Photo credit: Hildreth Wilson

Advice from the good doctor: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Thanks all. Enjoy. Have a fun and relaxing summer!

Berkeley Law Library

Click on book cover to read review.

Alexander Hamilton
Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World
Blood in the Machine
The Coldest Winter
Data Feminism
Dead Things are Closer Than They Appear
East Side Story
Everyone Who is Gone is Here
Everything I learned I learned in a Chinese Restaurant
The Golden Gate
Hits, Flops and Other Illusions
I Have Some Questions for You
Jewish Space Lasers
Killers of a Certain Age
A Life of Her Own
Make Way for Ducklings
The Making of the Atomic Bomb
The Makioka Sisters
My Husband
Pereira Maintains
Power and Progress
Prophet Song
Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Journal
Sweet Taste of Liberty
Table for Two
Thursday Next
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
The Trump Indictments
The Tudors
The Twilight Zone
The Upstairs Delicatessen
Weapons of Math Destruction
The Wide Wide Sea
A Woman of Pleasure

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Mel Eisenberg, Jesse H. Choper Professor of Law (Emeritus)

From Amazon: “Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, co authoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.”

Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World by Claire Jean Kim

Jonathan Glater, Professor of Law, Associate Dean, J.D. Curriculum and Teaching, Faculty Director of the Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice

Uplifting this book is not, but it is an insightful, clear, and persuasively written chronicle of the experiences of African American experience in society and in law and that of Asian Americans in society and in law. The core argument I think of as moving relative positions of different racial (and at times ethnic) groups from two-dimensional space, representing these two groups along a line reflecting increasing degrees of power, wealth, and influence, into three-dimensional space, reflecting that Asian Americans face and have faced discrimination and worse in the United States, reflecting their distance from Whiteness, and at the same time they benefit from distance from Blackness. The carefully precise descriptions, often of the facts and judicial opinions included in a 1L Constitutional Law casebook, note the ways in which arguments that work to advance the interests of one racial or ethnic group use the prospect of Black advancement as an incentive or sometimes a threat: proposals for reparations for the imprisonment of people of Japanese descent during World War II had to overcome concern that descendants of slaves might then successfully demand reparations, too, for example. Professor Kim's (she is on the faculty at UCI) juxtaposition of different historical moments involving demands for fairness is provocative - even though many of the examples cannot but demoralize.

Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech by Brian Merchant

Michael Lindsey, Director of Library Web Development

By the 1810s, generations of weavers in and around Nottingham (yes, that Nottingham) had built a reputation for quality textile work. Then they started getting rolled by factory bosses who realized they could increase their profits by installing machines, cutting jobs and lowering wages.

Lo, working families and communities suffered. The machine textiles were crappy. Representatives in government were uninterested. So, some of the workers decided to send the bosses a message by busting the machines. They were decentralized and worked in secret. They created a persona, Ned Ludd, as their captain, for their public campaign. They were local heroes.

The Luddites were not anti-technology. This dull cliché limps ever onward, even today. Rather, the Luddite's targets were "machines harmful to commonality." They only destroyed the machines that were implicated in the problem. Other modern machines were left untouched.

They took direct action in a local bounded system--weaving in Nottinghamshire in the 1810s. The reader might wonder what, if any, contemporary technologies (e.g. in a global internet system) are "harmful to commonality"? And what kind of collective action, if any, could possibly be effective?

Listen to an interview with the author on the excellent Techtonic radio program with Mark Hurst on WFMU.

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent by Ann Jacobus (YA)

Annette Counts, Librarian, Bishop O’Dowd High School

This book does double duty as a compelling Young Adult novel and an effective public service announcement.

True to YA form, The Coldest Winter features crossed wires, love interests, self doubt, mess ups, and humor along with a range of teen friends and a few wise adults. Del, the young narrator, is a keen observer with a self-deprecating sense of humor, and local readers will appreciate the descriptions of San Francisco and Berkeley - especially the Cal campus.

Del’s story alone would carry the novel, but Jacobus’s straightforward approach to addiction, suicide ideation, anxiety and depression make the novel more than a good story. The book opens with Del, a recently graduated high school senior, doing her volunteer shift at the crisis hotline. As Del goes through the process of handling a call, the reader sees behind the scenes and how the crisis lines offer help to those seeking connection as well as the limitations placed on front line mental health care.

Throughout the novel, Del works hard to maintain her mental health, and she shares the step-by-step techniques she uses when she senses a panic attack. We also meet the members of AA who look out for Del and counsel her when she feels overwhelmed by the urge to drink. None of this comes across as preachy or heavy handed. Instead, the vital information is incorporated seamlessly in Del’s story.

The most moving part of The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent comes when Del must deal with her beloved Aunt Fran’s grim cancer prognosis. Trust me this is not just a pile on of tragedy, but rather an opportunity for Del to grow and for the reader to learn. The hospice nurse, another well-drawn character, guides Del through Fran’s dying process, leaving the reader informed and in awe about the privilege of accompanying someone through the end of life.

