Books, Music & Film

July/August 2016

Reading time min

Books, Music & Film


And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East, RICHARD ENGEL, ’96; Simon & Schuster, $27. 
In 1996, Richard Engel was a Stanford senior with dreams of covering the “story of my generation”—which he figured meant either China or the Middle East. Two weeks after graduation, he was in Cairo with $2,000 and plenty of hustle. Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, discusses a life spent covering constant conflict, often at astonishing personal risk. His 2012 kidnapping in Syria and rescue in a deadly firefight left him bearing the fingerprints of post-traumatic stress, he says, but trauma is the price of playing the game. It’s a thrilling ride mixed with sobering analysis of the missteps by the Bush and Obama administrations, fueling the conflagrations. “Simply put,” he writes, “no Iraq war, no ISIS.”

Cold San Francisco

I shall meet you again in cold San Francisco
On the hillside street overlooking the bay.
We shall go to the house where we buried the years,
Where the door is locked, and we haven’t a key.
We’ll pause on the steps as the fog burns away,
And the chill waves shimmer in the sun’s dim glow,
And we’ll gaze down the hill at the bustling piers
Where the gulls shout their hymns to being alive,
And the high-masted boats that we never sailed
Stand poised to explore the innocent blue.
I shall speak your name like a foreign word,
Uncertain what it means, and you—
What will you say in that salt-heavy air
On that bright afternoon that will never arrive?

—DANA GIOIA, ’73, MBA ’77, in 99 Poems: New & Selected; Graywolf Press, $24.

The Crown’s Game, EVELYN SKYE (HSU), ’01; Balzer & Bray, $17.99. Set in Imperial Russia, this historical fantasy follows two teenagers who wield magical skills in a competition to become the tsar’s adviser. Only one of them will win the prized position as Imperial Enchanter; the other will face death. When romance arrives to complicate things, it adds its own kind of magic—and a deliciously tense undercurrent of danger.

Wilderness to Wasteland, DAVID T. HANSON, ’70; Taverner Press, $55. Hanson’s powerfully evocative photo series shows copper mines, power plants at night and the remnants of a dying former nuclear boomtown—a testament to industrial and military projects’ lasting effects on the land. In many of the scenes he’s captured, the only element untouched by industry or humanity is the clear blue sky.

“For centuries before Afghans became the world’s largest refugee community in the 1980s, they were on the move across the globe.” 

—ROBERT D. CREWS, associate professor of history, in Afghan Modern; Harvard University Press, $29.95.

Wisdom from a Chair: Thirty Years of Quadriplegia, Andrew I. Batavia, MS ’84, and Mitchell Batavia;, $19.95. The family of Andrew Batavia, who helped write the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), came across his nearly finished memoir 12 years after his death; his brother, Mitchell, completed and published the book. Batavia draws a candid picture of his life following the car accident that ended his mobility at age 16, and shows how his journey with quadriplegia led him to become a passionate civil rights advocate.

The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction, HENRY T. GREELY, ’74; Harvard University Press, $35. Within a generation or two, law professor Greely says, intercourse for the purpose of procreation could be obsolete. Gametes made from skin cells will be combined in vitro and the embryos’ DNA analyzed; parents will be able to make à priori decisions about their offspring’s traits. Greely’s aim is to spark conversations about how society should deal with the previously inconceivable possibilities.

Playing with Tigers: A Minor League Chronicle of the Sixties, George Gmelch, ’68; University of Nebraska Press, $26.95. Gmelch takes a fond but also a critical look back at his experiences as a minor league baseball player in a turbulent era. The young man from San Mateo had his eyes opened (and his heart bruised) as he lived, toured and played in the South and elsewhere. Gmelch, now an anthropologist, writes with such detail that 50-year-old events read like they happened yesterday.

