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The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right
Michael J. Graetz, the Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor of Law Emeritus, and Linda Greenhouse ’78MSL
Simon and Schuster, $30

“The received learning about the 17-year period known as the Burger Court,” write the authors, is that “nothing much happened.” But as we learn, nothing could be further from the truth. In a fascinating examination of the Supreme Court when it was led by Chief Justice Warren Burger, Graetz and Greenhouse reveal how the justices spent “much energy drawing lines and setting limits” in crafting decisions—on matters from affirmative action to money in politics—that continue to impact the country.


Island People: The Caribbean and the World
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro ’02

Alfred A. Knopf, $28.95

“The Caribbean, as much as it is a place, is also an idea,” writes the author, a geographer and island-hopping journalist. Jelly-Schapiro, a self-described white kid from Vermont, was captivated by the region, thanks to Bob Marley and to his own undergraduate studies in the Program on Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. In this richly drawn travelogue and history, he delivers a fine exploration of “the place where ‘globalization’ [and] the West’s still-ongoing conversation about universal human rights began.”


What the Luck? The Surprising Role of Chance in Our Everyday Lives
Gary Smith ’71PhD
Overlook Press, $28.95

In 2013, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had, even by his future Hall of Fame standards, a standout year. But Smith, a statistician, made a controversial prediction that Manning wouldn’t do as well the following year. And he didn’t—a victim of what Smith calls “the mediocrity magnet”: the tendency, in football along with every other human endeavor, for a regression to the mean. “We are inclined to discount the role of luck in our lives,” says Smith. He gives us a look at the importance of fortune, both good and ill, in human affairs.


The West Wing Weekly
Hrishikesh Hirway ’00 and Joshua Malina ’88
free podcast, available on iTunes and other platforms

Feel like bathing in the optimistic political world of The West Wing, the White House drama that aired for seven seasons on NBC? You can watch it on DVD or Netflix—along with this podcast that discusses one episode each week. Malina acted on the show for four seasons; Hirway, who also hosts the music podcast Song Exploder, is an observant superfan. They trade notes on the show’s content and its craft, often with guests from the show and from real-world politics.


The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes
Natalie Eve Garrett ’99, Editor.
PowerHouse Books, $30

Like its 1961 predecessor, which featured food-making adventures from the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Harper Lee, this update is a “secret portal into the kitchens of 76 contemporary artists and writers.” The tales behind the recipes range from heartbreaking—the last meal prepared by Joyce Carol Oates’s husband—to heartwarming: actor (and sometime Yale grad student) James Franco’s take on the “artist’s best friend, the utilitarian, American-style PB&J.” In advice applicable to the entire recipe collection, Garrett says, “I dare you to give them a try.”


The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us about the Future of Urban Life
Jonathan F. P. Rose ’74
Harper Wave, $29.99

Developer, planner, and urbanologist Rose has spent a lifetime attempting “to understand how to make cities whole.” It’s a critical task, since demographers estimate that by the year 2080, 80 percent of us will be urbanites. Rose argues that “most of our cities have lost their original higher purpose.” He draws on many sources, including the music of Bach, in exploring how we can knit the threads together—“our technical and social potential and the generative power of nature”—to achieve a higher end.

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