Reading List: Summer 2016

Jeffrey Saks

The First Congress
By Fergus M. Bordewich ’77JRN

In many ways, the first Congress was mired in the same issues that face the legislative branch today: competing factions, financial concerns, and a Constitution that provided a set of principles but few instructions for interpreting them. Yet it was also the most productive Congress in history. Independent historian Fergus Bordewich’s latest book captures its dramatic term.


100 Years
Edited by Joshua Prager ’94CC

In a true journey through the human experience, Joshua Prager compiles quotes from literary giants — everyone from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou — about each year of life from birth to age one hundred. The book is designed by Milton Glaser, who created the iconic I NY logo.


By Belinda McKeon ’10SOA 

The heart wants what it wants, no matter how inconvenient or improbable its object may be. But Catherine, the heroine of Irish writer Belinda McKeon’s second novel, wants James, a free-spirited artist, and James, unfortunately for Catherine, wants men. The result is a lyrical ode to youthful obsession.


By David Means ’87SOA 

In the alternate universe of David Means’s first novel (he has previously published four short-story collections), John F. Kennedy has survived the assassination attempt in Dallas and is leading a project that will erase the memories of veterans returning from Vietnam. And that’s only one of the dark and dangerous things happening in this tumultuous, dystopian look at 1960s–70s America.


Republic of Spin
By David Greenberg ’01GSAS

It’s election season, and more than ever it seems impossible to tell if we’re electing the candidates themselves or the spin machines that created them. According to David Greenberg, who carefully chronicles the rise of speechwriting and political branding from Woodrow Wilson to the present, that cynicism is warranted.


Sailor and Fiddler
By Herman Wouk ’34CC

Herman Wouk, the legendary author of The Caine Mutiny, turned one hundred last May. In this chatty memoir, the self-described “cheerful centenarian” looks back on his life and career — including his time at Columbia, which turned the Bronx-bred son of Russian-Jewish immigrants into a bona fide “Manhattan smoothie.”


By Sydney Finkelstein ’88BUS 

What do Alice Waters, Ralph Lauren, and George Lucas have in common? According to Sydney Finkelstein, they are all legendary not only for their own accomplishments, but for spawning spectacular protégés. Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, spent ten years studying these kinds of influencers and explores their key characteristics.