Gender Nonconformity and the Law, KIMBERLY A. YURACKO, ’91, MA ’94, PhD ’97, JD ’98; Yale University Press, $85Case law governing gender discrimination in the workplace is muddled. As the scope of protection expands from one’s sex to include the expression of gender identity, an unintended effect is the hardening of gender expectations for everyone, argues Yuracko. Her book offers a scholarly but accessible look at how a developing body of law is poised—likely negatively—to affect workplace freedom, sex equality and gender fluidity.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific, BILL LASCHER; William Morrow, $26.99. Years ago, Lascher’s grandmother gave him a typewriter that had once belonged to her cousin Melville Jacoby, ’38, MA ’39. Thus began a quest to decode letters and artifacts telling of Jacoby’s work as a news correspondent in Asia; his partnership with fellow Stanford Daily journalist Annalee Whitmore (Jacoby Fadiman), ’37; and their journey to safety during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.


Sharing the Work: What My Family and Career Taught Me About Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others), Myra Strober; MIT Press, $29.95.
A noted labor economist who broke down boundaries for women in the workforce, in the economics profession, in academia and at Stanford, Strober reflects on the interplay among her personal life, her faith and her career as she rose to become a professor at the Graduate School of Education and a professor of economics at the GSB (by courtesy). Her memoir names names—who supported her as well as who interfered with her advancement—and imparts wisdom, both economic and spiritual. The upshot? Yes, you can have a demanding career and a rewarding family life. The key is finding the right partner.

The following did not appear in the print version of Stanford.

Monkey-Town, CARRIE CHANG, ’92, MA ’93; self-published, $19.99. 
Chang celebrates the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of San Francisco’s Chinatown while following heroine Jenna Wu on her fantasy-thriller search for enlightenment.

Indian Given: Racial Geographies Across Mexico and the United States, MARÍA JOSEFINA SALDAÑA-PORTILLO, PHD ’94; Duke University Press, $26.95. Saldaña-Portillo explores how Chicanos confront their indigenous background based on their location in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Drawing on historical, literary and legal texts, the NYU associate professor investigates the legacy of Spanish and British colonization, and how their approaches to indigenous peoples continue to shape current cultural and racial encounters in the U.S. and Mexico.

Growing Pains: Building Sustainably Successful Organizations, ERIC G. FLAMHOLTZ, YVONNE RANDLE, ’80; Jossey-Bass, $55. In its fifth edition, this classic reference book for understanding organizational success and failure spotlights all stages of company growth, from start-up to transition to well-established company, and offers three frameworks of organizational efficiency and transitions.

Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World, AMIR ALEXANDER, MA ’90, PHD ’96; Scientific American/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $16. Alexander, an award-winning historian, probes the history of a controversial mathematical theory: that a continuous line can be broken down into distinct, infinitely tiny parts. Forbidden by the Jesuits but embraced by scientists and mathematicians, the ensuing ideological struggle had implications for the 17th-century’s science and culture and our own.

Elusive Alliance: The German Occupation of Poland in World War I, JESSE KAUFFMAN, MA ’02, PHD ’08; Harvard University Press, $35. The German occupation of Poland from 1915-1918, led by commander Hans Hartwig von Beseler, was focused on stabilizing the country, tamping down resistance by founding schools, reforming the education system and creating democratic municipal governments. Kauffman explores the failure of these efforts, the strength of the Polish independence movement, and the lead-up to a second, more brutal occupation under the Nazis.

Unusual Punishment: Inside the Walla Walla Prison, CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, ’70; Washington State University Press, $22.95. The penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington, was notorious for its brutal practices, tyrannical warden and use of “super custody,” but when reformers tried to improve conditions, chaos ensued. Murray, whose consulting firm works with prisons, documents the bumpy transformation from an authoritarian state to modern correctional system.

Mediterranean Sea: How a Man, a Woman, and a Dog Spent Eight Summers Exploring the Ancient Sea in a Small Boat, KAREN HEATH CLARK, ’66;, $17.95. Clark’s memoir details the eight-year Mediterranean boating adventure she undertook with her husband, Bruce, and their dog, Roka, describing the amazing sights and experiences as well as the fears and frustrations of living on a boat in foreign waters. She includes a blueprint for planning a similar adventure, with practical advice and information on costs, preparations and must-see destinations.

