Shelf Life

Global City Blues
Daniel Solomon, ’62
Island Press, 2003
$24

The influential architect and Berkeley emeritus professor documents and bemoans the isolating effect of modernism on the world’s cities. What makes cities livable and enriching, he argues, is pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods comprising diverse people and functions. But a whole generation of architects and town planners bent on urban renewal created “soul-numbing environments of business parks, freeway commuting, and walled residential enclaves where everybody is the same age, color, and tax bracket.” Solomon is instrumental in the New Urbanism movement working to redress the damage, and he presents some model projects.

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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil
Peter Stansky
Yale U. Press, 2003
$35

In this well-illustrated biography, Stanford history professor Stansky delves into the opulent, highly cultured lives of Philip Sassoon (1888-1929) and his sister, Sybil (1894-1989). Although Philip, a legendary host, was prominent in British politics and the arts, and the siblings counted royalty, prime ministers, and world-renowned painters and musicians among their friends, the author shows how the family’s Jewish-Baghdadi roots sometimes cooled English attitudes toward them.

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More Thoughts While Walking the Dog
Lynn Ruth Miller, MA ’64
excentrix press, 2003
$15

In this sequel book of essays, Miller continues mining her diverse friendships and experiences—teaching in a Boston slum, matchmaking for a California dating service, living hand to mouth in a mobile home, running community art programs, penning newspaper columns—to create parables with a humorous edge. Turning hardship into triumph is the principal theme; it’s the story of her life.

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Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader
ed. Robert S. Levine, MA ’77, PhD ’81
U. of North Carolina Press, 2003
$24.95

An important figure in 19th-century American debates about race, Delany is little known today, often pegged as a vitriolic black supremacist. Levine paints a more complete picture, using rare documents to show the complexity of this physician, newspaper editor, explorer, novelist, Army officer, abolitionist and political theorist who has been called the father of black nationalism.

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Assumption and Other Stories
Daniel Olivas, ’81
Bilingual Press, 2003
$11

Olivas, a lawyer with the California Department of Justice, seems uniformly at home writing about schoolboys confronting a priest’s suicide, a lesbian lawyer coming out to her parents, or a TV announcer tired of trading on his ethnicity for ratings. His protagonists may all be Latinos living in Southern California, but their eclectic situations defy stereotyping.

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ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise, the Path to True Fitness
M. Marinovich, E. Haus, Ronda Spinak, ’80, and A.D. Ross
HarperResource, 2003
$25.95

Big muscles don’t equal fitness, the authors argue, and the national preoccupation with working out is misplaced. Based on experience with athletes, their program addresses every body part and promises to improve agility, speed, coordination and body symmetry.

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Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies
Victor D. Cha and David C. Kang, ’88
Columbia U. Press, 2003
$24.50

Will North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il stop short of triggering a war he can’t win? Or is his country’s situation so dire that any change, however perilous, is preferable to the status quo? The authors differ in their assessment of North Korea’s intentions, but they do agree on a recommended course of action for the United States: engagement, rather than isolation.

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The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox
Jennifer Lee Carrell, ’84
Dutton, 2003
$24.95

Written in the style of a novel and worthy of an epic, this story elaborates the 18th-century crusades waged by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in London and Dr. Zabdiel Boylston in Boston. Both had survived the ravages of smallpox, and both dared to inoculate their children at a time when the procedure was untried by Western physicians and derided for its folk origins.

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Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom
Cynthia Lee, ’83
NYU Press, 2003
$37.95

Drawing on numerous murder trials across the country, Lee examines two defense doctrines—provocation and self-defense—and shows how they frequently work to the disadvantage of women and minorities, while helping white heterosexual males. Both defenses hinge on an action being judged “reasonable,” usually defined as “typical.” But typical social norms are often unjust, Lee asserts, and she offers ideas for reform.