Shelf Life

Tough Choices: A Memoir
Carly Fiorina, ’76

The ousted CEO of Hewlett-Packard debunks rumors, defends decisions, admits mistakes and candidly discusses her firing. Once pegged the most powerful woman in business, Fiorina started out as a law school dropout grateful for a receptionist’s job. Passion, perseverance and organizational savvy propelled her upward at AT&T, Lucent Technologies and HP, but in analyzing some of her toughest workplace battles, she observes: “No boss can force people to behave differently. . . . People operate based on their own free will.” Fiorina peppers her shop talk with revealing anecdotes and shows a sentimental side writing about family and friendships.

The Native Ground The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent
Kathleen DuVal, ’92
U. of Pennsylvania Press

A history professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, DuVal re-evaluates historical interpretations of Native American-European interactions, finding great interdependence in the history of the Arkansas Valley. She believes tribes in the region that would become the Louisiana Purchase retained sovereignty for much longer than is popularly thought.

The Starfish and the SpiderThe Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Ori Brafman, MBA ’01 and Rod A. Beckstrom, ’83, MBA ’87

Taking an analogy from nature—the self-repairing starfish—the authors explore the ability of decentralized organizations to maintain themselves in the face of competition from hierarchical organizations. The music industry’s frustration in stopping pirated music, the successes of Wikipedia and craigslist, and even the Spanish Army’s attack on the Apache illustrate the discussion.

Working-Class WhiteWorking-Class White: The Making and Unmaking of Race Relations
Monica McDermott
U. of California Press

McDermott, an assistant professor of sociology, undertook a yearlong study of white working-class neighborhoods in Atlanta and Boston. She worked as a convenience store clerk to gain firsthand perspective. McDermott describes “the polite façade that often characterizes black-white relations” and asserts that racism emerges in specific contexts, such as in discussions about crime or sex.

Letter to a Christian NationLetter to a Christian Nation
Sam Harris, ’89

As author of the surprise bestseller The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Harris received many letters rife with “faith-based irrationality.” In answer, he examines America’s predisposition to Christian conservative doctrine. Harris deconstructs beliefs that he views as fundamentally flawed and considers “objective sources of moral order that do not require the existence of a lawgiving God.”

Evolution and Christian FaithEvolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist
Joan Roughgarden
Island Press

Roughgarden, a professor of biological sciences and of geophysics, examines the common ground that can be occupied by Christians and Darwinists. She combines a concise explanation of evolution and some close reading of the Bible to show how science can dovetail with “a Christian view of nature.”

The Mephisto ClubThe Mephisto Club
Tess Gerritsen, ’75
Ballantine Books

Gerritsen, an anthropology major at Stanford and later a physician, interlaces grisly contemporary murders with ancient stories about fallen angels who mated with mortal women and produced a subspecies of evildoers. It’s her sixth thriller featuring Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and police detective Jane Rizzoli.

Augusta LockeAugusta Locke
William Haywood Henderson

Wyoming takes stage center in this third novel by Henderson, a former Stegner fellow. “Alone in the granite scoop of Bomber Basic, together on a soft patch of alpine sedges,” it begins, and afternoon sunlight, nesting finches, silky scorpionweed and granite slabs grow more tangible page by evocative page. Augusta “Gussie” Locke runs away from home in the 1920s, the first of many times she’ll bolt during her vivid life on the frontier.

Browns GuideBrown’s Guide to the Good Life Without Tears, Fears or Boredom
David Brown, ’36
Barricade Books

The Hollywood (Jaws) and Broadway (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) producer sprinkles tales from his colorful show-biz career and his marriage to legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown into these short essays about manners, expertise, friendship and other aspects of living well. Success means having “enough money not to have to do what you loathe.”