Where Have All the Animals Gone?: My Travels with Karl Ammann, DALE PETERSON, MA ’69, PHD ’77; Bauhan Publishing, $22.50. In this memoir, Peterson describes his travels with photographer Karl Ammann, exploring the bushmeat trade, the Southeast Asian ivory markets and Ammann’s search for wild giraffes in Africa. Throughout their travels, the pair observe with trepidation what Ammann calls “the end of the wild.”

La Ronde, TOWNSEND WALKER, PHD ’76; Truth Serum Press, $12.95. Walker’s fiction career started after a Continuing Studies course at Stanford. Now, in his debut novel, a Park Avenue woman puts a price on her husband’s head; from there, the action swings from New Jersey to Los Angeles and back again, dissecting relationships along the way.

Aristocrats of the Spirit: Real Heroes in Life, E.E. HUNT, ’56, MA ’65; Xlibris, $19.99. Hunt, an Episcopal priest, wrote this memoir as a celebration of “aristocrats of the spirit”—people “who influenced others for good.” He reminisces on figures from early childhood, from his 55 years of ministry and his retirement that proved themselves “everyday heroes and heroines” through their goodness and endurance of personal struggles.

Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress: The Lawmakers, CRAIG VOLDEN, ’92, PHD ’96, ALAN E. WISEMAN, MA ’91, PHD ’01; Cambridge University Press, $29.99. Exploring why some members of Congress are more effective than others and what this means about the policies they produce, Volden and Wiseman present a new metric to demonstrate legislator effectiveness. With these new scores, they analyze party influence, the successes or failures of women and African-American representatives, and policy gridlock in Congress.

How Would You Like to Pay?: How Technology Is Changing the Future of Money, BILL MAURER, MA ’90, PHD ’94; Duke University Press, $17. Paper money and coins have been around for three millennia, but with the rise of virtual payment methods like Bitcoin and Apple Pay, its future is in doubt. Anthropologist Maurer explores the history of money and the social infrastructures and relationships it needs to survive, probing a future in which how we pay may reveal how we live.

Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide, DIANE M. NELSON, MA ’92, PHD ’96; Duke University Press, $25.95. Numbers have a social life, and Nelson analyzes it in full, demonstrating the role math plays in Guatemalan state violence, Mayan revitalization, and the colonization of indigenous peoples, all while musing on what it means “to count—both numerically and in the sense of having value.”

Admit One: An American Scrapbook, MARTHA COLLINS, ’62; University of Pittsburgh Press, $15.95. Through fragments of newspapers, quotations, narrative passages and lyrics, Collins’ poetry follows the thread of American racism as it stretches from the 1904 St. Louis World Fair to the eugenics movement, pausing on chilling images of the “‘exhibited’ African Ota Benga” and forcibly sterilized Carrie Buck, demonstrating the historical and current power of racism.

Envisioning Criminology: Researchers on Research as a Process of Discovery, MICHAEL D. MALTZ, MS ’61, PHD ’63, and STEPHEN K. RICE, editors; Springer, $69.99. In research, the researchers’ backstories are just as important as the research itself—why certain problems are selected, how those problems approached, and how training and experience affect that approach. Taking in the full picture, contributors suggest, allows for a more nuanced judgment on the research itself and how to improve processes in the future.

Picturing Corporate Practice, JAY A. MITCHELL, ’80; West Academic Publishing, $48. A product of Mitchell’s collaboration across multiple generations of Stanford grads, Picturing Corporate Practice encourages law practices to engage in visual thinking and reflects this emphasis in its own design—set up in landscape format, using large amounts of white space and including over fifty diagrams and visual aids.

Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design, BARRY M. KATZ; MIT Press, $29.95. Katz, a consulting professor in the design group of the department of mechanical engineering, emphasizes the importance of design in Silicon Valley’s innovative success, tracing the origins of its role from packaging electronics to becoming a driving force in some of the world’s most influential companies.

All the Rage: A Quest, MARTIN MORAN, ’82; Beacon Press, $24.95. Based on his one-man play of the same name, All the Rage follows Moran’s journey to find his anger at being sexually abused as a child and his exploration into the definition and purpose of rage, taking him from familial confrontations to getting lost in Africa in search of the connection between rage and compassion, justice and mercy.

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