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Tuesday, January 15, 2019


DETROIT, MI, Jan. 15, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Continuing its nearly two-decade tradition of bringing internationally-renowned authors and scholars to its campus, Marygrove College’s Institute for Detroit Studies (IDS) will welcome Herb Boyd at its 44th Defining Detroit event on February 11, 2019.

Boyd will present Leadership and Self-Determination in Early Twentieth-Century Black Detroit and sign copies of his latest book, Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination. The presentation begins at 7 p.m. in Madame Cadillac Hall. This event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase.
“We are pleased that Professor Boyd has accepted our invitation to speak at Marygrove,” says IDS co-founder Frank Rashid. “Black Detroit derives from decades of rich personal experience and thorough research into the lives of black Detroiters.”
Previous Defining Detroit speaker and Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Heather Ann Thompson observes that readers of Black Detroit “not only experience the very epicenter of this nation’s most important freedom struggles, but they come to know a city that has always, always, been anchored by a most powerful and determined black community.”
Herb Boyd is a journalist, activist, teacher, and author or editor of twenty-three books. His articles have been published in the Black ScholarFinal Call, the Amsterdam NewsCineasteDownbeat, the Network Journal, and the Daily Beast. A scholar for more than forty years, he teaches African American history and culture at the City College of New York in Harlem, where he lives.
Herb Boyd’s appearance kicks off the 2019 Defining Detroit series, which will also feature noted journalist and author Desiree Cooper on Wednesday, March 20th, on Marygrove’s campus. Ms. Cooper will read from her 2017 book Know The Mother and other works.  An exhibit of the works of Northwest Detroit artists is also planned for spring 2019.
Defining Detroit is a series of Detroit-focused lectures, readings, exhibits, and performances established in 2000 by the Marygrove College Institute for Detroit Studies. Previous guests include Melba Joyce Boyd, Kevin Boyle, Jim Daniels, Toi Derricotte, Angela D. Dillard, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lolita Hernandez, Lawrence Joseph, Philip Levine, Naomi Long Madgett, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas J. Sugrue, June Manning Thomas, and Heather Ann Thompson. A complete list is at:
Established in the city of Detroit in 1927, Marygrove College is an independent Catholic graduate college sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) and guided by the values of human dignity; community; social justice; ecological justice; excellence; innovation; and diversity. The campus is situated on 53 wooded acres at 8425 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit, MI 48221. Visit


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Empire of the Wheel pulls threads

Review of Empire of the Wheel: An Investigation of Occult Espionage and Murder, by Walter Bosley and Richard B. Spence. Corvos Books, 2011.

~~ Tessa B. Dick

A plain grave marker in the potter's field of Mountain View Cemetery reads, “Cora Stanton, Nov. 19, 1915”; it bears no date of birth or next of kin because nobody knows who she is or where she came from. You can see that marker today in the cemetery on Highland Avenue, on the north side of the street, facing the grounds of St. Bernadine Hospital.

The year is 1915. While World War I rages in Europe, the United States remains neutral, sort of. German spies haunt the transportation hubs and infest the social circles of America. British spies cooperate with Americans in their efforts to root out the German spies, along with their Irish and East Indian compatriots, and foil their plans to smuggle arms to the Central Powers. Meanwhile, the U.S. responds to the revolution in Mexico, led by Pancho Villa, by closing down railroad lines that run too close to the southern border. This puts the train station on Third Street in San Bernardino into the position of a major hub for the transportation of both freight and passengers traveling east and west across the continent.

In the midst of international intrigue, San Bernardino's first Chief of Police, Walter Shay, investigates seven unnatural deaths, three of which are children who were poisoned and three of which were adults who apparently committed suicide. The seventh was an adult man who died in an apparently accidental drowning in Lake Baldwin, a mountain lake near Big Bear. These appear to be local matters with no connection to the wider world.

The book follows the newspaper reports of the day, since the police reports no longer exist or at least cannot be found. The authors of focus on Cora Stanton, who almost certainly is not Cora Stanton. Her lifeless body was pulled out of the lake at Urbita Springs, a park that was built in the present location of the Inland Center Mall. Although the lake and park are gone, you can still find traces of them in the landscape around the shopping center. Cora, or whoever she was, had poison tablets in her stomach, but the coroner determined that the cause of death was drowning. Her apparent suicide might be a murder committed as part of a black magic working. Was she used to symbolize Core, the goddess of the Spring who descended into the land of the dead in Greek myth, or was she just an unfortunate woman who decided to take her own life? Follow the threads in this fascinating tale of local history and make up your own mind.

The Kindle edition is available at:

Walter Bosley’s updates and links to purchase the paperback edition are available at: