PETROSTATE: Putin, Power, and the New Russia
By Marshall I. Goldman W’52. (Oxford University Press, 2008. $27.95.)  On the verge of bankruptcy in 1998, Russia has since reemerged onto the world scene flexing newfound economic and political muscle. Under the no-nonsense leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia has become the world’s chief producer of petroleum and second largest exporter. Drawing on research that includes several interviews with Putin himself, Goldman, professor of economics emeritus at Wellesley College, provides an in-depth look at how Putin and company have used oil to centralize power in Moscow and bring stability to the Russian economy.
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READING ORIENTALISM: Said and the Unsaid By Daniel Martin Varisco Gr’82. (University of Washington Press, 2008. $90.00 cloth, $30.00 paper.) In 1978, Edward Said published Orientalism, one of his most famous and influential works on the discourse, relations, and misperceptions between the West and the East. Varisco, professor of anthropology at Hofstra, has provided an extensive and penetrating survey and critique of Said’s seminal work. Buy this book

TALES OF THE MONKEY KING By Teresa Chin Jones CW’63 Gr’66. (Pacific View Press, 2008. $19.95.) Set in the mythical Middle Kingdom of seventh-century China, Tales of the Monkey King draws on the legend of Monkey, who was born from a rock and proclaims himself king of all monkeys. The clever, mischievous Monkey accompanies the monk Xuan Zang on his quest for ancient Buddhist manuscripts—and gives young readers a thrilling journey full of monsters, demons, and good versus evil. Buy this book

MEDICI GARDENS: From Making to Design By Rafaella Fabiani Giannetto GLA’99 Gr’04. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. $55.00.) The 15th-century Medici gardens of Trebbio, Cafaggiolo, Careggi, and Fiesole evolved from simple pleasure gardens to important expressions of political power and wealth. Drawing from Medici tax returns, inventories, and correspondence, Giannetto (who teaches landscape architecture at the University of Maryland) compares the development of these gardens to their fictional counterpoints in the works of Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Ficino. Buy this book

THE SONG OF THE DISTANT DOVE: Judah Halevi’s Pilgrimage By Raymond P. Scheindlin C’61. (Oxford University Press, 2008. $45.00.) Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Spain, the medieval poet Judah Halevi left his friends, community, and family to travel to Jerusalem. In documenting Halevi’s pilgrimage and final days, Scheindlin, director of the Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary, resurrects the life of one of the best-known medieval Hebrew poets. Buy this book

BRANCH RICKEY: A Biography By Murray Polner G’51. (McFarland, 2007. $35.) A revised edition of Polner’s definitive 1982 biography of Rickey, the legendary vice president of the Brooklyn Dodgers and general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates who helped integrate Major League Baseball by signing Jackie Robinson. Based on nearly 100 interviews and extensive research, the new edition includes updates, revisions, a foreword by Rickey’s grandson, and a new preface. Buy this book

ALONG THE ROARING RIVER: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met By Hao Jiang Tian with Lois B. Morris CW’65. (Wiley, 2008. $27.95.) The remarkable story of Hao Jiang Tian and his life journey: from a young boy in Mao’s China (where he was assigned to hard labor in a factory for seven years and was nearly thrown out of a music program for wiggling his hips like Elvis onstage) to a renowned singer with the Metropolitan Opera. Buy this book

DISORIENTATIONS: Spanish Colonialism in Africa and the Performance of Identity By Susan Martin-Márquez Gr’91. (Yale Univerity Press, 2009. $65.00.) Martin-Marquez, associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Rutgers University, argues that the Spanish people have oscillated between denying and embracing their historical relationship to Muslims and Africans, and she uses a wealth of texts to highlight the complexities and disorientations of the Spanish identity. Buy this book

THE DIPLOMAT’S WIFE By Pam Jenoff L’01. (Mira Books, 2008. $13.95.) This sequel to The Kommandant’s Girl is filled with love, death, and espionage as it chronicles the post-World War II adventures of Marta Nederman, a Nazi prison-camp survivor and best friend of the earlier book’s heroine. Buy this book

HIDE A DAGGER BEHIND A SMILE: Use the 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies To Seize the Competitive Edge By Kaihan Krippendorf EAS’94 W’94. (Adam’s Media, 2008. $14.95.) Even before Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the ancient Chinese possessed 36 stratagems designed to bring the enemy to its knees. Krippendorf, president of the Strategy Learning Center, shows how the Eastern techniques of flexibility, indirect action, and polarity can help Western businesses. Buy this book

LINCOLN LEGENDS: Myths, Hoaxes and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President By Edward Steers Jr. C’59 Gr’63. (The University Press of Kentucky, 2007. $24.95.) Did Abraham Lincoln really write his greatest speech on the back of an envelope on the way to Gettysburg? Was he an illegitimate child? In carefully examining 14 myths and legends about our 16th president, Steers—the author of several books about Lincoln—also presents possible motivations and explanations behind their proliferation. Buy this book

THE ART OF BEING IN-BETWEEN: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca By Yanna Yannakakis Gr’03. (Duke University Press, 2008. $79.95 cloth, $22.95 paper.) Focusing on a rugged part of colonial Mexico, Yannakakis, an assistant professor of history at Montana State University, uses a wide array of historical sources to examine the indigenous people who drove the politics, culture, and economics of that outpost of the Spanish empire. Buy this book

TUNA: A Love Story By Richard Ellis C’59. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. $26.95.) Able to swim from New England to the Mediterranean and back and weighing as much as 1,500 pounds, the tuna is one of the sea’s most remarkable creatures. But its status as a fine delicacy in some parts of the world has left it open to a rapacious culling that has left the species on the brink of extinction. Ellis presents a balanced look at the causes and consequences of the dwindling of the tuna. Buy this book


ALL THINGS ORNAMENTAL : The Arts

MUSIC Piazzolla popularizer Tim Ribchester Gr’12
BOOKS Literature’s red scare. Counter-revolution of the Word
BOOKS Bringing the family saga home. Trading Dreams at Midnight
Briefly Noted

Arts Calendar


©2008 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 08/25/08