The English Breakfast: The Biography of a National Meal, with Recipes, by Kaori O’Connor ’68 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013). One of the best-loved national meals in the world, and an edible symbol of England and Englishness, the English breakfast is investigated in detail by Kaori, who provides historical analysis, a look at the meal in its present state, and, in the epilogue, she looks at the “devolved” breakfast in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Kaori includes nearly 500 recipes by three celebrated culinary figures of the Victorian age: an elite hostess, a thrifty housekeeper, and a pukka colonial colonel. “Mixing anthropology, cultural biography, the invention of tradition and the study of cookbooks as social documents, The English Breakfast is a truly unique work of food history.”
Pineapple: A Global History, by Kaori O’Connor ’68 (University of Chicago, 2013). From the moment Christopher Columbus discovered it on a Caribbean island in 1493, the pineapple has seduced the world, becoming an object of passion and desire. Beloved by George Washington, a favorite of kings and aristocrats, the pineapple quickly achieved an elite status among fruits that it retains today. Kaori tells the story of this culinary romance in Pineapple, an intriguing history of this luscious fruit. The pineapple was the ultimate status symbol, she reveals—London society hostesses would even pay extravagantly to rent a pineapple for a single evening to be the centerpiece of a party. She also illustrates how canning processes—and the discovery of the pineapple’s ideal home in Hawaii—have made it available and affordable throughout the year. Pineapple is also packed with vivid illustrations and irresistible recipes from around the world.
Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949–62, by Katherine Verdery ’70 and Gail Kligman ’71 (Princeton University Press, 2011). In 1949, Romania’s fledgling communist regime unleashed a radical and brutal campaign to collectivize agriculture in this largely agrarian country, following the Soviet model. Peasants under Siege provides the first comprehensive look at the far-reaching social engineering process that ensued. In the book, Katherine and Gail examine how collectivization assaulted the very foundations of rural life, transforming village communities that were organized around kinship and status hierarchies into segments of large bureaucratic organizations, forged by the language of “class warfare” yet saturated with vindictive personal struggles. Collectivization not only overturned property relations, the authors argue, but was crucial in creating the party-state that emerged, its mechanisms of rule, and the “new persons” that were its subjects. Drawing on archival documents, oral histories, and ethnographic data, Peasants under Siege sheds new light on collectivization in the Soviet era and on the complex tensions underlying and constraining political authority.
Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania’s Secret Police, by Katherine Verdery ’70 (Central European University Press, 2013). Nothing in Soviet-style communism was as shrouded in mystery as its secret police. With the end of communism, many of the newly established governments—among them Romania’s—opened their secret police archives. From those files, especially Katherine’s own voluminous one, as well as her personal memories and interviews with acquaintances who turned out to be informers, Katherine has carried out historical ethnography of the Romanian Securitate. Secrets and Truths is not only of historical interest but has implications for understanding the rapidly developing “security state” of the neoliberal present.
An Insider’s Guide To Publishing, by David Comfort ’71 (Writer’s Digest Books, 2013). David’s newest book is a long-overdue self-helper for the million midlist, backlist, and no-list writers still waiting for deliverance by a survival manual based not on Publishers Clearing House you-too-can-be-a millionaire-novelist! fiction, but on the sobering realities of an overpopulated, hypercompetitive, bestseller-driven profession which is marginalizing literary novelists and editors. This publishing exposé is based not only on the author’s 30 years in the industry, but on the observations and advice of top editors, agents, and literary scholars. Most importantly, it reveals the publishing trials and tribulations of historic and current authors—from Hemingway to Harper Lee to Roth to J.K. Rowling. Excerpts from the title appear in Pleiades, the Montreal Review, the Stanford Arts Review, InDigest, Writing Disorder, Eyeshot, Glasschord, Line Zero, and Johns Hopkins’ T.J. Eckleburg Review.
The Papers of Andrew Jackson, Volume IX: 1831, by Dan Feller ’72, editor-in-chief (University of Tennessee Press, 2013). This volume presents more than 500 original documents, many newly discovered, from Andrew Jackson’s third presidential year. They include his private memoranda, intimate family letters, and correspondence with government and military officers, diplomats, Indians, political friends and foes, and citizens throughout the country. From clearing the cabinet to pursuing Indian tribes west of the Mississippi, Jackson’s third presidential year was marked with strife, winding down in time for his reelection campaign. Volume IX offers an incomparable window not only into Andrew Jackson and his presidency, but also into America itself in 1831. Dan is editor and director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson and professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Modern Cinderella, by Thomas Owen ’73 (CreateSpace, 2013). A fan of Sherlock Holmes for as long as he can remember, Thomas has given the master detective a mystery to solve that is outside his realm: uncovering the identity of a mysterious woman who attended the prince’s masked ball. Assisted by Dr. Watson, Holmes seeks to unlock the secrets behind one of England’s wealthiest families in this modern-day rendition of an ancient and well-loved tale. Thomas is the owner of Lazy River Books in Boston, Massachusetts, and will be pleased to receive feedback by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on his new book.
The Curse of Van Gogh, by Paul Hoppe ’76 (SparkPress, 2014). In his first novel, Paul introduces readers to Tyler Sears, newly released from a federal prison and steering clear of crime while working as a bartender in New York City. Sears’ simple life is challenged one day when an invitation to the season’s hottest art event arrives and leads him to famed art collector Komate Imasu. Learning of Imasu’s threats to his family, Sears decides to gamble, and ups the ante to a breathtaking level. He plunges headfirst into a world of art forgers, hit men, Yakuza, a femme fatale named Chanel N°5, and the hideous curse of Van Gogh, in order to pull off the greatest art heist in history.
