Arts & Culture

In print

Books by Yale authors

The Surrendered
Chang-rae Lee ’87
Riverhead Books/Penguin, $26.95

“The journey was nearly over.” So begins Lee’s fourth novel, a powerful story that opens in Korea at the start of the war in 1950. Of course, the journey is just beginning, and what a harrowing one it is. Lee follows the interlocking lives of an orphan named June Han and a ne’er-do-well American G.I. named Hector Brennan as they survive atrocities, failed relationships, a lengthy separation, and an eventual reunion 30 years later when June, terminally ill with cancer, enlists Brennan to help her find her estranged son—and a kind of redemption.

The Double Helix and the Law of Evidence
David H. Kaye ’72JD
Harvard University Press, $45

“The power of DNA technology to identify murderers, rapists, and robbers and to confirm or refute claims of parentage or other kinship is beyond dispute,” notes Kaye, a law professor at Penn State. But, as the infamous People v. Simpson case showed, the question of how to interpret such genetic evidence has been contentious. Kaye offers a weighty but readable assessment of the science and the courtroom battles.


Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul
G. Jeffrey MacDonald ’00MDiv
Basic Books, $25.95

Membership may be on the rise at many of the megachurches, but MacDonald, himself an ordained minister, is not convinced they’re moving their flocks in the right direction: toward the “envelope-pushing spirituality that Jesus models.” In this measured critique, MacDonald urges churches of all stripes to stop existing merely to “satisfy the wants of customers” and instead “serve the higher purpose of transforming what its customers want.” He profiles a number of churches that are achieving that goal.


Hitting the Brakes: Engineering Design and the Production of Knowledge
Ann Johnson ’90MFA
Duke University Press, $22.95

The first patents for the antilock braking systems found in most modern cars were issued in the 1930s, but the widespread adoption of ABS, which prevents skidding, is very recent. In this case study of ABS development, Johnson explores the way engineers work to translate ideas into products and why ABS was “easy to imagine, but . . . difficult to make.”


To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death
Suzanne E. Smith ’96PhD
Harvard University Press, $29.95

As awful as Jim Crow segregation was for blacks throughout the South, it actually helped many African American entrepreneurs. “The Negro people have always tried to surround the great mystery of death with appropriate and impressive ceremonies,” wrote Booker T. Washington, and in this fine history, Smith shows how African American funeral directors managed to prosper by serving their own communities. In time, these influential businessmen would help advance the cause of civil rights.


The Finger: A Handbook
Angus Trumble, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, Yale Center for British Art
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $25

The next time a road-raged motorist extends a middle finger in your direction, consider that this hostile gesture has a history going back at least to Greco-Roman antiquity. In this elegant and often amusing essay, art historian Trumble (a frequent writer for this magazine) relates the history of the bird—aka the digitus impudicus—and tales of other digits’ roles in paintings, sculptures, literature, and science.