Read The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent for Del’s engaging story and local setting, but most likely the book’s messages about life, death and mental health will be what sticks with you.

Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein

Joe Cera, Data and Digital Initiatives Librarian

This was an all around excellent book. Are you a person who thinks numbers don't lie? Or perhaps you are in the camp that thinks that cleaned data and the computers who use data are neutral? Well, you are in for some disappointment.

Not only does it dive into many of the ways that we should rethink the way we look at data, it also sets a solid standard for how we should write about data. This book embraces the idea that the context in which data gets gathered, the people who gather data, and all of the actions around the creation of a data set are all things that matter. The idea that we shouldn't use data to make a point and that people should make their own conclusions after looking at a 'neutral' representation of the data? Nonsense. It was an excellent sign that the authors both start the book by describing themselves and their lived experiences in order to place everything that follows in context. If you have seen the term 'data feminism' out in the wild and you aren't sure what that means, you should already be looking to see where you can pick up this book. The seven principles of data feminism are ones that should invade your space and make you think any time you are creating or using data:

  1. Examine power
  2. Challenge power
  3. Elevate emotion and embodiment
  4. Rethink binaries and hierarchies
  5. Embrace pluralism
  6. Consider context
  7. Make labor visible

I don't want to spoil it because you should just read it (or listen to the audiobook). It is worth your time and your views surrounding data will be better for it.

Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear by Robin Wasley (YA)

Xingyue Zoea, Age 11

Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear focuses on the main character, Sid Spencer’s story line. Sid has grown up as one of four Asians in her small town, Wellsie. Wellsie is a fault line, a place that has magic sealed inside it---until someone kills one of the Guardians protecting the magic. Meanwhile, she’s getting over being turned down by a boy she’s liked for years---and then her best friend starts dating him. But then one day, she feels a large earthquake. Not unusual for her area, she is not surprised. Not until she loses reception. When she goes outside, she sees someone she knows from her school. But something is wrong with him: He was the first Guardian to die.

I enjoyed this story thanks to its relatable characters. I found it easy to put myself into Sid’s point of view since she was always pretty ordinary until she was thrown into this crazy situation. If you like supernatural action novels, this is the book for you.

Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein

Monique J Macaulay, Acquisitions

Naomi Klein is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses; support of ecofeminism, organized labor, and leftism; and criticism of corporate globalization, fascism, ecofascism and capitalism. She is not, however, Naomi Wolf. And so, starts our journey into the world of our twisted opposites. Both personal and political the book itself is very hard to define but Klein, through her experience of continually being confused with Wolf, tries to provide a framework for how we can move forward out of the political morass we all seem to be stuck in. Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World is located in the library’s Popular Reading collection on LL2. Check it out!

East Side Story 40th Anniversary, vols. 1-12 (limited edition CD box set) produced by East Side Records

Dean Rowan, Interim Director

All of the reviews herein by yours truly veer into music at the expense of print, but this one is extremely skewed. East Side Story is a collection of twelve CD compilations of recordings from many decades, all tied to the scenes in East L.A. I grew up just east of East L.A., but not far from the vaunted Whittier Blvd. The liner notes are spare here, which I lament, but bottom-line says it’s about the music. Holy cow, the music! Doo-wop, ballads, thumping bass, banging rhythm sections, vocal harmonies, virtuosity…it all delivers. There are celebrities: Big Jay McNeely, The Four Tops, Smokey, The Miracles, Bloodstone, and mostly lesser known one hit wonders. The CDs run short, because they reproduce an older series of LPs. Production is hot, not hi-fi, but it fares well on a dance floor with strobes flashing and amplifiers clipping. If you dig nights on Whittier Blvd. in Pico Rivera, Boyle Heights, or even Whittier, get this box.

Also available on vinyl.

Everyone Who is Gone is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis by Jonathan Blitzer

Helen Kerwin, Clinical Supervising Attorney, International Human Rights Clinic

From Amazon: “An epic, heartbreaking, and deeply reported history of the disastrous humanitarian crisis at the southern border told through the lives of the migrants forced to risk everything and the policymakers who determine their fate, by New Yorker staff writer Jonathan Blitzer.”

Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant: A Memoir by Curtis Chin

Colleen Chien, Professor of Law

A delicious, heartfelt, funny and super satisfying read now on the bestseller list about growing up gay and Chinese American in Detroit, from a relative by marriage.

The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

Charlotte Daugherty, Legal Research Librarian - Foreign & Comparative Law

Amy Chua, (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother), has written a mystery that takes place in Berkeley, with excursions to San Francisco landmarks in Nob Hill and Chinatown. The mystery at the heart of the book is less compelling than her imagined and researched picture of Berkeley in the 1940s. Readers of the epilogue will also learn that Madame Chiang Kai-Shek did in fact live in Berkeley briefly in a house on Avalon Street.

Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood by Ed Zwick

Edna Lewis, Reference & Outreach Librarian

I’m a sucker for a book about the movie business and found director and producer Ed Zwick’s memoir quite satisfying. Zwick made one of my favorite movies, Glory, which tells the story of a negro battalion in the Civil War as well as Thirtysomething, the TV show that captured the yuppie generation. His movies are quite varied (Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, Legends of the Fall), and he was involved in the production of Shakespeare in Love and Traffic among other well-known films.

Whether because he’s in his 70s, has been fighting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for a number of years or is just willing to settle some scores, Zwick does not pull any punches in his memoir. Spoiler Alert: Brad Pitt and Matthew Broderick come off badly while Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhal are admired for their hard work, acting ability and professionalism. He also had an early run in with Harvey Weinstein on Shakespeare in Love which reveals just how scary and awful Weinstein was in business (Zwick sued Weinstein and won).

Aside from the great dish, Zwick also sprinkles in a lot about how movies are made and the different kinds of people it takes to make them. There is also a wistfulness in his memoir with his acknowledgment that the type of movies he made and loves have given way to comic book franchises and action adventure movies filled with CGI.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

Mel Eisenberg, Jesse H. Choper Professor of Law (Emeritus)

From Amazon: “In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie takes her listeners on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America. Her memoir begins in 1935, when Julie was born to an aspiring vaudevillian mother and a teacher father, and takes listeners to 1962, when Walt Disney himself saw her on Broadway and cast her as the world's most famous nanny.

Along the way, she weathered the London Blitz of World War II; her parents' painful divorce; her mother's turbulent second marriage to Canadian tenor Ted Andrews; and a childhood spent on radio, in music halls, and giving concert performances all over England.

Julie's professional career began at the age of 12, and in 1948 she became the youngest solo performer ever to participate in a Royal Command Performance before the queen. When only 18, she left home for the United States to make her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend, and thus began her meteoric rise to stardom.

Home is filled with numerous anecdotes, including stories of performing in My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison on Broadway and in the West End, and in Camelot with Richard Burton on Broadway; her first marriage to famed set and costume designer Tony Walton, culminating with the birth of their daughter, Emma; and the call from Hollywood and what lay beyond.”

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Laura Riley, Director, Clinical Program

Reading Rebecca Makkai's new book I Have Some Questions for You, which I liked a lot, reminded me of how much I loved her The Great Believers. The AIDS epidemic and crisis was really not that long ago, but this work of fiction reminded me of how much medical advancement we might take for granted. It is also a story of friendship, loyalty, and how to live life with connection.




Jewish Space Lasers: the Rothschilds and 200 Years of Jewish Conspiracy Theories by Mike Rothschild

Kate Peck, Cataloging

Journalist Mike Rothschild (no relation) recounts the history of a family that emerged from the ghettos of Frankfurt to revolutionize European banking, all while maintaining their Jewish heritage. It seems only natural that sordid lies and fables would arise around the family, the echoes of which reverberate to this day, but the real stories are far more interesting - from the vital role that Nathan Rothschild played in keeping Wellington's army funded in the war against Napoleon, to Nica Rothschild (officially Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter) supporting jazz greats like Charlie Bird and Thelonious Monk. This lively and engaging book offers insight into the ways that Jews have been targeted throughout history through the lens of one family.

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Monique J Macaulay, Acquisitions

Four women have spent their lives as assassins for a clandestine organization called The Museum. Now, as they have reached sixty, all they want to do is retire, lead quiet and normal lives, and get through menopause. Instead, someone is trying to kill them. This story is a lot of fun and has plenty of action, à la The Prisoner crossed with Golden Girls. If you like espionage fiction and cozy mysteries, you just might love Killers of a Certain Age. It is located in the library’s Popular Reading collection on LL2. Check it out!

The Legendborn Cycle by Tracy Deonn (YA)

I-Wei Wang, Reference Librarian

This series has been a bright spot in my sometimes wearying journey through my tweenager’s YA fantasy/sci-fi obsession. The plotlines of many of her favorites read like The Hero with a Thousand Faces, plus a few romantical dilemmas and quirky sidekicks (though I must admit I am a fangirl for Doomslug, the sea cucumber-like extraterrestrial buddy in the Skyward universe). What would a grown-ass woman be doing, reading stuff like this? Well, I’ll tell you.

Sixteen-year-old Bree is an extraordinary girl living a relatively ordinary life until the circumstances of her mother’s sudden death draw her into the circle of a mysterious group of powerful magic-wielders, where she uncovers her own powers and learns the hidden truth of her ancestry and destiny—which involves fighting demonic forces, falling (maybe?) in love (maybe a couple of times), and (presumably, eventually) uniting her people in freedom by bringing humanity the boons of her supernatural journey: The heroine with a thousand faces.

