S.C. Gwynne ’74
When Thomas J. Jackson began his Civil War career, he was known among his students at the Virginia Military Institute as the college’s worst teacher, a literalist when it came to following military orders, and an implausible star in the Mexican-American War. He also was a confirmed Unionist who hated the very idea of the tremendous conflict that secession would bring. Despite his aversion to war, the man known as Stonewall Jackson became one of the greatest Southern heroes of the Civil War.
As S.C. Gwynne ’74 writes in Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, in a war that “made a specialty of such changes,” Jackson’s transformation stands out. With the same vivid prose that marked his previous book, Pulitzer Prize finalist Empire of the Summer Moon, Gwynne offers a fresh perspective on the life of the man who, 14 months after the start of the war, had become the most famous military figure in the Western world.
John Brooks ’42
An impassioned endorsement from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has put a long-forgotten business book by John Brooks ’42 on the bestseller lists.
Gates called Business Adventures, which came out in 1969, “the best business book I’ve ever read” in a blog post in July. He also mentioned that the book initially was loaned to him by fellow business titan Warren Buffett. Business Adventures is a collection of essays on topics ranging from the Ford Edsel to the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. Brooks, who died in 1993, wrote the pieces for The New Yorker, where he was a staff writer.
The book had been out of print, but publishers rushed to re-issue it. It since has made The New York Times best-seller list.
Last week, photographer and PAW intern Jennifer Shyue ’17 captured images of the changing campus colors — and one furry friend.
W. Barksdale Maynard ’88
The author: W. Barksdale Maynard ’88, a lecturer at Princeton, has previously published six books, including Woodrow Wilson: Princeton to the Presidency, Princeton: America’s Campus, and the award-winning Walden Pond: A History.
The book: The Brandywine River winds from southeastern Pennsylvania into Delaware and carries with it a rich story. Maynard offers a sweeping narrative of the river and the men and women who shaped the region’s culture and history. They include the du Ponts, who made their fortune there, and Andrew Wyeth, whose paintings captured the people and natural landscape of the region.
Opening lines: “It comes down from the Welsh Mountains and twists its way through some of the prettiest countryside in the middle states before gushing along a rocky gorge at Wilmington and meeting tidewater. The quintessential Piedmont stream, running lively over the rocks, the Brandywine finally loses itself into the flat and featureless Christina River, which joins the Delaware Bay.” Continue reading
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77 (Steven Pinker)
Plato at the Googleplex, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein *77 (Pantheon)
The author: Goldstein is a novelist and philosopher who has been the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award, recognized as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association, and elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also is the author of six novels, two studies, and a number of short stories and essays.
The book: What would happen if Plato were to reappear in the 21st century as an author on a nation-wide book tour? What would he say about crowd-sourcing at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.? About child-rearing during a panel conversation with a “tiger mom” and a Freudian psychoanalyst? Or about personal identity and free will while getting a brain scan in the cognitive neuroscience lab of a prestigious university? Plato explores these topics with people he meets on the book tour in modern-day Platonic dialogues that Publishers’ Weekly called “entertaining and accessible.” Goldstein weaves passages from Plato’s actual writings into the conversations and provides an exploration of Plato’s ideas. Continue reading