A selection of books, films, and recordings by UChicago alumni.

Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs: The Simple Truth about Food, Weight, and Disease

By David A. Kessler, JD’78

America’s agricultural economy has produced a national diet built largely on what former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner David A. Kessler calls fast carbs—the rapidly digestible starches and sugars in processed foods. Kessler explains the science of fast carbs, arguing that they drive up appetites, disrupt normal metabolism, and contribute to high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Proposing healthier diets based on what he terms slow carbs, Kessler recommends legumes, nonstarchy and cruciferous vegetables, and certain grains.

Soviet Texts

Translated by Simon Schuchat, AB’75

Writer and visual artist Dmitri Alexandrovich Prigov (1940–2007) was an important figure in Soviet and post-Soviet culture and in the global avant-garde as a founder of the movement known as Moscow conceptualism. This collection, described by the publisher as the first representative selection in English of Prigov’s prose and poetry, includes short stories about heroes of Russia’s revolutionary period and poetic sequences regarded as cult classics of Prigov’s generation, such as “Image of Reagan in Soviet Literature.” Translator Simon Schuchat, a retired US diplomat who worked at the embassy in Moscow, describes Prigov as a major influence on Russian dissident artists like Pussy Riot and the Voina group.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

By Samira Ahmed, AB’93, MAT’93

Best-selling author Samira Ahmed’s latest young adult novel is the story of Khayyam Maquet, a Muslim American teen and aspiring art historian on a trip to Paris with her family. Khayyam is researching a series of Eugène Delacroix paintings based on an 1813 epic poem by the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” >Lord Byron. In The Giaour, Byron’s fictional narrative of a Turkish military leader, his concubine, and her Venetian lover, the woman is killed for her love affair without ever speaking a line. Ahmed’s protagonist helps uncover this forgotten heroine’s side of the story as she navigates her own multihyphenate identity.

Urban Counterpoint: The Piano Music of Ed Bland

Music composed by Ed Bland, EX’50

The late composer, arranger, and onetime filmmaker Ed Bland produced a body of solo piano works that combine Western classical music with African American and West African traditions. Performed by pianist and Bland collaborator Judith Olson, the selections on this album include the jazzy “Heat Seeking Missile,” the bluesy “Zone Blue,” and the gospel-inspired “Classical Soul.”>> When Olson began working with Bland in the 1990s to interpret these pieces, he described the latter as “[Charles] Ives meets Ray Charles.” Each track here reflects Bland’s aim to unite modernist experimentation with black vernacular style. (To read about Bland’s work as a filmmaker, see “Jazz as Cri Di Coeur,” Winter/20.)

Seeing by Electricity: The Emergence of Television, 1878–1939

By Doron Galili, PhD’11

The form of broadcast television that emerged in the 1930s had its origins in the Phantoscope, the Distant Seer, and other speculative 19th-century technologies for transmitting moving images, argues media archaeologist and Stockholm University researcher Doron Galili. Not long after the 1876 invention of the telephone, technicians and commentators alike began imagining the use of wires and electric signals to send and receive pictures as well as sound. When television’s first practical prototypes appeared in the 1920s, Galili shows, avant-garde artists like Dziga Vertov were ready to explore the medium’s potential to expand human perception.

Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance

By Laurence B. Siegel, AB’75, MBA’77

Our imminent future will see the centuries-long trend in the developed world toward greater wealth and well-being spread to the rest of the globe, argues finance and economics expert Laurence B. Siegel. As population growth everywhere levels off, pressures on the environment, the food supply, and living space will ease, putting more economic resources within reach of greater numbers of people. Siegel acknowledges that progress will face environmental and other challenges but contends that technology, innovation, and economic growth will provide solutions.

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