But Bree is also a Black girl at UNC … not to mention trying to iron out her relationships with the Popular Cute Boy and the Cold (But Hot) Bad Boy … and simultaneously working to fit into the exclusive secret society on campus, the Legendborn—the sword-swinging, demon-slaying, spell-casting inheritors of the legends of King Arthur and his knights. Tracy Deonn infuses the conventions of the YA fantasy genre—relationship drama, friendship drama, Mean Girl/social drama, confusing-growth-of-magical-powers drama—with emotional depth and history-freighted dimensions. In Author’s Notes, Deonn explains that she draws upon her own experiences of dealing with traumatic grief; of bearing the burden, as “every Black girl who was ‘the first,’” to break barriers; and of being part of a rooted tradition of survivors and warriors in the shadows of white supremacy. These features of Bree’s emotional and psychological journeys are deftly and seamlessly woven into her character’s development, never in a didactic or overt manner (my kid, who disdains simplistic moralism, would certainly have noticed). There are a few details that could be read as a distortion or over-simplification of the Arthur legends (and there are no coconut-laden swallows whatsoever). But the Arthurian themes as deployed by Deonn illustrate both the power of reductionist, eurocentric myth-making and the possibilities of myth-busting and myth-blending.

I enjoyed the eponymous opening volume, Legendborn, enough to eagerly devour its sequel Bloodmarked—and to anticipate buying the next installment, Oathbound, in hardcover when it comes out early next year. (I can only hope this series is not as drawn out as, say, the ten sprawling volumes—plus a totally bogus “volume 8.5”—of the Keeper of the Lost Wallet series). Deonn’s skillful building of action and suspense, and the heroine’s romantic and other adventures, make these books a good immersive beach read. Yet she also packs enough thought-provoking backstory and emotionally powerful growth to make you feel less like an idiot, even if you (as a grown-ass person) were seen reading it in public. Plus, who wouldn’t love that cover?

A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner

William H.D. Fernholz, Lecturer in Residence

Marion Milner, the author of A Life of One’s Own, was born in 1900 and her long life overlapped the 20th Century almost perfectly. At age 26, dissatisfied with her life and suspecting that the source of her dissatisfaction was in her attitude rather than outside circumstances, Milner endeavored to find out how to increase her happiness by studying those fleeting moments where she felt joy. Thus began an eight-year habit of diary-keeping and reflection. Her day-by-day self-observation became the empirical bedrock upon which she theorized about her own nature and created techniques for more fully participating in the joys of her life.

Milner, writing under the pen name Joanna Field, completed A Life of One’s Own in 1934. The book, last reprinted in 2011 and soon to be republished by Routledge, is neither a memoir, nor a self-help book in the conventional sense. Rather, it is stylistically unique, a genre of one. It is often a near-Talmudic commentary on Milner’s journals, the substance and methods of which changed as her aims evolved. Thus, the book is also a travelog, where the journey is internal and self-reflective, and the externalities of her life—career, marriage, friendships, and so on—are happenstance noted primarily to put her inner dramas in context.

A Life of One’s Own is a book about technique. Milner recounts her revelations about her own life, but contends that the value of her book, and the reason she wrote it, are in the methods that yielded these insights. Those methods anticipate the main currents of psychology and self-help in the latter half of the 20th Century, from journaling and free writing, to mindfulness, to positive psychology, and even to Daniel Kahneman’s insights about thinking fast and slow. Milner’s conclusions from her introspection and reflection are a prophecy of what academic psychology would reveal decades later.

On the surface, Milner is a typical Austenite heroine: young, upper class but not secure, and unsatisfied with the constraints of her life. Of course, Virginia Woolf, who published the similarly-named A Room of One’s Own a half decade earlier, is the most obvious influence. But while Woolf identifies structural sexism as the source of limitation and money and autonomy as the solution, Milner looks inward to the constraints on living we impose on ourselves, long after the ego-forming authorities of our childhood – parents, peers, priests, and teachers – have ceded their actual power. For her, the journey from object to subject, from passive to active voice in one’s own life, starts in the attitude we take. Its lasting value is in exploring the sources of happiness when affluence is not enough.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Ages 2 and up)

Edna Lewis, Reference & Outreach Librarian

I was reminded of the iconic children’s book Make Way for Ducklings recently when my car was halted at Highland Avenue and Park Way while the police helped some goslings cross the street in a Make Way For Goslings moment (see pics).

Ah, Make Way for Ducklings. Winner of the 1941 Caldecott Medal. Humor, brilliant illustrations - this tale of a family of ducklings making their way to the Boston Public Garden is classic and wonderful. Can you recite the names of the ducklings? I can - Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

My husband is a native Bostonian and for him Make Way for Ducklings is the standard by which all other children’s books must be judged. The McCloskey estate has done very well by all the copies we have purchased for folks over the years. Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine are two other McCloskey classics worth checking out.

