Roundtable Recap

By Liz Lian ’15 and Tyler House ’15

We kicked off our tenure as Roundtable chairs this past April with dinner and discussion with Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic and current oped columnist for the New York Times. Mr.Bruni, who was also teaching a Princeton journalism class at the time, shared the story of his career in journalism and offered valuable career and life advice with a lively audience of Ivy members in the Great Hall.

This October, we had the pleasure of having our club steward, Betty Rascher, as our first Roundtable guest of the semester. Ms. Rascher shared stories from her own life and from Ivy’s history over a relaxed and memorable dinner in the Music Room.

Attendance from our membership has remained high, and we are excited to continue on the tradition of lively discussion, dinner, and delightful company. We look forward to inviting many more diverse and inspiring guests to join us in the months to come!

Review of The White Nile Diaries, An Adventurous Tale by John Hopkins ’60

By Nicki (Chandris) Asquith ’06

Some young Princetonians, when lacking purpose after graduation, petition the careers office. But John Hopkins ’60, to the dismay of his family, set off with Joe McPhillips ’58 into the “great gray green greasy unknown” of Africa to visit Sam Small ’40 on his ranch at the foot of Mt. Kenya. On a motorcycle, dubbed “The White Nile” for the river that would guide them, they selected a perilous route from Munich to Mombasa, equipped with a breath-taking indifference to danger. The White Nile Diaries describes with good humor some hairraising dramas along the way: being set upon by armed vigilantes in the crisping Tunisian desert, being shot at by Libyan border guards and slung into prison.

This book is a riveting read, and not just for the dramatic incidents. Hopkins’ observations of people, places, politics and religion are expressed with elegant economy that shows no hint of selfcensorship. As the story unfolds, the diarist’s urge to become a writer gradually crystallizes; limpid and beautifully turned phrases jump off the page. Humor and playfulness abound. Wondering, for example, what the missionaries in Sudan hoped to achieve with primitive tribes, he jokes that: “to put clothes on these naked maidens – you might as well throw an overcoat over a leopard.” Hopkins shows himself to be a true explorer; once in Africa he affirms that he has “tasted the lotus and [is] not going back”, and indeed he spent many years living in Africa thereafter; Joe McPhillips stayed for the rest of his life.