12 Questions for Tom Lappas

Learn more about Nazareth history and political science professor Tom Lappas who released his first book, In League Against King Alcohol: Native American Women and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1874–1933, in February.


What trait do you most like about yourself?

The one thing I’ve learned is that if I’m persistent, I can accomplish a lot of my goals through hard work and remarkable stubbornness.


What’s on your nightstand?

Messianic Fulfillments: Staging Indigenous Salvation in America by Hayes Peter Mauro, and the Harbor Freight Tools catalogue.


What is your favorite book?

One of my favorites is still Gordon Wood’s The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1993). It’s a real lesson in the importance of considering the meaning of historical events for their time and not only according to the standards of our own. I’ve also always loved Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. It was one of the first books I read that really changed the way I thought about life.


What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Decided to be a college professor. I had a horrible, horrible fear of public speaking when I started and never thought I’d get over it.


What is one thing on your bucket list?

Don’t tell anyone, but climbing Denali and/or something in the Himalayas.


What is your favorite movie and why?

Any of the Star Wars films. I’ve even developed a fondness for the oft-chided The Phantom Menace. The pod race scene? The light saber fight with Darth Maul? Those are exciting.


What makes you miserable?

Being assigned a task that has almost no possibility of having an impact, success, or meaning (and provides no joy whatsoever) and yet having to waste precious time doing it.


What’s your guilty pleasure?

Nachos. I love making late-night nachos and experimenting with weird ingredients.


What is the best thing about your current job?

I am constantly learning—it’s in the job description!


In the movie of your life, who would star as you?

Hugh Jackman. Clint Eastwood. I have lots of ideas.


Who are your heroes in real life?

My parents.


What is your motto?

“Do your job.” Whenever I wonder about the right path — as a person, a father, a friend, a son, a professor, or advisor — I ask myself, “What’s your actual job here?” Then I just do that and don’t do the thing that’s not my job.

Tom Lappas