Make Way For Ducklings

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Andrew Charles Baker, Assistant Professor of Law

One of my favorite works of non-fiction that I recommend at every opportunity is The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a Pulitzer-prize winning book by Richard Rhodes. The cinematic adaptation of American Prometheus (Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin) by Christopher Nolan in the recent Oscar-winner Oppenheimer has hopefully renewed public interest in the Manhattan Project. While the personal relationships of Robert Oppenheimer and Lewis Strauss are apparently intriguing to many, I think that they, objectively, pale in comparison to the story of how the bomb was actually built. Rhodes masterfully documents how a dispersed group of eccentric academics, military officials, and politicians raced against time to translate a scientific possibility into one of humanity’s most consequential inventions. Regardless of your position on the creation or use of the bomb, the story of how it came to exist is a thrilling read.

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

Mel Eisenberg, Jesse H. Choper Professor of Law (Emeritus)

In my opinion probably the greatest contemporary Japanese novel.

From Amazon: “Tsuruko, the eldest sister of the once-wealthy Makioka family, clings obstinately to the prestige of her family name even as her husband prepares to move their household to Tokyo, where that name means nothing. Sachiko compromises valiantly to secure the future of her younger sisters. The shy, unmarried Yukiko is a hostage to her family’s exacting standards, while the spirited Taeko rebels by flinging herself into scandalous romantic alliances and dreaming of studying fashion design in France. Filled with vignettes of a vanishing way of life, The Makioka Sisters is a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family—and an entire society—sliding into the abyss of modernity. It possesses in abundance the keen social insight and unabashed sensuality that distinguish Tanizaki as a master novelist.”

My Husband by Maud Ventura, translated by Emma Ramadan

Monique J Macaulay, Acquisitions

An unnamed wife and mother details the events and concerns of her week in the debut novel from French author Maud Ventura. Happily, or sadly (it depends on your taste), our narrator is psychologically unhinged and spiraling. We get to read in great detail, her every thought, her every manipulation. This train is hurtling down the track to an inevitable wreck, when, PLOT TWIST! No, I am not going to tell you that twist. I will not mince words; this book is not for everyone. It is pure avocado meaning either you are going to love it, or you are going to hate it, there is no in-between here. Personally, I like literature with women on the verge, so I really liked it. My Husband is located in the library’s Popular Reading collection on LL2.. Check it out!

Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi

Helen Kerwin, Clinical Supervising Attorney, International Human Rights Clinic

From Amazon: “Dr. Pereira is an aging, lonely, overweight journalist who has failed to notice the menacing cloud of fascism over Salazarist Lisbon. One day he meets Montiero Rossi, an aspiring young writer whose anti-fascist fervor is as strong as Pereira’s apolitical languor. Eventually, breaking out of the shell of his own inhibitions, Pereira reluctantly rises to heroism―and this arc is “one of the most intriguing and appealing character studies in recent European fiction” (Kirkus).”

Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity by Daren Acemoglu and Simon Johnson

Colleen Chien, Professor of Law

How technologies from crop rotation to social media have often failed to live up their promise of shared prosperity. A must-read in the age of AI by the duo behind Why Nations Fail.

Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

Andrew Charles Baker, Assistant Professor Law

A work of fiction that I recently read and greatly enjoyed was the 2023 Booker Prize-winning Prophet Song, by Paul Lynch. Set in a fictionalized version of modern-day Ireland undergoing an authoritarian takeover, Prophet Song centers the lives of a family navigating the tension between self-preservation and resistance. The story demonstrates how dystopia can creep in gradually and then all at once. Above all else, it serves as a necessary reflection on grief and survival in times of political uncertainty, especially for those of us in the West who have not (yet) lived through a wholesale societal collapse.

The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society Journal, no. 89 (Feb. 2024)

Dean Rowan, Interim Director

This review is an exercise in conspicuous consumption, because it begins with an imprudent purchase I recently made from Albion Records, a British record label associated with the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society. The Society and the label aim “to encourage a wider knowledge of Vaughan Williams’ music, his writings and his life…” One day Albion Records had a sale on most of its recordings, many of which I already had on my shelves. The sale allowed me to fill many gaps. Shortly after placing the order I received emails from the Society President and the Membership Officer. Ultimately, I became a member, a benefit of which is the Journal subscription. I am enjoying the Journal. It is clearly a labor of knowledge and affection, which I’m eager to tap, and a force of resistance against the haters who characterize the work of RVW and his ilk as “cow-pat music.” More generously, Peter Warlock is said to have compared RVW’s Pastoral Symphony to a cow staring over a fence. I enjoy Warlock’s music, too, and the notion of a cow staring over a fence isn’t as derogatory as what occurs at the other end. Do I have a strong recommendation for the Journal? It’s too soon to say, but I heartily recommend seeking an acquaintance with the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly

