who have guided companies through the LSS process—and get the inside story on how they turned those companies around. You’ll also learn how to use the latest, greatest management tools like Enterprise Kaizen, Customer Journey Maps, and Hoshin Planning.

    Co-author Watson-Hemphill holds BA and BSE degrees from U-M.

  7. Stack the Legal Odds in Your Favor

    by Sara Naheedy and Tom Scott

    This legal self-help book is the hybrid product of a lawyer and a non-lawyer author. It is packed with unbiased information about the current state of the legal system, why it is the way it is, where it is headed, and, most importantly, how to beat it at its own game!

    This is the only legal self-help resource that

    • reveals clandestine rules, discusses unorthodox strategies, and propounds novel information
    • contains the broad insight of authors internal and external to the U.S. judiciary
    • provides ways to counteract the corruption within the system so crucial for the average person to successfully fight a legal battle

    The authors cover speeding tickets, small claims, divorce, criminal defense, landlord tenant law, debt collection, and probate, wills, and trusts.

    Co-author Naheedy is a 2003 graduate of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. She is an attorney in Irvine, Calif. More info: www.stloiyf.com

  8. Shmulik Paints the Town

    by Lisa Rose Granitz Chottiner

    This picture book is about a painter who has to create a mural for Israeli Independence Day. He can’t decide what to paint and gets a little help from a very unexpected source — his dog!

    Chottiner, who earned her BA degree from the School of Education in 1995, proudly reports that her book is now part of the PJ Library, which sends Jewish children’s books and music every month to families with children ages 6 months through 8 years. The PJ Library reaches more than 375,000 children and their families around the world.

  9. The Drifter

    by Nicholas Petrie

    This debut novel offers a trenchant exploration of the shattered lives of returning veterans, wrapped in the cloak of a riveting thriller. The literary page-turner pits Peter Ash, a damaged veteran of the wars Afghanistan and Iraq, against a criminal web in contemporary Milwaukee. Waging a different kind of battle within, Peter tries to put his own tenuous life together. In an attempt to tune out the noise in his own head, he offers help to the widow of his best friend from the battlefield — an act of expiation that turns deadly. New York Times best-selling author Steve Barry describes it as a “tangled tale of intrigue, action, and adventure with a battle-scarred hero who definitely rises to the challenge.”

    Author Petrie received his MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, won a Hopwood Award for short fiction while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, and his story “At the Laundromat” won the 2006 Short Story Contest in The Seattle Review, a national literary journal. A husband and father, he runs a home-inspection business in Milwaukee.