Say hello to Gail Stuart....
With One Hand Tied Behind His Back: The Life and Times of Gail Stuart is Dick Ramsey’s story of reason, logic, and values thrown topsy-turvy to enable expediency and a quick fix. Justice then becomes another word for happenstance and luck.
Ramsey presents Gail Stuart, a first-year college student falsely accused of stealing a midterm exam. Although the university’s game is rigged to favor the impossible to define greater good over the individual, his accusers have picked on the wrong guy. The story of Gail’s exoneration is a classic example of a forthright individual trouncing a gaggle of supercilious, unprincipled administrators at their own game.But the story also asks: Is the function of government in a free society to rely on the natural development of independent and self sufficient individuals who will keep it free? Or, should government strive to develop only socially cooperative, self-doubting, dependents that, without a consensus, get the jitters crossing a street.
Along the way readers either delight or bristle at a continuous line-up of characters whose reputations vary in degree from worthy to worthless. All have some bearing on whether Gail is found innocent or guilty as he tries to handle a full course load, a fraternity membership, and a sorority hasher’s job while operating his own retail business. Also introduced is Rebecca, a math and physics whiz who falls in love with Gail. How Gail saves Rebecca’s day, and perhaps her life in an altercation with a student renegade is, by itself, worth the read.
Ramsey also explores the history of the Stuart Family and how they came from Scotland to America in the 1850s, eventually settling in Minneapolis. He also tells the story of Gail’s mother, Charlotte Fairfax Stuart, a descendent of Swiss and French mercenaries who were no fans of civilization. Fortunately, she was raised by the more refined British side of the family in Winnetka, Illinois. But World War I causes a change that affects her education and attitudes, and is later reflected in her steel-like hold on principle as she conducts her own life and influences Gail as he is growing up.Finally, Ramsey’s Midwest setting in the 1950s provides a compelling picture of college life and the social atmosphere of the time. It’s often funny, producing knowing smiles and even belly laughs. It is also serious, comparing the uplifting character of the wholesome and forthright to the debilitating inconsistencies and hypocrisy of the unprincipled and unscrupulous.