Joe Cera, Data and Digital Initiatives Librarian

This book is so good for so many reasons - one of them being the very cute jumping spider on the cover. I don't think I am alone in the act of catching spiders in the house and escorting them outside and this is always a good opportunity to take a closer look at the thing I just caught. Often, I find myself trying to definitively identify the spider I have just caught and get frustrated that there isn't an easy application that will let me identify it using various characteristics (or is there and I am not aware of it?). There are so many things people say about spiders that seem like common knowledge but I am not sure they are true. Here's one for you: Daddy-Longlegs (probably also Mommy-Longlegs) are one of the most poisonous spiders but they can't bite humans. Without going into the distinction of poisonous versus venomous, is this true? Read the book or look it up! Here is another one: People swallow eight spiders per year. Is this right? To quote the Past & the Curious podcast, "it's worse than right, it's wrong." It gets even better - this is from a 1993 PC Professional article by a columnist called Lisa Holst who made up a list of 'facts' that would be accepted as truth because it was stated by email or on the internet. This is the article cited in the book and when I looked up that article to see the other nonsense that would be believable lies in 1993 I found something even better than better.

In the end, the book is an entertaining read if you like both stories about individual spiders and want to know more than you thought you wanted to know about how spiders work. It definitely makes spiders much less troublesome and I apologize to each unseen spider when I accidentally bump through an ill-situated web. It also helps me understand why I can't simply list a bunch of visual characteristics and be told what kind of spider I am looking at - there are so many spiders out there and many of them are not identified because identification is actually quite difficult. I should note that the woman who wrote this appears to live in Australia. Common knowledge tells us that Australia might have some of the best spiders and the way that the author writes about them really gives some perspective to the ones I am looking at.

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America by W. Caleb McDaniel

Malcolm M. Feeley, Claire Sanders Clements Professor Emeritus

While working on a never-ending book on the role of private entrepreneurs in shaping the structures of and Anglo-American criminal justice system, I read extensively about Zebulon Ward, who pioneered and perfected convict leasing. A Republican and staunch Unionist, and a slaveholder, he made a fortune leasing predominantly white convicts in Kentucky in the early 1850’s. Following the War, he plied his trade, first in Tennessee, where he made a bundle, and then in Arkansas, where he became one of the state’s wealthiest residents. From his early years, he was obsessed about tracking down runaway slaves.

Henrietta Wood was born into slavery in Kentucky, sold twice in her youth and separated from her family when taken to New Orleans, where she worked for a family. There, the head of household in deep financial troubles, fled, leaving a wife, two children, and her slave, Henrietta Wood. The abandoned wife makes her way to Cincinnati, where she runs a successful boarding house, but is pursued by her husband’s creditors. She frees Wood, perhaps so Wood won’t be seized, and perhaps because she wants Wood to keep working for her.

Zebulon Ward learns that Wood, who was born in his hometown, has been freed, kidnaps her, and sells her down the river. Back to New Orleans, she is resold to a plantation owner who moves to Texas to avoid the War, and is held in slavery until 1868, when the War finally ends there, and she is freed for a second time. Through determination and good fortune, she makes her way back to Cincinnati, encounters Zebulon Ward by accident, receives aid from a sympathetic lawyer, and institutes a restitution suit for $20,000. After countless delays over nearly a decade, she finally prevails. Of sorts. In her suit against the by-then multi-millionaire, Zebulon Ward, the jury awards her $2500.

The aftermath. In a chance encounter, Ward reconnects with her brother from whom she had been separated by her sale decades earlier. She goes on to live a modest life in Chicago for many more years, and as a single mother raises a son who is the first Black graduate of Union College of Law (now Northwestern University School of Law), who had a long and successful career in Chicago.

I have only touched on the many perils and coincidences in this amazing account. It is a story worthy of Charles Dicken. Except it is not fiction. Neither is it a generalized account of good triumphing over evil. Nor does the author present it in this manner. Zebulon Ward is pure evil, and escapes meaningful accountability—the check for $2500 becomes an anecdote for Ward to recount to his horse racing crowd in New York City, the description of the slave auction house in Natchez is chilling, and the account of heartbreak and permanent misery caused by sale and forced separation of slave families is frightening. But, it is a gripping account of evil in a single case overcome by a strong woman whose incredible determination coupled with good fortune allowed her to prevail.

I am hardly alone in thinking highly of this book. Its author, W. Caleb McDaniel, professor of history at Rice University, received the Pulitzer Prize for it in 2020.

Table for Two: Fictions by Amor Towles

Edna Lewis, Reference & Outreach Librarian

I love Amor Towles’ writing and while I really would have preferred another novel, this new collection of stories is lovely, capturing the look and feel of his various books - Rules of Civility, A Gentleman in Moscow and The Lincoln Highway. In fact the character Evelyn Ross from Rules of Civility becomes the central character in a noirish novella set in Los Angeles. Towles is a stylish and witty writer. Even his throwaway observations made me chuckle (e.g. “Next I gathered up the pamphlets, brochures and magazines scattered about the room and dumped them in a drawer. Because even in a nice hotel, all that printed matter can make you feel like you’ve taken up residence in the waiting room of your dentist’s office.”). A thoroughly enjoyable collection.

Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde

Catherine (KT) Albiston, Jackson H. Ralston Professor of Law, Professor of Sociology, Faculty Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Society

I love Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next futuristic series of novels set in the Great Library. Here’s a link to the complete series. And here’s a description cribbed from the Tales from a Hollow Tree blog: “In Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series a world where you can—if you have the gift—actually jump into books, that library is the Great Library, the library where each and every book is alive.

Fforde compares everyday books versus Great Library books to photos versus the people they represent. The Great Library is a bit like an intermediary between fictional (or literal, as there are nonfiction books as well) worlds, and it contains every version of every book ever published, alphabetically by author on twenty six separate floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. In the Well of Lost Plots—the subterranean levels of the library—it also contains every version of every unpublished and/or unfinished manuscript, as well, and there are places in the Well of Lost Plots where books are demolished bit by bit and can be sold off piecemeal to be turned into something new. In the main section of the library there are also the basic creature comforts of tables and chairs at which to read, of course.”

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin

Catherine (KT) Albiston, Jackson H. Ralston Professor of Law, Professor of Sociology, Faculty Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Society

See the blurb from Goodreads below for description. But the BEST thing about this book is the writing, it is so good and not pretentiously so, but in service of the story. As soon as I finish I'm going back to read it again.

From Goodreads: “Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.”

For you grammarians out there note the inclusion of the Oxford comma.

The Trump indictments: the Historic Charging Documents with Commentary introduced, annotated, and with supporting materials by Melissa Murray and Andrew Weissmann

Ramona Collins, Circulation

I see that I wasn’t finished reading the last book I reviewed and the same is true here. However, after only reading the Preface, Introduction, Chronology of Key Dates, and skipping ahead to the part about the New York Indictment, i.e., the case that has DJT in trial and constantly on the news right now, I am infinitely better informed about the charges and the evidence that has been presented so far. The authors organize the material in a logical way in contrast to how I’ve encountered the same material out in the wild. Each indictment (DC January 6, Fulton County, Georgia, Southern District of Florida, and New York) has its own Introduction, Cast of Characters and the Indictment itself – meticulously footnoted and citing to the relevant statutes at play. Names I’ve been hearing about here and there are clarified. Fun fact: Karen McDougal is not the same as Susan McDougal! The significance of a class E felony is clear. I look forward to digging into the details presented here so I don’t have to fall into a news rabbit hole. Many thanks to Kristie Chamorro for lending me her copy of the book. We’re all about sharing here in the law library. We also have a copy at this link.

Trust: A Novel by Hernan Diaz

Kristie Chamorro, Technology and Instructional Services Librarian

Trust, winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is an intricate story set in the opulent world of old money in early-20th century New York. The novel explores capitalism, power, and how people shape their own narratives. I especially enjoyed how the story unfolds through four distinct parts – a novel, an unfinished autobiography, a memoir, and a journal – each a piece of a complex narrative puzzle. An added gold star from me was that part of the story intersects with the work of librarians and their role in preserving knowledge and memory. I highly recommend both the print and audio versions (I bounced back and forth between them) for your summer reading!

The Tudors: Art & Majesty in Renaissance England by Elizabeth Cleland & Adam Eaker

Dean Rowan, Interim Director

A traveling exhibition of artwork and objects from the eponymous dynasty landed last year at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor. This is the catalog from that exhibition. I have not read the catalog from beginning to end, and I have only skimmed the reproductions, but if you have the slightest interest in Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, their associates and nemeses, or Renaissance Faires, then “hie thee” (Macbeth, Act 1, scene 5) to this exquisite tome (a word that I’m shocked to learn Shakespeare did not use in his/her/their plays). I’m partial to the portraits and miniatures, Holbein and Hilliard, the color and filigree, but the quotidian objects can be fascinating. Plainly, I need a new tankard and an upgraded suit of armor. For me, these objects are enthralling correlatives to the music of the time, which I listened to on long nights of homework in high school and college.

The Twilight Zone: A Novel by Nona Fernández

Helen Kerwin, Clinical Supervising Attorney, International Human Rights Clinic

From Amazon: “It is 1984 in Chile, in the middle of the Pinochet dictatorship. A member of the secret police walks into the office of a dissident magazine and finds a reporter, who records his testimony. The narrator of Nona Fernández’s mesmerizing and terrifying novel The Twilight Zone is a child when she first sees this man’s face on the magazine’s cover with the words “I Tortured People.” His complicity in the worst crimes of the regime and his commitment to speaking about them haunt the narrator into her adulthood and career as a writer and documentarian. Like a secret service agent from the future, through extraordinary feats of the imagination, Fernández follows the “man who tortured people” to places that archives can’t reach, into the sinister twilight zone of history where morning routines, a game of chess, Yuri Gagarin, and the eponymous TV show of the novel’s title coexist with the brutal yet commonplace machinations of the regime.

