Skip to content

Shelf Life

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, '94
Alfred A. Knopf

The author, former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, conducts an autopsy on the yearlong U.S. occupation administration in Iraq. According to his firsthand account, political loyalty blatantly trumped expertise in key appointments and American officials ignored the advice of knowledgeable locals—with disastrous results. Chandrasekaran’s deadpan but merciless descriptions of the lifestyle and mindset of those working at headquarters demonstrate that the occupiers were mostly as remote from Iraqi realities as Oz was from Kansas.

Errors and Omissions
Paul Goldstein

Goldstein, the Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor of Law, makes his debut as a novelist with a thriller about intellectual property. Michael Seeley, whose alcoholism has cost him his marriage and threatens his career, is hired by United Pictures to secure the rights to its profitable Spykiller series. The initial screenplay dates from the Hollywood blacklist era, and its authorship remains a tug-of-war between artists and studio moguls 60 years later.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green
Karen Cushman, ’63
Clarion Books

In 1949, a demure Catholic schoolgirl befriends the outspoken daughter of a Hollywood screenwriter who’s thought to be “pink.” For the first time Cushman, a Newbery-honored author of five previous historical novels for young people, visits an era of living memory. Fearless Sophie Bowman, who draws flowers on the hem of her school uniform and asks questions that make Sister Basil the Great quail, makes Francine ponder conformity, injustice and loyalty in the eighth grade and beyond.

Chasing the Wind: The Autobiography of Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett, ’66, with Will Hasley
Virgin Books

Having never met an adventure he didn’t like, Fossett provides detailed accounts of how he swam the English Channel, raced the Iditarod, sailed solo across the Atlantic and, most famously, flew solo around the world in a balloon. The pitfall-pocked road to more than 115 world records and five nonstop circumnavigations began at Stanford, where he swam to Alcatraz to hoist a Beat Cal banner for 1965’s Big Game.

King of the 40th Parallel: Discovery in the American West
James Gregory Moore, ’51
Stanford University Press

This biography of the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey comes with trappings worthy of reality TV: omnivorous mosquitoes, hostile Indians, lightning strikes, malaria. The story of Clarence King (1842-1901) and the 12-year mapping expedition that launched his career is a peppery read—beginning with the cover photograph in which King ropes down a crevice in Utah’s Uinta Mountains.

The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street
Jonathan A. Knee, MBA ’87
Oxford U. Press

An insider who once worked at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and who now is a partner in a boutique financial firm, Knee watched as investment banking changed from a customer-focused to a transaction-focused business. He offers a witty and accessible look at conflicts of interest that would seem to put the sin in cynicism.

Blue Front: A Poem
Martha Collins, ’62
Graywolf Press

On a November day in 1909, Collins’s father was a 5-year-old fruit seller in a huge Cairo, Ill., crowd that witnessed the lynching of a black man, and then, as an afterthought, a white one. Collins, who teaches at Oberlin College, draws on newspaper accounts, census data, photographs and ephemera to explore this incident of mob mentality.

Calling Out
Rae Meadows, ’92

Jane, a disappointed-in-love émigré from Manhattan, becomes the receptionist at an escort service in Salt Lake City and finds herself on a slippery and intermittently sordid slope. In her debut novel, Meadows explores the sex trade in a Mormon-dominated landscape, focusing on the empathic-to-a-fault Jane and her unmoored roommates and co-workers.

The Murals of John Pugh: Beyond Trompe L’Oeil
Kevin Bruce, MLA ’99
Ten Speed Press

“Narrative illusionism” is the term art historian Bruce coined to describe 35 trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) murals of California artist Pugh. Starting in 1981 with a Cal State-Chico building that was painted to seem as if a crumbled wall was revealing a columned gallery within, Pugh has seized interesting opportunities to make two dimensions go deep.

Comments (0)

  • Be the first one to add a comment. You must log in to comment.


Your Rating
Average Rating



Be the first one to tag this!