Faculty books

By Alexander Kaye
Oxford University Press, $40

This volume explores the history and consequences of the principle of the halakhic state, the idea that Israel should be governed by Orthodox Jews’ views on the law of the Torah. Assistant professor Kaye, the Stoll Chair of Israel Studies, examines the tensions that persist between those who believe Israel’s laws should derive from God and those who believe they should come from the people.

By ChaeRan Y. Freeze / Translated by Gregory L. Freeze
Brandeis University Press, $29.95

Part of the Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry, the diaries of Zinaida Poliakova (1863-1953), a member of the so-called Russian Rothschilds, offer an unprecedented look at the Jewish elites of Moscow and St. Petersburg. ChaeRan Freeze, who edited the diaries and provides fascinating background on Poliakova, is a professor of Near Eastern and Judaic studies, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Gregory Freeze, who translated the diaries, is the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of History.

Edited by Aldo Musacchio and Emilio Pineda
Inter-American Development Bank, Free download

A comprehensive proposal of solutions for state-owned enterprises in Latin America, which struggle financially and are weakened from political intervention. The book endeavors to help policymakers undertake the appropriate centralized monitoring of SOEs and oversee the necessary reforms. Musacchio is a business professor at Brandeis International Business School.

Alumni books

By Alan Taylor, PhD’86
W.W. Norton & Co., $29.95

A formal education, Thomas Jefferson wrote, prevented him from falling into “the society of horse racers, card players [and] foxhunters.” To give white children from all social classes the same ameliorating advantage, Jefferson tried to establish in Virginia a system of public education. After this attempt went nowhere, he turned his attention to building a great state university that would mold well-to-do boys into enlightened statesmen, an outcome that also didn’t materialize quite as he had hoped. Taylor, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer in history, examines — with the skill of a superb storyteller — Jefferson’s high-minded but flawed attempts to reform his fellow Virginians through schooling.

