Category Archives: Books and Arts

Brooke Shields ’87 Recalls Princeton Days in New Memoir

Brooke Shields ’87

Brooke Shields ’87

In her new memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Brooke Shields ’87 details her early career as a famous child actress, her years at Princeton, and the effects of her mother’s decades-long battle with alcoholism.

First put in the spotlight at the age of 11 months in an ad for Ivory soap, Shields describes life on the movie sets of Pretty Baby, The Blue Lagoon, and Endless Love; her marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi; and her decision, as an adult, to remove her mother, Teri, from her longtime role managing her career.

At Princeton, Shields initially was so homesick that she told her mother she had decided to drop out (her mother persuaded her to stay). She also details how photographers pursued her:

The paparazzi tried to sneak onto campus, dressed like what they thought college students looked like, and follow me around. The students were great and they alerted the school and me if anyone saw anybody suspicious. One photographer hid in a vent to photograph me walk to a class; another attempted to bribe a Mathey College freshman to take a camera into the showers and snap me in the nude. They would have been in for a surprise if they tried, because I had taken to showering in a one-piece bathing suit!

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Sex, Jazz, and Murder: Krist ’79 Reconstructs New Orleans’ Empire of Sin

Gary Krist '79

Gary Krist ’79

“It is no easy matter to go to heaven by way of New Orleans,” reads the epigraph of Gary Krist ’79’s book Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. If readers aren’t convinced of this by page one, they certainly will be by the end of the book: Krist delivers a harrowing tale of a debauched, crime-ridden city as it struggles to raise itself from moral decay.

By the late 1890s, New Orleans’ elite had had enough of the city’s violence, prostitution, drinking, and rampant crime. In an effort to curb the influence of the city’s underworld, the government founded the red-light district of Storyville. There, Tom Anderson, once a scrappy kid from a bad neighborhood, reigned as the aristocratic and wildly popular “mayor.” The streets of Anderson’s domain were populated by cosmopolitan madams, eager customers, corrupt police, and a dangerous serial killer known as “the Axman,” as well as jazz musicians Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. It was on this battleground that New Orleans would wage a war against itself, as underworld and high society fought for dominance.

Empire of Sin hi-resLibrary Journal writes that Empire of Sin “proves that truth really is stranger than fiction” while Publishers Weekly applauds Krist for writing a “story more vivid and twist-filled than most crime fiction.” Krist, who also is the author of City of Scoundrels and The White Cascade, says he was drawn to this topic because of “how the social, racial, and moral issues of the times played out” in this unique setting.

Forty-five Years After Its Publication, John Brooks ’42’s Business Book Is a Hit

John Brooks ’42

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.
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The Poetry of Race: Dark~Sky Society by Ailish Hopper ’93

Ailish Hopper '93

Ailish Hopper ’93

For Ailish Hopper ’93, growing up white in Washington, D.C., meant living in a world where “the American drama of race” was played out on a daily basis, she says. She explored issues of race as a certificate student in African American studies at Princeton, and later through her poetry. “It was really only in African American studies that I could begin to understand my history, our history,” Hopper says.

In Hopper’s first book of poetry, Dark~Sky Society, the poem “Ways to be White in a Poem” is about a white female who obliviously reinforces racial stereotypes even as she struggles to be free of the social expectations for women. Other poems obliquely illuminate the effect of race on spaces and relationships. “As a topic, [race] is more than tired; it is exhausted,” Hopper says. “We know The Story. And many of us feel that we have been defeated by it.” The book was a runner-up for the New Issues prize from Western Michigan University. Hopper is an assistant professor at Goucher College.

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Heretics, Infidels, Founding Fathers: Matthew Stewart ’85 Examines the Secular Roots of American Independence

Matthew Stewart '85

Matthew Stewart ’85

The American Revolution led to the creation of the world’s first secular republic. According to Matthew Stewart ’85’s new book, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, it was this secular break from the supernatural religion of the British that made America’s independence truly revolutionary. The book offers a reappraisal of the religious and philosophical origins of America’s revolution and shows that it was secularist ideals, not Christian values, that drove the establishment of America’s most cherished freedoms.

To explain his argument, Stewart investigates the prevalence of deism: the belief that an impersonal God expects humans to reason out their own ethical codes. This belief system, which finds its roots in classical, pagan philosophy, was held not only by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, but also lesser-known figures like Thomas Young, instigator of the Boston Tea Party. It was these men and their largely secular, rational way of thinking that informed the ideas of personal liberty, religious freedom, and the proper role of governmental power — ideas that are now at the core of America’s most treasured documents.

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The Brandywine: An Intimate Portrait, by W. Barksdale Maynard ’88

W. Barksdale Maynard ’88

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.

MaynardOpening 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