Beyond Post-Traumatic Stress: Homefront Struggles with the Wars on Terror, by Sally Hautzinger ’85 (Left Coast Press, 2014). When soldiers at Fort Carson were charged with a series of 14 murders, posttraumatic stress disorder and other “invisible wounds of war” were thrown into the national spotlight. Sally, who is an associate professor of anthropology at Colorado College, and coauthor Jean Scandlyn argue for a new approach to combat stress and trauma, seeing them not just as individual, medical pathologies, but also as fundamentally collective cultural phenomena. Their deep ethnographic research, including unusual access to affected soldiers at Fort Carson, also engaged an extended labyrinth of friends, family, communities, military culture, social services, bureaucracies, the media, and many other layers of society. Through this profound and moving book, they insist that invisible combat injuries are a social challenge demanding collective reconciliation with the post-9/11 wars.
The article “Clinging to Each Other, We Survived the Storm,” by Monica Wesolowska ’89, was published in the Modern Love section of the New York Times in February 2014. Monica teaches fiction writing at UC Berkeley. She and her husband, David Fisher, have two sons, Miles, 8, and Ivan, 6. Her book chronicling the life of their first son, Holding Silvan: A Brief Life, was published in 2013 and reviewed for Reed by Prof. Lena Lencek [Russian 1977–], Monica’s thesis adviser, in March 2013.
Pirate Politics: The New Information Policy Contests, by Patrick Burkart ’91 (MIT Press, 2014). In 2006, a group of software programmers and file-sharing geeks protested the police takedown of the Pirate Bay, a Swedish file-sharing search engine. The Swedish Pirate Party, and later the German Pirate Party, came to be identified with a “free culture” message that came into conflict with the European Union’s legal system. In his book, Patrick argues that pirate politics can be seen as “cultural environmentalism,” a defense of internet culture against both corporate and state colonization. He links the Pirate movement to the Green movement, arguing that they share a moral consciousness and an explicit ecological agenda based on the notion of a commons, or public domain. Patrick is an associate professor in communication at Texas A&M University.
Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living, by Domyo Sater Burke ’93 (ALPHA, 2014). In order to obtain the benefits from Zen practice, one needs to understand what it is and how to change thinking and actions to achieve it. In this book, Zen monk and sensei Domyo offers a beginning path to enlightenment and peace, which is open to all individuals. She provides an introduction to what Zen is—and what it isn’t—a foundation for how to get started in Zen practice, explanations of the essential teachings of Zen, and step-by-step instructions for engaging in Zazen meditation.
Mediating the Global: Expatria’s Forms and Consequences in Kathmandu, by Heather Hindman ’93 (Stanford University Press, 2013). Transnational business people, international aid workers, and diplomats are all actors on the international stage working for organizations and groups often scrutinized by the public eye. With 20 years of research experience in Nepal, Heather looks at the complex role that global middlemen and women play in this country. Described as an “illuminating exploration of the lives and cultural space occupied by expatriates operating within the global development regime,” Mediating the Global reveals the day-to-day experiences of elite foreign workers and their families.
Silence in Catullus, by Ben Stevens ’98 (University of Wisconsin Press, December 2013). Passionate and artful, learned and bawdy, Catullus is one of the best-known and most critically significant poets from classical antiquity. An intriguing aspect of his poetry that has been neglected by scholars is his interest in silence, from the pauses that shape everyday conversation to linguistic taboos and cultural suppressions and the absolute silence of death. In Silence in Catullus, Ben offers fresh readings of this Roman poet’s most important works, focusing on his purposeful evocations of silence. This deep and varied “poetics of silence” takes on many forms in Catullus’ poetic corpus: underscoring the lyricism of his poetry; highlighting themes of desire, immortality-in-culture, and decay; accenting its structures and rhythms; and, Ben suggests, even articulating underlying philosophies. Combining classical philological methods, contemporary approaches to silence in modern literature, and the most recent Catullan scholarship, this imaginative examination of Catullus offers a new interpretation of one of the ancient world’s most influential and inimitable voices.
Field Experiments and Their Critics: Essays on the Uses and Abuses of Experimentation in the Social Sciences, by Dawn Teele ’06, editor (Yale University Press, 2014). From David Hume and John Stuart Mill to Max Weber and Émile Durkheim, social scientists have always argued about which tools are most appropriate for analyzing the complexities of economic, political, and social life. In recent years, proponents of “experimental” methods have entered this age-old debate. The growing group of experimentalists insists that the best way to identify relationships of cause and effect in the social world is through randomized interventions. Importantly, they move beyond the inferential limitations imposed by laboratory environments by taking experiments out into the field, testing subjects enmeshed in their everyday lives. But not everyone is convinced that field experiments are indeed supreme. Critics claim that these real-world interventions involve logical inconsistencies, impose excessive constraints, and raise ethical dilemmas avoided by the tried and true tools of observational research. This volume frames and interrogates the great debate by presenting the contrasting views of influential researchers in politics, economics, and statistics. Dawn is a research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a PhD candidate in political science at Yale.
Ein Self: Early Meditations, by Emily Aviva Kapor ’07 (Vatichtov Press, 2014). The book is a collection of essays, poetry, and translation, which Emily wrote during the first year and a half of her gender transition. Subjects range from gender to sexuality to Jewish rituals to Transgender Day of Remembrance to autism and love. The book’s title, she says, is a play on the phrase Ein Sof, a Kabbalistic name for the divine: “endless.” “This reflects a dual theme: firstly, that my transition is not something I feel I will ever ‘complete’ or ‘be done with,’ but something that I will be carrying with me for the rest of my life, and secondly, that a crucial component of transition for me has been seeking out the ineffably beautiful qualities of my own existence, the ein sof of myself—my ein self.” (See Class Notes.)