On the shelf

The Magazine publishes a selection of general-interest books by alumni authors. For additional alumni books, see "In Their Own Words" at magazine.uchicago.edu/books.

The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern GermanyThe 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany, by Kay Schiller, PhD’96, and Christopher Young, University of California Press, 2010. The 1972 Olympics were intended to showcase a new Germany, stripped of its fascist past and imbued with a spirit of optimism. But a Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli team, killing 11, overshadowed these aspirations and irrevocably altered the Munich Olympics influence on West Germany. The authors put the games in the context of 1972 West Germany and the modern Olympic games that were intended to unify the world.

Wrigley Regulars: Finding Community in the Bleachers, by Holly Swyers, AM’99, PhD’03, University of Illinois Press, 2010. Immersing herself in the traditions of the nation’s second-oldest ballpark, Swyers examines how a community of regular Cubs fans perpetuates itself, through practices like scorecard-keeping, elaborate seating arrangements, and pregame gathering spots. Challenging the notion that the Internet age necessarily fragments society, Swyer—a bleacher regular herself—finds in Wrigley new adaptations to maintain the time-tested community of baseball fans.

Pigeon Trouble: Bestiary Biopolitics in a Deindustrialized AmericaPigeon Trouble: Bestiary Biopolitics in a Deindustrialized America, by Hoon Song, AM’93, PhD’00, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. An anthropologist with a fear of birds makes his way to a pigeon shoot deep in Pennsylvania coal country, where competitors fire at birds and protesters maintain care centers to rehabilitate or euthanize the victims. The strangeness of the event mingles with a surreal culture of conspiracy theory among the miners (for example, that the federal government, Zionists, the news media, and animal-rights activists aim to destroy “white civilization”), giving Song an opportunity to both explore his own fears and profile a distinct culture in postindustrial America.

From Sword to Shield: The Transformation of the Corporate Income Tax, 1861 to Present, by Steven A. Bank, JD’94, Oxford University Press, 2010. Bank has written extensively on business taxation’s history in the United States and other countries. His book explores the evolution of corporate income tax in America and how it shifted from a “sword” against individual tax evasion to a “shield” against government and shareholder interference.

When the Gods Were Born: Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East, by Carolina López-Ruiz, PhD’05, Harvard University Press, 2010. When the Gods Were Born examines the nuanced cultural interchange between ancient Greeks and their neighbors, looking at Near East influences on myths such as Hesiod’s Theogony, the seminal Greek poem relating the origins of the gods. Some words and names in the story, for example, suggest Northwest Semitic etymology. The book breaks down linguistic and ideological barriers to our conventional understanding of these ancient religions, often studied in isolation.

Ethics in Light of ChildhoodEthics in Light of Childhood, by John Wall, AB’88, AM’91, PhD’99, Georgetown University Press, 2010. Wall, a Rutgers University associate professor of religion and childhood studies, examines ethical thought and practice from the perspective of children. Although often excluded from ethical discussion, children are one-third of the world’s people. The author argues for “a new childism”—similar to humanism, feminism, and environmentalism—to transform moral thinking and social relations.

Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, by James Swanson, AB’81, William Morrow, 2010. In this sequel to his best seller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln’s Killer, Swanson retraces the final journeys of the two men who led America through the Civil War. In April 1865, as Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train made its way across the North, the defeated Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, fled and was later captured in the South. “Their dual stories form an American epic, a kind of American Iliad,” writes the author, that influence U.S. history to this day.

The InstructionsThe Instructions, by Adam Levin, AM’01, McSweeney’s, 2010. Expelled from three Jewish day schools for acts of violence, ten-year-old Gurion Maccabee is a talker, a lover, and a fighter. He may also be the next messiah. Levin’s debut novel spans more than 1,000 pages and four days in the life of a middle-school rebel.

Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession, by Francesco Duina, AB’91, AM’91, Princeton University Press, 2010. In sports, entertainment, politics, education, and business, Americans are taught that it’s better to win than lose. Sociologist Duina examines the social and psychological costs of our national obsession with competition.


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