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Hastrom was an anthropology professor who was teaching at the University of Chicago in 1934. Disappointed that their most promising student Alan James Mauberg had turned in an otherwise A-grade paper on Tylor's Primitive Culture that fell below his usual standard of work, Hastrom gave it a B and encouraged Mauberg to look into a more recent or little known work for his term paper in the hopes that that made the most of his potential to become a great scientist rather than simply passing the course.
Mauberg heeded his instructor's suggestion and took to researching Magic & Mysticism: the Dark Continent, the work of missing anthropologist Sir Adrian Braidthwaite. This would lead to Mauberg's successful expedition in Africa to find Braidthwaite and marriage to Braidthwaite's granddaughter Cynthia.