Off the Shelf

A sampling of current books received at this magazine

After Jihad, by Noah Feldman '92, Jf '01 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24). Is Islamic democracy possible? Should America help bring it about? Yes, says the author, a professor at the New York University School of Law with a D.Phil from Oxford in Islamic thought. (See "Bringing Iraq Back?" for an alternate view.) Feldman is head of the team in the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance assigned to oversee and advise on drafting the constitution for a democratic Iraq.  

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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, by Fareed Zakaria, Ph.D. '93 (W.W. Norton, $24.95). "At the start the West must recognize that it does not seek democracy in the Middle East—at least not yet," writes Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International. "We seek first constitutional liberalism, which is very different."  

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Mirror, Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection, by Mark Pendergrast '70 (Basic Books, $27.50). The author of books on Coca-Cola and coffee pursues another rich topic—our first technology for contemplation of the self. He tells engagingly of the mirror's history and of its effects on myth, religion, science, manners, and the arts.

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Chasing Shakespeares, by Sarah Smith '69, Ph.D. '75 (Atria Books, $24). This well-turned novel about a durable academic mystery—who wrote Shakespeare's plays—is likely to energize and entertain both conservatives and contrarians. Featuring two graduate students, the sexy ditz Posy Gould of Harvard and the levelheaded Joe Roper of Northeastern.

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Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT, by T.F. Peterson (MIT Press, $19.95, paper). "Because it has been hacked so many times" by the clever young people downstream, "Harvard is an expert on MIT hacks," writes the author in a chapter—"When MIT Won the Harvard-Yale Game: Hacking Harvard"—offering a synoptic view of the phenomenon.

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Duckweed harvesting, North Dakota, from Designs on the Land.
From the book

Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air, photographs by Alex S. MacLean '69, M.Arch. '73 (Thames & Hudson, $39.95, paper). More than 400 arresting visions from on high, some majestic (the Shiprock volcano in New Mexico), some anything but (high-density beach housing in New Jersey).  

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John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy, by Evan Thomas '73 (Simon and Schuster, $26.95). "His real name was John Paul, inherited, along with a chip on the shoulder, from his father." Thus begins a gripping biography of a ruthless, indomitable, mythic figure, by the assistant managing editor of Newsweek, a sailor himself.

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Willow Temple: New and Selected Stories, by Donald Hall '51, Jf '57 (Houghton Mifflin, $24). Twelve short stories by a master craftsman.

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The Art of the Infinite: The Pleasures of Mathematics, by Robert Kaplan, A.M. '69, and Ellen Kaplan '57, A.M. '59 (Oxford University Press, $25). Robert Kaplan wrote a scintillating bestseller about zero—beach reading for the mathematically disposed. Now he and his wife take on infinity. They begin with Pythagoras and end with Georg Cantor, who showed that infinity can come in different sizes.

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Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's: Hanging In, Holding On, and Letting Go of Your Teen, by Barbara Cooke and Carleton Kendrick '68, Ed.M. '72, and others (Unlimited Publishing, $13.99, paper). Parents say: Contrary to epidemic negative stereotyping, teens are not a disease.

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Invisible Citizens: Youth Politics after September 11, edited by Ganesh Sitaraman '03 and Previn Warren '04 (iUniverse, $14.95, paper). Young people say: To say that young people are apathetic beyond resuscitation about politics is bunk. Funded by the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

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Bull's-Eye: Unraveling the Medical Mystery of Lyme Disease, by Jonathan A. Edlow, M.D., assistant professor of medicine (Yale University Press, $29.95). The author begins in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975, but his tale of medical sleuthing spans centuries and continents.

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From the jacket of Our Own Devices
From the book
Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, Planner, and Creator of the Appalachian Trail, by Larry Anderson '73 (Johns Hopkins University Press, $45). MacKaye (rhymes with "high") '00, A.M. '05, originated the Appalachian Trail and pioneered the concept that preservation and recreation marry happily.

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Our Own Devices: The Past and Future of Body Technology, by Edward Tenner, Jf '72 (Knopf, $26). Technologies such as shoes, chairs, helmets, keyboards, and baby bottles have consequences that their designers never intended. The author is a contributing editor of this magazine.

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