By Simon Sinek ’95
Portfolio/Penguin, $28
Leadership guru Sinek explains how to build better organizations: by switching our attention from the finite goal of “winning” to the infinite task of “fulfillment.” Great leaders, he says, are the ones who stop pouring their energies into being seen as No. 1 and, instead, partner with their employees to “build a world in which the vast majority of us wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled.”
By Michelle Bowdler ’82
Flatiron Books, $27.99
Bowdler, an award-winning writer, and the executive director of health and wellness at Tufts, relates the horror of the night in 1984 when two men broke into her Boston apartment and brutally raped her. Subtitled “A Memoir, an Investigation and a Manifesto,” Bowdler’s account also details the years that followed, when her rape kit was lost and no one was ever charged with her assault. How can rape be considered a crime, she asks, when only 0.5% of rapes lead to conviction and/or incarceration? A brave, illuminating book that’s difficult to read and impossible to put down.
By Gregory Zuckerman ’88
Portfolio/Penguin, $30
Still perfecting your ability to second-guess the financial markets? Zuckerman, special writer at The Wall Street Journal, profiles someone who seems to have found the key: Jim Simons, mathematician, former code breaker and founder of the American hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Simons’ company, Zuckerman says, has developed predictive algorithms and computer models that make it “the greatest moneymaking machine in financial history.”
By Brianna Caplan Sayres ’93 / Illustrated by Merrill Rainey
Intergalactic Afikoman, $18.95
Coming home from Pluto, Asteroid and her parents find themselves unexpectedly marooned in their rocket at the far end of the solar system. And it’s Passover! How will they enjoy a seder? Fortunately, the intrepid Asteroid makes discoveries — for instance, the moons of Jupiter are really matzoh balls — that keep the family’s celebration as buoyant as zero-gravity kneidel. A delightful tale for readers ages 4-8.
By Richard Godbeer, PhD’89
Yale University Press, $38
An absorbing portrait of Henry and Elizabeth Drinker, 18th-century pacifist Quakers who, during the American Revolution, faced constant pressure to tailor their conscience to the turbulence of the times. Even after the British surrender at Yorktown, patriots smashed up the homes and businesses of Quaker families who wouldn’t publicly celebrate the victory. “Scarcely one Friend’s house escaped,” wrote Elizabeth, and “many women and children were frightened into fits.” God-beer is a distinguished professor of history at the University of Kansas.
By Adam Mitzner ’86
Thomas & Mercer, $15.95
Mitzner, an attorney, in his off-hours writes gripping legal thrillers like this one, which finds lawyer Clint Broden becoming re-ensnared in the life of his trouble-prone childhood friend Nick, whom he defended 30 years ago when Nick was accused of killing his young wife. Soon enough, old suspicions flare up, and betrayals tear lives apart.
By Mark Fischer ’65
Temuna Press, $19.95
A financial planner, Fischer explains what you should be doing in the years and months before you retire. Much of his advice revolves around money. But much does not — for instance, he encourages you to think about what you might achieve in retirement that’s truly great, where you might want to live and how you’re going to replace the social networks you had at work. A comprehensive, wise and engaging book.
By Lucy Rose Fischer ’66
Temuna Press, $19.95
Fischer writes — and illustrates — a charming picture book for adults that captures the evolution of a long, happy marriage. This is the fifth book by the former researcher on aging, who in retirement launched a career in art and writing. (Her partner in her own long, happy marriage is Mark Fischer ’65, author of the book reviewed above.)
By Daniel R. Altschuler ’75 and Fernando J. Ballesteros
Oxford University Press, $26.95
The Earth’s moon has 1,586 craters named for people. Only 28 of them are women. Altschuler, a physics professor at the University of Puerto Rico, and his co-author shine a light on the complicated lives and hard-won accomplishments of these too few, largely forgotten women, most of whom were born between 1723-1896 — though two of the least-obscure, Hypatia of Alexandria and Christa McAuliffe, fall well outside that range.
By Juan E. Corradi, MA’67, PhD’73
Seapoint Books, $24.95
If you like to go down to the sea in ships, this is the wave-tossed tale for you. Corradi, professor emeritus of sociology at New York University and chairman emeritus of the New York Yacht Club seamanship committee, writes about the adventures he and other owners enjoyed onboard the wooden yawl Pirate.
By Daniela Weil ’90
Pelican Publishing, $10.95
Asser Levy was part of the first group of Jews to arrive in the New World, sailing from Brazil to Manhattan Island in 1654. This novel for middle-school readers is an imagined diary by the real-life Levy, who notched a remarkable number of successes — he was the first Jew in New Amsterdam to have official permission to travel and trade, earn citizenship rights, own his own home and work as a butcher. Weil dedicates her book to all refugees, “the bravest people in the world.”
By John Ibson, MA’70, PhD’76
University of Chicago Press, $27.50
Though they lived in a society that branded their sexual yearnings as unnatural and criminal, many American homosexual men of the so-called generation before Stonewall constructed lives of fulfillment, even contentment. Ibson, emeritus professor of American studies at Cal State Fullerton, explores how these men charted their course with few models and scant guidance.
By Ross Berger ’98
CRC Press, $59.95
Written by an industry insider, this practical guide teaches game designers, game producers, entertainment execs, students and others the nuts and bolts of creating narratives for games and other media. Berger discusses industry trends (including the blockbuster success of Fortnite) and the leveraging of other media, which can make a video game franchise more enduring over time.
By Chris Gavaler and Nathaniel Goldberg ’96
University of Iowa Press, $22.50
For emphatic ideas on right and wrong, look no farther than a superhero comic book. Goldberg, a philosophy professor at Washington and Lee University, and his co-author demonstrate what you learn when you examine superheroes’ choices through a philosophical lens and consider their metaphysical meaning.
By Brenda J. Bond-Fortier, Heller PhD’06
Routledge, $155
Bond-Fortier, an associate professor of public administration at Suffolk University, explains how the Lowell, Massachusetts, police department met public-safety challenges and improved community relations over a 25-year period. To do so, the author writes, this midsize U.S. city “transformed its police department from a traditional, fairly insular institution into a legitimate agency and a national model of community policing.”
By Laura Limonic ’97
Wayne State University Press, $34.99
Limonic, assistant professor of sociology at SUNY Old Westbury, tells the story of American immigration by studying the assimilation of Jewish immigrants from Latin America into the U.S. “Kugel and Frioles” traces these immigrants’ interactions within the larger American Jewish and Latino populations, as well as their efforts to construct racial and ethnic identities.
By Al Cuoco, MA’79, PhD’80, et al.
American Mathematical Society, $99
This textbook introduces advanced high-school students to linear algebra through an approach based in the extraction of general principles from numerical experiments. The book is also designed to help math teachers who wish they had learned linear algebra using this approach. Cuoco is senior scientist and director of the Center for Mathematics Education at Education Development Center.
By Seymour Epstein, MA’70
Mosaic Press, $18.95
As Epstein explains in his introduction, his take on the Book of Esther presents “a new view […] one which regards the text as much more complex than a simple victory for the Jews and which creates a tension between the original text and the story as we came to know it.” By doing so, Hillel Halkin proclaims in the preface, Epstein “stands all previous readings of Esther on their head.”