Ouachita to host author, retired Lt. Col. Mark McGraw for memoir reading on Nov. 5

ARKADELPHIA — Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Language and Literature will host author Dr. Mark McGraw in a debut reading of his newly published memoir, Behind Friendly Lines: Memoirs of a U.S. Marine in Chile, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. The event will be held in room 200 of Hickingbotham Hall and is free and open to the public. There also will be time for questions from the audience after the reading.

McGraw, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a lecturer in Spanish at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He earned his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies as well as his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University, and also earned a master’s degree from Webster University. During his career in the U.S. Marine Corps, McGraw learned Spanish and worked in 35 different countries.

McGraw’s book, Behind Friendly Lines, explores his time spent serving as the only foreigner in the Chilean Marine Corps. McGraw records his own and his family’s struggles with a new language and environment, the difficulty of dealing with a commander hostile to Americans and the struggle to return to America, a place he once called home.

“I have read the book with the greatest pleasure,” said Dr. Johnny Wink, Betty Burton Peck Professor of English. “It’s all about Dr. McGraw’s deepening his Spanish, learning to serve in another country’s branch of the armed services and broadening his worldview by getting himself so profoundly involved with another worldview. It’s a breathtaking, beautiful book.

“I think that bringing people like Mark McGraw to campus serves a purpose very similar to the one served by Mark’s becoming part of the Chilean navy,” Wink added. “People who attend Mark’s reading will almost certainly have their worldviews broadened, at least a little.”

“Stories transcend, or enfold, so many other disciplines, which is why narrative disciplines should be at the heart of the modern liberal arts,” said Dr. Doug Sonheim, chair of Ouachita’s Department of Language and Literature and holder of the Clarence and Bennie Sue Anthony Chair of Bible and the Humanities. “Hearing Mark’s stories about his real-life experiences as a Marine officer ‘behind friendly lines’ will expand our understanding of the world.

“Students from a variety of majors and extra-curricular areas – ROTC, Spanish, athletics, political science, sociology, social justice, to name just a few – will be fascinated and stimulated by these stories,” Sonheim said.

McGraw’s other published works include his English translations of Joseph Avski’s books, Heart of Scorpio and One Step from Juárez, as well as essays featured in The New York Times, Opinionator blog, Vital and gravelcyclist.com. He previously served as assistant professor of Spanish at Ouachita.

For more information about the reading, contact Dr. Doug Sonheim at sonheimd@obu.edu or (870) 245-5554.

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