Melissa Etheridge. (Photography by BobNJeff, CC BY 2.0)
The Magazine lists a selection of general-interest books, films, and albums by alumni. For additional alumni releases, browse the Magazine’s Goodreads bookshelf.

My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords from 70 Legendary Musicians

Julia Crowe, AB’92 Author Collecting interviews with 70 well-loved and critically acclaimed guitarists­—including Carlos Santana, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmy Page, and Les Paul—Julia Crowe examines the intimate relationship between artist and instrument. Crowe includes anecdotes about first instruments and early inspirations, along with pages of personal photos.  

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

William Kuhn, AB’79 Author In his novel, William Kuhn conjures a modern adventure for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, a monarch emboldened by her yoga practice and searching for meaning beyond the walls of Buckingham Palace. Disguised in a hooded sweatshirt, Mrs. Queen catches a train at King’s Cross in hopes of visiting the decommissioned family yacht Britannia, now a floating tourist trap off the coast of Scotland. Pursuing Her Royal Highness are the first-generation British Indian purveyor of the royal cheddar and the animal-rights enthusiast who manages the palace stables.  

Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France

Naomi Davidson, AM’01, PhD’07 Author Encapsulated by the contradictory history of the Mosquée de Paris—built in 1926 to honor Muslim veterans of WW I and later used to confine and regulate the urban Muslim population—the French Islamic experience is one of geographical and cultural isolation, writes Naomi Davidson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Ottawa. Using architectural plans, police reports, propaganda films, and other documents, Davidson argues that the “notion that one was only and forever Muslim” generated prejudices that continue to influence French religious policy and sentiments.  

Families in Crisis in the Old South: Divorce, Slavery, and the Law

Loren Schweninger, PhD’72 Author Though largely characterized as a contemporary phenomenon, divorce featured prominently in the antebellum South, argues Loren Schweninger, University of North Carolina at Greensboro professor emeritus of history. Weaving together elements of almost 800 historical divorce cases, Schweninger makes connections between divorce and separation in white families and larger social issues, including property relations, domestic violence, and alcoholism. He suggests that rather than representing the “lowest ebb of degeneracy,” as one antebellum lawmaker insisted, divorce trends led to expanded legal rights for married women and the evolution of modern divorce and separation laws.  

Navigating Environmental Attitudes

Thomas A. Heberlein, AB’67 Author With an opening quote from Aldo Leopold, the patriarch of US wilderness management, Thomas A. Heberlein makes the case for the happy marriage of environmental and sociological studies and dismisses what he calls the “fallacy of the cognitive fix” for mounting environmental problems. A University of Wisconsin–Madison professor emeritus in environmental sociology and a visiting professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Heberlein assumes the anecdotal tone of a Wendell Berry essay and uses evidence to engage the skeptical. He presents a plan of action, arguing for the mutually beneficial union of human and environmental concerns.  

Bogus Allegations: The Injustice of Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Michelle Lombardi Gesse, MBA’78 Author In a book that’s part memoir, part criminal-justice primer, Michelle Lombardi Gesse writes about her experience fighting to defend her husband against a false felony allegation—he was accused in 2009 of threatening a dinner guest with a gun. Linking her husband’s ordeal with the recently exonerated “West Memphis Three,” Gesse examines the “flow system” of the US legal system, which she argues prizes quick turnaround over deliberation and due process.  

An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence

Judith Testa, AM’67, PhD’83 Author Drawing on decades as a Northern Illinois University art history professor and a lifelong affinity for Italian culture, Judith Testa offers an informative introduction to Florentine art and the lives of celebrated artists. Rather than an exhaustive listing of the city’s art, Testa’s essay collection focuses on her favorites. As she notes, “Florentine hospitals treat hundreds of visitors each year for symptoms brought on by trying to see [it] all, an illness first described by the French author Stendhal, and today known as ‘Stendhal’s Syndrome.’”