posted January 13, 2003

Fred Johnson Writes Novel

 Dr. Fred L. Johnson III, assistant professor of history at Hope College, is the author of "A Man Finds His Way," published recently by One World/Ballantine Books of New York City.

The book focuses on the personal and professional challenges faced by Darius Collins, a history professor in Cleveland, Ohio. Collins, who is African American, weathers professional storms for opposing a university visit by a controversial black activist who is also anti-semitic. A divorced father who is struggling with the dating scene, he faces an even greater challenge when his troubled teenage son is accused of rape. Along the way, he reconnects with spiritual roots that had been fostered in his youth by his now-deceased minister father.

"Publishers Weekly" has noted that "A Man Finds His Way" "offers a thoughtful take on some tough contemporary issues in job politics and race relations," and calls Collins "an intelligent, well-drawn protagonist with believable strengths and flaws."

"A Man Finds His Way" is Johnson's second novel. His first book, "Bittersweet," was published early in 2002, and has received critical acclaim. "Essence" called "Bittersweet" "a book to curl up with on a winter evening... an appealing tale of sibling rivalry and revelry from a man's perspective."

Johnson joined the Hope faculty in the fall of 2000. His primary field is 19th century U.S. history, specifically the Confederacy during the Civil War. Other areas of study include the U.S. in the 20th century, the U.S. military and Africa.

He is also revising his doctoral dissertation for publication. Titled "The Tracks of War: Confederate Rail Policy and the Struggle for the Baltimore & Ohio," it is a case study of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad during the Civil War to determine whether or not, or to what extent, the Confederate government had a definitive strategy against it and other United States railroads. He is also conducting research for a book on the history of U.S. foreign policy in East Africa since 1945, and is interested in writing a biography of Henry O. Flipper, who was born a slave and in 1877 became the first black graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Johnson grew up in the Washington, D.C., metro area. He received his bachelor's degree from Bowie State College in Maryland, and his master's and doctorate from Kent State University in Ohio. His past career experiences include serving as a corporate trainer and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Johnson's community involvement includes serving on the board of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

"A Man Finds His Way" is available in hardcover, and retails for $23.95. Copies are available at the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore and other area booksellers.