How do crimes vanish in plain sight? How does one resist a repressive regime? And who gets to shape the truths we live by and take for granted? The Twilight Zone pulls us into the dark portals of the past, reminding us that the work of the writer in the face of historical erasure is to imagine so deeply that these absences can be, for a time, spectacularly illuminated.”

The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading by Dwight Garner

Edna Lewis, Reference & Outreach Librarian

Dwight Garner, the New York Times book critic, dishes up a memoir of thinking about food, eating food, reading about eating food, shopping for food, and then eating again. Garner categorizes the book into breakfast, lunch, shopping, nap, drinks and dinner intertwining famous writers' observations on eating with stories from his own life. He’s no food snob either. His memories of mayonnaise, baloney and peanut butter pickle sandwiches from his West Virginia childhood are as fond and reverent as those of gourmet meals shared with friends in NYC. He’s funny and warmhearted and you should just settle in and enjoy. I read this book on a cross country plane flight recently and was entertained the whole way through. Then I got off the plane and went looking for something to eat.

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

Joe Cera, Data and Digital Initiatives Librarian

This book digs into many of the issues surrounding unchecked big tech algorithms. The author talks about issues surrounding using algorithms for teacher evaluations, job applications, housing, banking, and more. It won't be a spoiler to know that these algorithms often work against everyone, especially poor and diverse communities. It was interesting to see how she compares the algorithms popularized by the system in the Moneyball stories to the common ones that have an effect on people's lives. One of the main missing components of algorithms that can ruin or hinder lives is that they are assumed to be correct and there is no evaluation or feedback of the 'correctness' of the algorithm's decision. One of the other big issues is that companies don't want to make algorithms transparent - the algorithm is where the money is made so not only can you not really know how a machine comes to a result, no one will tell you.

This book is an entertaining read full of interesting sadness that ruins lives and creates profits for countless entities. I would like to say it has a happy ending but it is clear that much of the issues are systemic and we will need to rely on government action to hold private companies accountable for bad algorithms. You can decide if that is a happy ending.

The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook by Hampton Sides, narrated by Peter Noble (Audiobook)

Marlene Harmon, Reference Librarian

My father in-law served in the marine corp in the South Pacific in WWII. He rarely spoke of his experiences there, which included witnessing the iconic flag raising on Iwo Jima, but he returned with a deep love of it and of Polyenesian culture. I thought of him as I listened to this well written, researched and nuanced tale of Cook’s last voyage. He would have loved it. The title sums it up succinctly, and the text lays out the events of the voyage in fascinating detail. Sides relies not only on Cook’s own words in ship’s logs and journals, but diaries, journals, and letters of the officers and crew of the Resolution and the Discovery, the two ships the voyage was made in. After leaving England and reaching Tahiti on this last of his three great voyages, Cook pointed his ships north towards Alaska, the true, secret purpose of the voyage being to find the fabled Northwest Passage. It was en route to Alaska that Cook and his crew almost serendipitously became the first Europeans to “discover” the Hawaiian islands, and were stunned by what indeed seemed a paradise. They continued to Alaska, and failing in their mission to find any kind of Northwest Passage, made the “fateful” decision to return to Hawaii. I listened to the audiobook, but you will need a map of Cook’s voyage, and you may even feel like you’ve been on it yourself when you get to the end of this book, a destination I was sorry to reach.

A Woman of Pleasure by Murata Kiyoko, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Kathryn Hashimoto, Copyright Law Fellow

This exceptional work of historical fiction, set in southern Japan at the turn of the 20th century, tells of a year in the life of a 15-year-old named Aoi Ichi, who has been sold by her desperate, impoverished family to a brothel in a pleasure district ruled by the powerful brothel owners’ association. While Ichi is initiated into the brutal realities of indentured servitude along with her fellow sex workers, she is mentored by two women: the top courtesan at the brothel, and the instructor at the Female Industrial School where the girls learn how to read, write, and speak like courtesans. This reflects two actual developments of the time: laws ostensibly acknowledging the rights of sex workers (by equating them with work animals) and educational advancement for women. Inspired by real-life historical events, the novel explores women’s rights and workers’ rights in the context of class and labor unrest across Japan. Murata is a long acclaimed, prize-winning Japanese author, though this is the first of her writings to be translated into English. One remarkable aspect of her novel is its deceptively light-hearted tone, conveying quotidian details of brothel life as a picaresque. The prose is simple and clear and a breeze to read, but is also rich and affecting. It manages to envision what might be achieved through empowerment, self-determination, and solidarity.