IMAGE:  October 2004

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On the Shelf

image:  on the shelfFermi Remembered, edited by James Cronin, SM’53, PhD’55, University of Chicago Press. Adding a new chapter to Enrico Fermi’s memory, this book features reminiscences from 25 scientists, including U of C physics professor emeritus Cronin and several other Nobel Prize winners, who knew the world-changing physicist, as well as pages from Fermi’s own notebooks, correspondences, speeches, and teaching materials. Through his research Cronin uncovered such gems as a 1945 letter in which Fermi, who oversaw the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, describes his vision for the Chicago research institute that now bears his name.

image:  on the shelfJust Add Buddha: Quick Buddhist Solutions to Hellish Bosses, Traffic Jams, Stubborn Spouses, & Other Annoyances of Everyday Life, by Franz Metcalf, PhD’97, Ulysses Press. Daily life got you down? Just add Buddha and watch your attitude change. That’s advice from Divinity School–grad Metcalf, who offers a variety of techniques—instant relaxations, fast visualizations, and so on—for dealing with quotidian hassles such as difficult coworkers. The Buddhist bonus to transforming those situations, he proposes, is a stronger spiritual foundation. Metcalf’s do-it-yourself approach aims to demystify Buddhism so that even karmic beginners can enter the path to enlightenment.

image:  on the shelfEating Smoke: Fire in Urban America, 1800–1950, by Mark Tebeau, AB’88, Johns Hopkins University Press. Forget Ladder 49, John Travolta’s latest film foray. For the true story of the heroic firefighter’s role in urban America, turn to Tebeau’s investigative account. Drawing on fire-department and insurance-company archives, he shows how both groups helped make the nation’s shift to industrialization—plagued in its early days by catastrophic blazes—safer. Tebeau, whose father was a firefighter, details the changing practices that led to improved building codes, hydrants, and other reforms.

image:  on the shelfAnother Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family, by Ronne Hartfield, AB’55, AM’82, University of Chicago Press. Hartfield’s memoir focuses on miscegenation’s role in her family’s history. Spanning most of the 20th century, the tale begins with her mother, Day Shepherd—born to a wealthy British plantation owner and the mixed-race daughter of a former slave—navigating life in the South. It follows Shepherd as she migrates to Bronzeville, a black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Through Shepherd’s experiences, and later Hartfield’s, the book portrays the challenges facing American women of mixed race, played out against the backdrop of such significant periods as the Great Depression and the start of the civil rights movement.

The Remnants of War, by John Mueller, AB’60, Cornell University Press. Note to war presidents: armed conflict is out of fashion. That’s according to Mueller, an expert on national security policy at Ohio State University, who describes war as “merely an idea, an institution, like dueling or slavery.” As developed nations abandon armed conflict as a way to negotiate with other countries, he argues, war is declining. Today most battles are internal conflicts that stem from ineffective governments, he believes, not ethnic or religious rivalries. He favors domestic policing as a way to reestablish civic order.

image:  on the shelfLonely Planet Road Trip Route 66, by Sara Benson, AB’95, Lonely Planet Publications. Benson’s take on the quintessential American drive supplies more than the usual guidebook fodder (maps, where to stay, where to eat, etc.). Sidebars also provide tidbits on topics such as nostalgic road music and short side trips. Not straying too far from the genre, she covers the major historic and natural sites along the 2,200-mile trek from Chicago to Los Angeles—Civil War battlefields, presidential homes, the Grand Canyon, and the Mojave Desert, among others. And to get your kicks, there’s information on quirky attractions, including the Gemini Giant, Cadillac Ranch, and Jackrabbit Trading Post.—M.L.


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