Off the Shelf

Recent books with Harvard connections

I’ll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World’s Most Popular Wine, by Rudolph Chelminski ’56 (Gotham Books, $27.50). “Everyone knows Beaujolais, or thinks he does,” writes the author. After reading this saga of the wine and people of Beaujolais—in particular Georges Duboeuf—most readers will have learned much they didn’t know—and been warmly entertained along the way.

Elvis Is Titanic: Classroom Tales from the Other Iraq, by Ian Klaus (Knopf, $24). Klaus spent a semester in 2005 at Salahaddin University in Arbil, teaching American history to Kurds who were more tuned in to Elvis and other pop-culture exports than to U.S. national values, as they and he tell in a captivating memoir. Klaus is now pursuing a Ph.D. in history at Harvard.

Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, by Douglas Wolk ’91 (Da Capo Press, $22.95). A critic evaluates comics of yesteryear and today in a serious and witty book for hardcore fans and curious newcomers.

The Joker. Writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers brought to their late 1970s Detective Comics work, writes Douglas Wolk, “an Art Deco-inspired design sense and a loopy, decadent air.”

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Phillips professor of early American history and 300th Anniversary University Professor (Knopf, $24). Ulrich begins with three classic works in feminism, by Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Virginia Woolf, to explore how women make history either by doing the unexpected or recording and remembering it. She wrote the title of this book as a sentence in a 1976 scholarly article, but the words have escaped into popular culture and now appear on T-shirts and bumper stickers.

Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall, by Amy Chua ’84, J.D. ’87 (Doubleday, $27.95). Throughout history, the secret to global dominance has been tolerance of diversity. Yet, in virtually every instance, multiculturalism has tipped empires into decline. The Duff professor of law at Yale asks whether the United States has reached that point.

Are the Rich Necessary? Great Economic Arguments and How They Reflect Our Personal Values, by Hunter Lewis ’69 (Axios Press, $20). Here’s a highly readable book about economics and values. Posing such questions as “Are the rich compatible with democracy?” Lewis provides a punchy “no” argument, followed by a “yes” one. He is co-founder of the global investment firm Cambridge Associates.

Wagner Moments: A Celebration of Favorite Wagner Experiences, edited and annotated by J.K. Holman, A.M. ’69 (Amadeus Press, $12.95, paper). Holman, chairman of the Wagner Society of Washington, D.C., takes testimony from 107 people, ranging from Marcel Proust to Willa Cather, about how the music of Wagner illuminated their lives. This is ideal bedtime reading for Wagnerians, especially those who like to take their “epiphanies and awakenings” lying down.

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