El Estoque

Book club: Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal explores the apocalypse through literature

Chemistry+teacher+Mike+McCrystal+works+on+scheduling+and+grading+during+class.+His+shirt+references+Franz+Kafka%2C+a+famous+Jewish+author+who+specialized+in+grimmer+tales+that+explored+human+nature+and+life+in+general.++
Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal works on scheduling and grading during class. His shirt references Franz Kafka, a famous Jewish author who specialized in grimmer tales that explored human nature and life in general.

Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal works on scheduling and grading during class. His shirt references Franz Kafka, a famous Jewish author who specialized in grimmer tales that explored human nature and life in general.

Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal works on scheduling and grading during class. His shirt references Franz Kafka, a famous Jewish author who specialized in grimmer tales that explored human nature and life in general.

Bill Cheng

Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal works on scheduling and grading during class. His shirt references Franz Kafka, a famous Jewish author who specialized in grimmer tales that explored human nature and life in general.

Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal works on scheduling and grading during class. His shirt references Franz Kafka, a famous Jewish author who specialized in grimmer tales that explored human nature and life in general.

Chemistry teacher Mike McCrystal knows a little more about the end of the world than most . He grew up in the United States at the height of the Cold War, the international conflict between the NATO nations and the Soviet Union and its allies. From around 1947 to 1991, global thermonuclear war was an all-too-real possibility between the two powers.

“I’m the first wave of baby boomers: I was born in 1948, three years after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” McCrystal said. “I grew up through all that period of time with the Cold War when it was a hot Cold War… I used to have nightmares about it as a kid, and the nightmares didn’t stop until … the Soviet Union was broken up.”

McCrystal also remembers his own fear of total war, which manifested as frequent nightmares. These ill dreams often included post-apocalyptic themes and images of nuclear destruction.

“The worst case scenario was like the second Terminator movie, the chain link fence scene. It still makes me shudder,” McCrystal said. “The more recurring dream, which was worse, was the wasteland. The radiation poisoned landscape.”

Even now, McCrystal is drawn to books that revolve around the theme of the apocalypse. Below are his two favorite books that he would recommend to students at MVHS.

Chemistry Teacher Mike McCrystal's Favorite Books