Kurt Elling. (Photography by Anna Webber)
The Magazine lists a selection of general-interest books, films, and albums by alumni. For additional alumni releases, browse the Magazine’s Goodreads bookshelf.

Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese

Marina Belozerskaya, AM’92, PhD’97 Author A masterpiece of classical antiquity, the Tazza Farnese has a tangled past. A libation bowl carved from banded agate, its interior shows an assembly of Egyptian gods, while an image of Medusa’s head glares out from the bowl’s exterior. Dating to Ptolemaic Egypt, where it belonged to Cleopatra, the Tazza Farnese traveled to Rome and Constantinople and the Holy Roman Emperor’s court at Palermo; it was there for the aftermath of the French Revolution and at the birth of the modern Italian state. Medusa’s Gaze traces the bowl’s journey through history, in and out of the hands of Roman, Byzantine, and Mongol rulers; popes and duchesses and Renaissance artists; spies and thieves and crusaders. Finally the Tazza Farnese made its way to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, where a deranged guard nearly destroyed it.  

Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America

Joan Wehlen Morrison, U-High’40, AB’44 Author Chicago schoolgirl Joan Wehlen was 14 in 1937 when she began keeping a journal. Smart, funny, and with an eye for detail, she recorded events from her daily life—friends, classes, movies, books, boys—and thoughts about the world around her, ruminating on the Great Depression and FDR’s fireside chats, the Lindbergh kidnapping, Pearl Harbor, and the lead-up to World War II. She kept the diary until 1943. After her death in 2010, it was discovered by her daughter, Susan Signe Morrison, who edited the collection, which also includes poems, sketches, and photos from the time.  

Europe and the Islamic World: A History

John Tolan, AM’86, PhD’90; Gilles Veinstein; and Henry Laurens Authors Politicians and reporters characterize the relationship between Islam and the West as a clash of civilizations, but historian Tolan and his coauthors argue that this narrative is too simplistic. Covering 15 centuries of  shared roots—and coexistence, competition, and cooperation—the authors offer a richer and more complex exploration of the historical, political, and economic causes of today’s conflicts.  

Mariposa’s Song: A Novel

Peter LaSalle, AM’72 Author Offering insight into the lives of undocumented workers and the difficult choices they face, LaSalle tells the story of Mariposa, a 22-year-old from Honduras living in the United States illegally. Serving drinks and dancing with customers in a shabby nightclub in Austin, Texas, she meets an out-of-towner named Bill and learns that even far from the border, there are dangers greater than drug traffickers and immigration police.  

Practicing Military Anthropology: Beyond Expectations and Traditional Boundaries

Robert A. Rubenstein, Kerry Fosher, and Clementine Fujimura, AM’87, PhD’93 Editors The relationship between anthropologists and the US military is often controversial, especially regarding the Human Terrain System, an army-led initiative to embed anthropologists with military operations in Iraq and Afganistan. In heated discussions in academic journals and conferences, military anthropologists have been called unethical and unprofessional, accused of being war criminals and spies. A professor of anthropology at the US Naval Academy, Fujimura and her coeditors offer personal accounts from anthropologists who have worked with the military or teach in military service academies. They argue that the discipline’s links to the armed services are complex and multifaceted, defying reductionist critiques and easy assumptions.  

Something New

Thomas Flippin, AB’05 Performer In his debut album, classical guitarist and composer Flippin draws influences from dreams, the post-9/11 world’s “endless war,” and his peripatetic American upbringing. Also featuring works by Haitian guitarist Frantz Casseus and selections by Cuban guitarist Leo Brouwer and Catalan pianist Federico Mompou, the album is by turns contemplative, playful, and dark.  

1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project

Kurt Elling, X’92 Performer The title of jazz singer Elling’s most recent album refers to the Manhattan office building where songwriters churned out some of the most popular tunes in American music, from the Big Band era to rock ‘n’ roll.  Elling offers up 11 of them—“Come Fly with Me,” “An American Tune,” and “Tutti for Cootie” among them—reimagining harmonies and reinterpreting melodies in his baritone-to-tenor voice.