2023 Mixed Media List
In this novel of ideas from the best-selling author and National Book Award finalist Elliot Ackerman, A02, F03, Al Gore is president, but “our current plague of polarization” in still in full swing. The theme of political divisions figures into one of the novel’s plot lines through the work of narrator Martin Neumann, a Civil War historian who studies the role of compromise in American life. Another narrative thread centers on the toppling of Confederate monuments, and a third on the power that men have traditionally had over women. These streams all come together in the biggest news story of the day: Scientists have conquered death. When Neumann discovers his landlord, the famous litigator Robert Ableson, was resurrected a year ago, he is drawn into other Ableson family secrets and a troubling look at the question of “time and who owns it.”
With a cast of characters that runs to almost two pages, this second book from podcaster and former financial strategist Paul Podolsky, F96, is an intricate fictional whodunnit—or, more accurately, whodunwhat—set in the ruthless world of hedge fund billionaires and Russian bureaucrats. Fast paced and entertainingly written, the story starts as narrator Nick Burns gets an email from his boss (known only as “the Boss”) that tells him he must return from vacation to find the cracks in the financial system revealed by the murder of a Russian banker. Even as Nick spirals around the rabbit hole of corruption, violence, secret police, and the geopolitical manipulation of financial markets, he must attend to the two most important women in his life—his mother and Lola, a Hong Kong academic he loves who gets caught up in his drama. Suspense, scheming, and sentiment: Podolsky may just be a Tom Clancy for a new era.
Human Rights at the Intersections: Transformation through Local, Global, and Cosmopolitan Challenges
Anthony Tirado Chase, F95, F00, co-edited this open-access collection of essays that came about because human rights “are on the defensive and need to be reinvented,” as international human rights lawyer César Rodríguez-Garavito writes in the book’s foreword. Existential challenges to global human rights—including what the Israeli historian Yuval Harari called “religious biases and human tyrants...consumerist excesses and technological utopias”—are on the rise, and the activists and scholars writing here argue that traditional ways of addressing those challenges are no longer working. They propose instead reimagining the work of supporting human rights with interdisciplinary nonstate and substate approaches that engage with debates on localism, cosmopolitanism, gender, and sexuality.
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder
New Yorker staff writer David Grann, F92, author of the bestsellers The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon, has penned another can’t-put-down history that reads like fiction. This time his topic is the 1741 wreck of the HMS Wager on a deserted island off the coast of Chile and the surviving crew’s subsequent Lord of the Flies–like descent into savagery and mutiny. Grann recounts not only the harrowing shipwreck and its aftermath but also the battle between competing accounts of what happened—what he has called “the 18th century version of fake news.” Grann recently discussed the book in an interview on Tufts Now.
Strolling with Your Elephant: Perfect Moments in Travel
Few travelogues exhibit the breadth of locations represented in this series of short essays by travel agent and consultant Diana M. Hechler, F87. Rather than recalling her own adventures in the first person, Hechler gives readers an expert’s take on hidden gems and don’t-miss experiences in 31 destinations from Australia to Wales. Inviting color photographs separate the sections, which include many surprises. Who would have considered test driving a Land Rover in England, riding in a zeppelin in Germany, or petting a tranquilized rhino as vets attend to it in South Africa? But these activities are right there beside more common tourist experiences like jet-boating in New Zealand, whale-watching in Vancouver, and ghost-touring Charleston, SC. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure game come to life.
How to Subvert a Democracy: A History of India’s Deep State
Released in India under the title The Silent Coup: Inside India’s Deep State, this elegantly written exposé by investigative journalist Josy Joseph, F07, begins with a brief recounting of what could seem an isolated incident: a criminal “Indian business family” fleeing the country and the subsequent harassment of the whistleblower who brought their misdeeds to light. But this story quickly grows into an examination of how to manage the sprawling security establishment—made up of “a loose network of organisations such as the military, state police forces, paramilitaries, and the intelligence and investigation agencies”—meant to protect the world’s largest democracy, not to become a tool for subversion by the ruling elite. Joseph argues convincingly that the 2014 election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is both a symptom and a cause of the “dramatic decline in India’s democratic standards.”
The End of Scarcity: The Dawn of the New Abundant World
In this Amazon bestseller, Kristen Ragusin, F07, a wealth management consultant and certified digital currency professional, delivers a conversational take on the money-go-round that shows how debt underpins our entire financial system. This is a root cause of extreme competition that “progressively leaves more people out of the race,” she writes, while leaving a small group holding power over “how much our mortgage or car will cost, whether jobs exist and what the stock market will do.” Bringing together economic theory, philosophy, history, and more in simple, easily understandable ways, Ragusin considers what can be done to see through the illusions created by such unsustainable practices and create a “money revolution” that can lead to abundance for all. Utopian thinking, perhaps, but still, the book is a good primer on how the world really works.
Age of Danger: Keeping America Safe in an Era of New Superpowers, New Weapons, and New Threats
Timely and incisive, this examination of America’s national security machine asks why it so often fails in its mandate to keep the country safe not only from military threats and terrorism but also from pandemics, cyberattacks, and the extreme weather caused by climate change, despite costing taxpayers $1 trillion annually. Co-authored by Thom Shanker, F82, assistant Washington editor for The New York Times and director of the Project for Media and National Security at George Washington University, and Rand Corporation research director Andrew Hoehn, the book analyzes how previous incidents were handled, deconstructs the many areas in which known threats are not being adequately contained, and outlines what can be done to change that.
Mao’s Army Goes to Sea: The Island Campaigns and the Founding of China’s Navy
Toshi Yoshihara, F04, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, draws extensively from Chinese language sources in this groundbreaking history. The book examines the earliest naval engagements and amphibious operations by the People’s Liberation Army as it sought to overtake Nationalist resistance on the islands off China’s western coast, from the Shengsi Islands not far from Shanghai to Hainan south of Hong Kong. Capturing this territory was key to entrenching Communist rule, and as Yoshihara shows, China’s current naval engagements and institutional identity are often rooted in these initial mid-20th century experiences, making this must reading for scholars and policymakers.
No More! (No Más!)
This energetic and super-catchy Spanish-language anthem decrying violence against women is the centerpiece of the No More (No Más) awareness and fundraising campaign of the Pa’Arriba Foundation of Ecuador, whose founder and president, Lisa Markovits, F93, wrote the song. Markovits and an Ecuadorian hip hop artist sing backup vocals for lead singer Eka Gordom on the recording. The song refers to everyday examples of misogyny in culture and implores listeners to teach their boys not to abuse women and their girls not to put up with it. A compelling message—and be warned, even if you don’t speak Spanish, once you hear this song, you may not be able to get it out of your head.