Arts & Culture


America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960
Elizabeth Hinton, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies and Professor of Law
(Liveright/W. W. Norton, $29.95)
From Harlem in 1964, when cops killed a 15-year-old Black boy, to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, the uprisings that almost always follow deadly law enforcement actions have long been dismissed as mere riots. Think again, argues historian and legal scholar Hinton. “Black riots were, in fact, rebellions—political acts carried out in response to an unjust and repressive society,” she writes. Hinton examines the roots and legacies of “sustained insurgency” and suggests other paths to help build “a safer society and a stronger democracy.”

Gretchen Rubin ’89, ’94JD, and Elizabeth Craft, cohosts and creators
(a podcast available through Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.; free)
Feeling down? Tune in to Happier, a wise and uplifting weekly podcast by “self-helpful” happiness guru Rubin with Craft, her sidekick and sister (aka “the sage”). Since its debut in February 2015, the program, about a half hour long, has delivered continuing education, advice, and reinforcement on “how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).”

The Missing Hours: A Novel
Julia Dahl ’99  
(Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s, $25.99)
When an overprivileged minor celebrity named Claudia is raped by two of her NYU classmates, the young woman takes the law into her own hands. She wants to levy her own measure of vengeance upon her assaulters —all the more so because one has a rich and powerful father who could get them both exonerated—and she wants to stop them from posting the video they took of the rapes. She is aided and abetted by fellow frosh Trevor (“somehow, he sensed he could help”) who has naïve hopes that his actions, which include horrific facility with a baseball bat, might cement an unlikely relationship.

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive
Carl Zimmer ’87
(Dutton/Penguin Random House, $28) 
“The question of what it means to be alive has flowed through four centuries of scientific history like an underground river,” notes Zimmer, a distinguished science writer. But the fact that biologists couldn’t provide him with a hard-and-fast definition troubled him, and he set out to seek an answer. He visited the labs and field stations of scientists exploring “the hallmarks that all living things seem to have” and spoke with researchers studying “the foggy borderland between the living and nonliving.” He saw slime molds, bat caves, and brain organoids, and considered the possibility of life on other planets and the questions of when life begins on Earth and when it begins in the womb. The answer remains elusive. But the book is fascinating.

At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture and Design in the California Vineyards
Chase Reynolds Ewald ’85 and Heather Sandy Hebert
(Gibbs Smith, $50) 
From the Napa Valley to the Sonoma hills, California’s wine country is known for a signature lifestyle characterized, write the authors, by “a unique blending of agriculture and sophistication, lived outdoors amidst surroundings of prodigious beauty.” Authors Ewald and Hebert showcase 17 homes, ranging from “refined rustic to updated agrarian to unapologetically modern.”

2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything
Mauro F. Guillen ’92PhD
(St. Martin’s Press, $28.99).
“The world as we know it today will be gone by 2030,” writes Guillen, a Wharton researcher on the future state of business and now dean of the Cambridge Judge Business School in England. But he provides more than a “sky is falling” analysis of the impact of such seeming inevitabilities as climate change, the shift in the center of global consumption to Asia, the majority of wealth becoming owned by women, and other Western-world-shattering occurrences. The book is also a “tool to help navigate the epochal transformations ahead.”

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