Nonfiction | September 01, 1988

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Sociologist Samuel Oliner, tweedy, bespectacled, and silverhaired, is the visual ideal of the small university professor, but his handsome features and thoughtful manner conceal a dark truth, certain horrendous experiences of his childhood and teens that are central to his real identity.  Oliner rarely speaks of them to friends or to colleagues at Humboldt State University at Arcata in northern California, but seeking to exorcise the demons of that period from his psyche he wrote a memoir, privately published in 1979, titled Restless Memories. It opens with an account of the event that destroyed Oliner’s world and led him, forty years later, to undertake the major work of his life, an ambitious research project, just completed, on the psychological and social factors that make for human altruism.

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