Thomas Frank, AM’89, PhD’94
A Democrat has occupied the White House for 16 of the past 24 years. So why hasn’t the party of Andrew Jackson’s populism and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal done more to help the working class? To Thomas Frank, founding editor of the Baffler, the problem goes beyond campaign finance laws and political opposition. He argues that the Democratic Party has shifted its commitment from the average American to the corporate, cultural, and intellectual elite, allowing economic inequality to grow largely unchecked.
Joseph Epstein, AB’59
Many of the works in writer, critic, and National Humanities Medal winner Joseph Epstein’s new story collection are set in his hometown of Chicago. From the struggles of a son who receives an early inheritance in “Remittance Man” to the follies of older men who pursue younger women in “The Viagra Triangle,” the tales chronicle love, aging, and the intricacies of urban life.
Mitchell Duneier, AM’85, PhD’92
The term ‘ghetto’ has been around since 1516, when the Venetian government ordered its Jewish residents into a quartered-off section of the city. For much of its 500-year history the word has been used to describe Jewish-inhabited areas of forced separation—a history that helps clarify the word’s current use and the confluence of race, place, and poverty in America, asserts Princeton sociologist Mitchell Duneier. Focusing on ghettos past and present, Duneier shows how the word and its changing meaning have shaped public policy.
Ari Berkowitz, AB’84
Nervous systems control all animal behavior, but not all systems govern in the same way. Some have “dictator” neurons that send down orders, while some make decisions democratically with input from many neurons, explains University of Oklahoma biology professor Ari Berkowitz. In this accessible overview, Berkowitz explores the evolution of these different systems and how they can coexist within a single animal.
Jeanne Safer, AB’69
Unrequited love, unhealthy friendships, traumatic breakups—we’ve all been there. In 12 essays psychotherapist Jeanne Safer shares her own relationship experiences and memorable anecdotes from other people in her life, including her patients. The collection shows how universal stories like these are, and how entertaining, and liberating, they can be.
Hannah Pittard, AB’01
In Hannah Pittard’s third novel, Mark and Maggie are setting out on their annual road trip, shortly after Maggie was mugged at gunpoint and long after their marriage first began to unravel. A fierce storm and chilling encounters with strangers along the way add to the tumult, and the couple is eventually forced to spend the night at a remote, powerless inn. There Maggie’s paranoia starts to spin out of control, until another tragic situation allows her to step back into the driver’s seat.
Claire Hoffman, AM’05
When Claire Hoffman is five, her mother moves her and her brother to Heaven on Earth, the Iowa headquarters of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation movement. The early years are magical, but as Claire grows up she becomes increasingly skeptical of Maharishi and the costs of enlightenment, and flees to her father in California. This memoir chronicles Hoffman’s upbringing and how, years later, she returns to the Iowa community to recapture a bit of enlightenment on her own terms.
Yuval Levin, AM’02, PhD’10
Nostalgia for simpler, more unified times on both sides of the aisle have left America’s two major political parties out of touch with how the country has diversified over the past half-century, argues Yuval Levin. The founder and editor of National Affairs, Levin advocates for embracing this splintering and allowing individual groups and communities to design policies that work for them.