(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.

Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts

Caroline Heller, AB’72

Caroline Heller’s mother, Liese, had fallen for Erich Heller while studying in prewar Prague, but Erich’s brother, Paul, remained in love with Liese even during the six years he spent in concentration camps. Paul and Liese were later reunited and married in the United States, where their daughter, Caroline, grew up with the ghost of her parents’ past. In Reading Claudius, she combines their story with her own and shows how two generations found solace and strength in literature.

The Senator Next Door: A Memoir From the Heartland

Amy Klobuchar, JD’85

In 2006 Amy Klobuchar became the first woman elected to the US Senate from Minnesota. This frank memoir chronicles her life thus far and shows how the challenges she’s faced, from her father’s struggles with alcoholism to tough battles in Congress, have molded her into a determined politician with an unshakable faith in our government. Political courage, she believes, is “stand[ing] next to someone you don’t agree with for the betterment of this country.”

Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio

Jessica Abel, AB’91

Cartoonist and writer Jessica Abel’s graphic novel takes readers behind the scenes of seven popular narrative radio shows and podcasts. With a foreword by This American Life’s Ira Glass and plenty of insider anecdotes, Abel illustrates how shows like Serial, Planet Money, Snap Judgment, and RadioLab find and construct compelling stories that engage growing audiences.

Swedish Design: An Ethnography

Keith M. Murphy, AB’99

Furniture and household goods manufacturers like Ikea have spread iconic Swedish design around the world. But the simple, functional style is about more than aesthetics. Since the 19th century, Swedish politicians and social planners have used design to promote egalitarianism, responsibility, and other social democratic values. With an anthropological focus, University of California, Irvine, associate professor Keith M. Murphy investigates the political and social power of design in Sweden.

Contraband: Smuggling and the Birth of the American Century

Andrew Wender Cohen, AM’92, PhD’99

Smuggling tested Americans’ patriotism in the 18th and 19th centuries, tempting citizens to dodge protectionist tariffs to procure foreign luxuries. Focusing on the Gilded Age, Syracuse University associate professor Andrew Wender Cohen uses the history of smuggling in America to illuminate larger ideas about US economics, culture, and power.

Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim

Justin Gifford, AM’99

In 1967, after decades as a pimp and criminal, Robert Beck released a gritty memoir, Pimp, that launched him as one of the best-selling and most influential black writers of the 20th century. University of Nevada associate professor Justin Gifford presents a nuanced biography of the man known as Iceberg Slim, from his life on the streets to his subversive writing to his wider impact on “street,” and American, culture.

Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, 1755-1783

Richard H. Brown and Paul E. Cohen, AM’75

Rare book dealer Paul Cohen helps provide a cartographical account of the American Revolution, using historical maps and drawings to illustrate how, and where, the conflict unfolded. From maps of land claims in North America before the war to a battlefield diagram of Yorktown, the 60 images and accompanying essays in Revolution provide a fresh perspective on America’s beginnings.

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Bonnie Jo Campbell, AB’84

The female protagonists in Bonnie Jo Campbell’s latest collection of short stories inhabit a brutal rural American landscape, full of traumatic pasts and limited dreams. From an abused wife who takes revenge on her bedridden husband to a mother searching for a warm home for her family, the women are flawed but strong, fighting for the best lives they can get.