New Book by Gerald and Janice Haslam

Gerald Haslam, Sonoma State University professor emeritus and his wife Janice, an SSU alum, have written Leon Patterson: A California Story (Devil Mountain Books, 2014) an unsentimental account of the life of a remarkable young man and the people who loved him. It recognizes the joys as well as the sorrows of growing up and growing ill in the San Joaquin Valley, and Leon's conceptual move from his Southwestern roots to the wider possibilities offered by the Golden State.

In 1952, Patterson became the first prep to put the 12lb shot over 60 feet in competition. The following season, at the University of Southern California, he was the nation's number-one freshman discus thrower. In 1954, he was an All-American, placing third in the nationals for the Trojans and he was touted as an Olympic contender. He died that fall and most fans learned Leon Patterson's secret: he had been terminally ill, and had known it while accomplishing those athletic feats.

The Haslams earlier published an award-winning biography Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa ( Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2011).This volume has employed interviews, journals, reports, conversations and letters to produce an unusually candid glimpse at working-class life in the hardscrabble heart of California, in addition to the athletic powerhouse USC, to provide perspectives on Leon's life.

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