The Books Issue


Calligraphy by Gregory MacNaughton ’89

Our obsession with the written word has never been stronger. From the art of swindling to the letters of Cicero, Reed authors are burning the midnight oil.

By Chris Lygate ’90
December 2012, Reed magazine

Reed cover, December 2012
Illustration by Janice Wu

Last month, Reed’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program hosted a national conference whose title, The Crisis of the Book, neatly captures the popular notion that the publishing industry is in a hopeless muddle.

But in our view, the subtitle of the conference—Worlds of Opportunity, Worlds of Change—is a more perceptive observation, if the prodigious output of Reed writers is any guide. Reedies have published more than 100 books this year alone, and show no sign of slowing down. In fact, the Hauser Library currently owns 5,373 books and articles by (or about) Reedies and Reed professors, a catalogue that is doubtless incomplete.

In this, our first books issue, we sought to convey the depth of this monumental literary landscape. We invite you to take a peek at the anthropology of magic, explore the art of the swindle, and find out how the Dutch lost Taiwan. 

Venture into the philosophy of history with Marvin Levich [philosophy 1953–94], meet a brilliant Soviet exile with Lena Lencek [Russian 1977–], and rediscover a long-lost manuscript of Lloyd Reynolds [English and art 1929–69].

From the diaries of Doris Bailey Murphy ’38 to the poems of Lew Welch ’51, Reed writers show that no force—not even death—is stronger than their love for words.

Graham Jones

The Disappearing Trick

Anthropologist Graham Jones ’97 reveals how magicians guard their craft in the internet age.

Amy Reading


Historian Amy Reading ’98 recounts a provocative tale of chicanery, vengeance, and the art of swindling.

Peter Zuckerman


Peter Zuckerman ’03 brings us the story of the sherpas who survived K2's greatest climbing disaster.

Tonio Andrade

How the Dutch Lost Taiwan

Tonio Andrade ’92 examines China’s first great military victory over the West.

Jan Powell

The Battle of the Bard

Jan Powell MALS ’86 says literary editors have diluted Shakespeare’s fury.

Lena Lencek

The Uncharted Geography of Lena

Chekhov, Odysseus, Frankenstein, swimsuits—you just never know what Professor Lena Lenček will be writing about next.

Lloyd Reynolds

Rediscovering Lloyd Reynolds

A long-lost calligraphy manual of Lloyd Reynolds is finally published.

Many of the books featured here can be purchased at the Reed Bookstore.