(Collage by Joy Olivia Miller)


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

Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem

Carol Delaney, AM’78, PhD’84

Arguing against contemporary anticolonialist perspectives that Christopher Columbus was a greedy imperialist and glory hunter, Stanford University professor emerita Carol Delaney writes that he was in fact trying to help fund a religious crusade to take Jerusalem from the Muslims. Placing Columbus in the political and religious context of the 15th century, Delaney says he believed that he was destined to participate in this fight.

The Secret Lives of Dresses

Erin McKean, AB’93, AM’93

In her first novel, Erin McKean, a lexicographer and founder of the website Wordnik.com, tells the coming-of-age story of Dora Winston, a college student who returns home to run her sick grandmother’s vintage-clothing store. Dora has to fight greedy relatives and her own conflicting emotions to preserve the spirit of her grandmother’s shop, a mission that gives purpose to her aimless life.

Pieter Bruegel

Larry Silver, AB’69

In 2010 a lost painting by 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder was rediscovered in a collector’s home in Spain. With this discovery in mind, Larry Silver, a University of Pennsylvania art-history professor, examines Bruegel’s oeuvre—his humorous scenes of peasants and landscapes as well as his religious interpretations. In his book, Silver analyzes Bruegel’s work through a historical lens; while the painter was practicing his art for two decades in Antwerp, Europe’s emerging capital of capitalism, the region was also experiencing religious turmoil.

What’s Next? Unconventional Wisdom on the Future of the World Economy

Lyric Hughes-Hale, AB’76

More than 20 independent economists and analysts project what will happen in the world’s major economies—the United States, Australia, South Africa, China—over the next five years in these turbulent times. The writers explore social and political factors, such as geopolitics and tax policies, in addition to statistical forecasts.

Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little

Christopher Johnson, AB’87

Well before Twitter, poets, ad copywriters, and political spinners knew what branding consultant Christopher Johnson discusses here: some of the most important messages are also the shortest. Johnson examines why minimessages hit and miss, discusses the tools that make them memorable, and explores the evolution of mass media into more personal forms of communication.

The Wilshire Sun

Joshua Baldwin, AB’06

An underachieving but aspiring young writer from Brooklyn moves to Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. Joshua Baldwin’s debut novella, which uses storytelling elements from epistolary exchanges to stream-of-consciousness rants about Walt Whitman and absent grandparents, explores the Hollywood dream and the narrator’s psychological deterioration.

Federal Fathers and Mothers: A Social History of the United States Indian Service, 1869–1933

Cathleen Cahill, AM’96, PhD’04

The United States Indian Service (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs), created in 1824, was responsible for managing trust obligations to American Indians, but it also sought to integrate them into US social and political systems. Cathleen Cahill studies the agency during the height of its assimilation efforts, which attempted to use employees as surrogate parents to make Native Americans comfortable with the US government.

Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation

Sujatha Fernandes, AM’00, PhD’03

Part memoir, part academic study, Sujatha Fernandes’s book covers youth street-culture movements from Sydney to Havana to Chicago. She works to understand the global hip-hop scene—including rapping, deejaying, beat making, and graffiti—the art incited by anger toward dispossession, racism, and poverty.

Sweet Stuff: An American History of Sweeteners from Sugar to Sucralose

Deborah Jean Warner, AB’62

The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year—not including artificial sweeteners. Deborah Jean Warner, curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, details the science and technology, business and labor, and politics and popular culture of the products that have been central to American life since colonial times.