(Collage by Joy Olivia Miller)


The Magazine lists a selection of general interest books, films, and albums by alumni. For additional alumni releases, browse the Magazine’s Goodreads bookshelf.

Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment

Anahid Nersessian, AM’06, PhD’11

Poets of the Romantic era did not seek to destroy formal poetic conventions or styles, but rather embraced these limitations as a tool to free their words. Anahid Nersessian, an assistant professor of English at UCLA, argues for a similar approach to life—accepting the world’s limitations in order to unlock human potential. Her utopia is not one of uncompromising perfection but of a more perfect use of what’s available on Earth, setting boundaries as a way to thrive in a world of dwindling resources.

The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction

Matthew B. Crawford, AM’92, PhD’00

Ever since the Enlightenment, Westerners have increasingly dismissed traditional sources of intellectual and cultural authority, equating freedom with the ability to choose where to direct their attention, explains cultural thinker Matthew B. Crawford. However, advertisers and other private interests have become very good at capturing that wandering focus. Drawing on sources ranging from Immanuel Kant to gambling addicts, Crawford explores the modern “crisis of attention” and argues that true concentration—and freedom—only happens through engagement with our physical environment and cultural history.

Brush Back

Sara Paretsky, AM’69, MBA’77, PhD’77

In Sara Paretsky’s 17th V. I. Warshawski mystery, an old high school flame comes to V. I. to ask for help in exonerating his mother, who just served 25 years for murdering his sister, Annie. Despite long-standing animosity between their families, V. I. takes the case. Returning to the South Side, she learns that Annie may not have been the earnest, zestful girl she remembers, and that Annie’s disappearance is more than a family matter. As more violence begins to threatens her own kin, V. I. finds herself facing off against powerful Chicago political bosses.

Why You Can’t Teach United States History Without American Indians

Jean M. O’Brien, AM’82, PhD’90

In many US history classes, discussion of American Indians tends to be limited to lessons on pre-revolutionary America or westward expansion. In this collection of 19 essays, American Indian scholars show how native history influenced, and was influenced by, all the major epochs of US history. The first 16 essays, organized chronologically, reassess major concepts and events in US history through the lens of native history, and the last three aim to help teachers conceptualize their courses to better incorporate American Indian history.

Freedom as Marronage

Neil Roberts, AM’03, PhD’07

From the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, marronage, or organized escape from slavery, created small colonies of former slaves throughout the Americas. Focusing on this oft-overlooked phenomenon, Williams College associate professor Neil Roberts argues that true freedom is not a fixed state but rather a form of perpetual flight. Incorporating the writing of Hannah Arendt, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Rastafari, Roberts uses the specter of slavery to redefine what freedom means in the modern world.

The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy

Paul Sullivan, AM’96

In relating many of the personal finance strategies that he has learned during his years writing the Wealth Matters column for the New York Times, Paul Sullivan stresses the difference between being rich, or having a large but arbitrary amount of money, and being wealthy, or having enough to live comfortably and fully. The distinction between the two, the “thin green line,” is incorporated throughout the book’s advice on investing, spending, and charitable giving, as well as in tales of money decisions gone right—and very wrong.

Greetings from Greaseland

John “Rockin’ Johnny” Burgin, AB’92

Blues musician Rockin’ Johnny Burgin’s latest album takes its name from the California studio where it was recorded. Backed by several Bay Area blues musicians, Burgin offers a mix of his takes on blues classics and original songs.