On topics from Eisenhower to atheists, here are the latest faculty and alumni books that are sure to provoke, delight and enlighten.
David Haven Blake Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising, and the Rise of Celebrity Politics. “I like Ike,” the campaign slogan for Dwight D. Eisenhower, is one of the most famous in modern history. According to David Haven Blake, PhD ’94, in his award-winning book Liking Ike, this was no happy accident. Blake argues that it was Eisenhower, not JFK, who was the first politician to harness the power of advertising and celebrity culture for his political campaigns, thus changing America’s political and cultural landscape.
Todd Decker Hymns for the Fallen: Combat Movie Music and Sound After Vietnam. You can learn a lot by listening, as Todd Decker, professor in music and film and media studies, shows in his book Hymns for the Fallen, a look at post–Vietnam War Hollywood film sound. Films such as Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan and Platoon use sound — dialogue, music and sound effects — to let audiences encounter what the modern American soldier went through in war, in an experience both patriotic and memorializing.
Clifton Hood In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis. In 1888, there were 400 members of the New York aristocracy, stated Ward McAllister, an arbiter of Gilded Age society. Just a decade later, Cornelia Bradley-Martin’s costume ball included 800 professed aristocrats. Five years later, there were 25,000. In In Pursuit of Privilege, Clifton Hood, AB ’76, tells the story of this changing NYC aristocracy and how it grew despite efforts to keep out newcomers.
Michael S. Kinch A Prescription for Change: The Looming Crisis in Drug Development. In A Prescription for Change, Michael Kinch, associate vice chancellor and director of the Center for Research Innovation in Biotechnology, tells about the looming crisis in the pharmaceutical industry. Bringing a drug to market costs $2.6 billion, and most pharmaceutical companies have shut down their research and development wings as a result. To keep new drugs coming to market, Kinch argues, we must find ways to lower the cost of producing them.
Krister Dylan Knapp William James: Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity. William James, the “father of American psychology,” taught the first psychology course in the U.S. and influenced great thinkers such as Bertrand Russell, W.E.B. DuBois and Emile Durkheim. Senior lecturer Krister Dylan Knapp’s William James looks at the great thinker’s psychical research, which was part of a broad transatlantic trend of Europeans and Americans trying to balance science and religion as they moved forward in an uncertain modern time.
Edward McPherson The History of the Future: American Essays. Edward McPherson’s new book, The History of the Future, looks back to move forward. In prose that blends personal narrative and historical research with folklore and myth, the assistant professor of creative writing compares Dallas to Dallas and fracking to digging for dinosaurs in North Dakota boomtowns. With this approach, McPherson points out our need for a moral imperative of preservation rather than profit if we want to have any future at all.
Sara Flannery Murphy The Possessions. In The Possessions, by Sara Flannery Murphy, MFA ’09, Edie’s job is to be possessed by the dead, so mourning Elysian Society clients can talk to lost loved ones — usually. Sometimes people have far more sinister aims, and Edie can’t remember what happens while she’s possessed. When handsome Patrick Braddock shows up, mourning his late wife, Sylvia — who died under mysterious circumstances — Edie’s controlled life begins to unravel as the line between her and Sylvia grows ever thinner.
Leigh Eric Schmidt Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation. What does it mean to be atheist in America? Leigh Eric Schmidt, the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, tells the history of American secularism and the many individuals — such as atheist sex reformer Elmina D. Slenker — who dissented, at their peril, with prevailing pieties. Despite separation of church and state, Schmidt shows faith and citizenship are often interwoven.
Carolyn Sargent (and William C. Olsen) African Medical Pluralism. In this collection of ethnographic essays, editors Carolyn Sargent, professor of anthropology and women, gender, and sexuality studies, and William C. Olsen examine health care on the African continent. Most patients in Africa draw on a “therapeutic continuum” that includes traditional medicines like herbs, religious healing and the latest biomedical technology. Through a look at these treatments, scholars examine how Africans perceive sickness and understand suffering.