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Burroughs High School graduates become authors of note

By Bruce Auld News Review Contributor–

At least three Burroughs authors have written about growing up “China Lake.”  John Martin’s (BHS 1966) book The Last Camelot, US Navy’s “Secret City” chronicles his experience living on station for essentially all of his youth.  Born in West Virginia, John arrived as a toddler in 1949.  Karen Piper arrived on station in her early school years, attending Groves and Vieweg before enrolling at Immanuel Christian School (ICS), where she graduated.  Her novel, A Girl’s Guide to Missiles, Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert, chronicles her family’s journey from the Pacific Northwest to China Lake and growing up in Ridgecrest.  Dr. William Haseltine’s (BHS 1962) autobiography, My Lifelong Fight against Disease has a very poignant account of his family’s early life at China Lake.

Possibly the first Burroughs graduates to publish books were Dr. Jerry Hough (BHS 1951) and Andrew Hoyem (BHS 1953).  Both published books in 1969.  Andrew Hoyem published a compilation of his poetry, ARTICLES, written from 1960 through 1967.  He would later become a publisher of fine books, really fine books.   Dr. Jerry Hough’s first of many books was The Soviet Perfects: The Local Party Organs in Industrial Decision-Making.  Dr. Hough would be for many decades the premier expert on US and Russia relations.  Jerry’s last book, Changing Party Coalitions, The Mystery of the Red State-Blue State Alignment focused on American politics.

Dr. Kristin Highberg Berry (BHS 1960) has a lifetime of writings, yet likely, Natural History Notes: Gopherus Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise, synthesizes her lifelong work with her scientific colleagues in their effort to preserve the wild desert tortoise.

Dr. Florence Haseltine (BHS 1960), K-12 classmate of Dr. Highberg Berry and likewise a prolific writer, published Woman Doctor.  Florence’s brother, Dr. William Haseltine (BHS 1962) continues write and publish at an astonishing rate in the scientific and medical fields.  Florence’s youngest brother, Dr. Eric Haseltine (BHS 1969) published Riding the Monster: Five Ways to Innovate Inside Bureaucracies, his most recent of several books.

Three authors hail from the Burroughs class of 1965. Charlotte Blackmon Collins wrote A Path Called Tiffany, Greg Garman’s Human Biology is a textbook for non-science students and Roy Randolph has written Thomas Hubbard’s War and Captain Charles Fordyce, 14th Foot.  Both of Roy’s books are Revolutionary War historical works.

Dianne Butler Tolliver (BHS 1976) is the daughter of Dan and Barbara Butler.  Dan was a member of the first Burroughs graduating class, 1946.  Dan returned to China Lake to teach fifth grade at Richmond School and served on the IWV school board for several terms.  Barbara was a school secretary, second to none.  Dianne spent decades as an executive in the corporate world, largely as a vice president for Boeing.  Dianne has authored two books: Living Through Troubled Times and Life-Everyone has a Story.  Her website boasts over one million views.

Dr. Richard Pogge (BHS 1979) is one of many published Burroughs astrophysicists, Richard co-authored Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium.  I have  a copy, but I was lost from the start.

Dr. Bruce McClung (BHS 1979) is an American music scholar and author of Lady in the Dark: Biography of a Musical.   I read it flying to Virginia.  It is fascinating, but I was lost in the academic vocabulary.   Dr. McClung is currently working on a second book, World of Tomorrow: Music and the New York’s Fair, 1939/1940.

Brenda Burdette (BHS 1984) is finishing her first, yet currently untitled book. Brenda travels the world looking for inspiring design, luxury travel destinations, holistic beauty and wellness centers, chic shops and beautiful restaurants.  All the while, connecting with healers, poets and artist along the way.

Mark Hoppus (BHS 1990) has authored sixteen books published by Goodreads.  His most popular book is Blink-182: Tales from Beneath Your Mom.

Leslie Stein (BHS 1993) graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and flew Chinook helicopters in Kosovo and South Korea.  After leaving active duty, Leslie created “Full Circle Inspiration” a leadership consultancy. Her book is titled Penny Perspective.  According to Amazon, I bought the last available copy.

Burroughs boasts at least two best selling novelists.  Brett Battles (BHS 1980), is a USA Today best-selling author in the “thriller” genre.  Brett has been nominated for the prestigious Barry Award three times, winning in 2009 for his novel The Deceived.  Sabaa Tahir (BHS 2000), writes in the young adult/fantasy genre.  Her Ember in the Ashes series garnered her a Time Magazine 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time recognition.  In 2022, Sabaa released All My Rage, a fiction novel about her real experience of growing in her family’s motel in Ridgecrest.  Our fourteen-year-old granddaughter has read all of Sabaa’s books, a book a day, and gives her writings two thumbs up.  I read All My Rage.  Gripping, yet a fiction novel.  Sabaa and brother Haroon Saleem (BHS 1996), both UCLA graduates, are developing a screen play for All My Rage.  Haroon has twenty years of experience as a television producer.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. William Haseltine (BHS 1962) was interviewed non-stop on all the cable channels.  I thought it important that local viewers know Bill’s roots at China Lake, likely as Burroughs most notable graduate.  Looking at his website, I noted that he was represented by a speakers brokerage. I emailed the contact.  Within hours, Bill and I were in direct contact.  When I told I was writing a history of Burroughs, he got me in touch with his publicist, who sent me an advance copy of Bill’s autobiography – My Lifelong Fight Against Disease.  And at age 77, Bill is still fighting disease, cranking out scholarly research-based articles on COVID and an emerging resurgence of polio.  Bill has recently taken to writing children’s books, likewise research-based.