Category Archives: Books and Arts

Is The Working Mother’s Juggle Really So Harried? Vanderkam ’01 Finds Out

Laura Vanderkam ’01

Laura Vanderkam ’01

The image of the harried mom struggling to juggle a career and children is ingrained in our notion of modern life. But is it accurate? Writer Laura Vanderkam ’01 decided to gather some hard data on the subject. She collected time logs for 1,001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year and found that most were not as frenetic as pictured: the women averaged a little under eight hours of sleep a night, and about three-quarters of them had time to do something personal during the workday. The logs revealed very few women consistently worked more than 60 hours a week, even if they claimed to.

“It turns out having a demanding career and a family means you will not be a sleep-deprived mess,” says Vanderkam, who describes her findings — and offers examples of strategies her subjects use to get everything done — in I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time.
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Nye ’58 Says Reports of America’s Decline are Greatly Exaggerated

Joseph Nye ’58

Joseph Nye ’58

Some people think that the United States has already been — or soon will be — eclipsed as the world’s leading power. But Joseph Nye ’58, the former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argues in Is the American Century Over? that America’s preeminence will continue for decades to come.

If having the world’s largest economy makes a country the world’s most powerful nation, then “the American century” — roughly defined as the 20th century — may already be over, since some calculations indicate that China already has a GDP that has surpassed that of the United States, Nye writes. Though China’s huge market can overtake the United States in economic size, we will not automatically witness “the Chinese century” if we consider economic, military, and “soft power,” Nye points out in the slim book, which takes the form of an essay. (By “soft power,” a term he coined in the 1980s, Nye means the ability to affect others through attraction and persuasion.) China has the world’s largest army but spends far less on defense than the United States, its population is aging, and it lacks soft power. Continue reading

Bieber ’04 Depicts Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Matt Bieber ’04

Matt Bieber ’04

Getting an acceptance letter from Princeton is an occasion for celebration, but when Matt Bieber ’04 received his, he felt concerned. “My brain was wired to worry,” he writes in his new book, Life in the Loop: Essays on OCD, which chronicles how it feels to have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

People with OCD repeatedly perform certain routines and have certain thoughts, impinging on day-to-day life. In Bieber’s case, he felt a preoccupation with how his teeth looked and whether they were moving. He describes OCD as an “overly active alarm system [that] gets tripped,” the effects of which can be debilitating. He suffered “an often constant assault of painful, intrusive thoughts.” Continue reading

Through his Father’s Letters, Bradt ’52 Reveals the Struggles of Wartime Families

Hale Bradt ’52

Hale Bradt ’52

In 1980, Hale Bradt ’52 began a decades-long project to learn about his family’s past after discovering the very personal letters his father, Wilber Bradt, wrote during World War II as a soldier in the Army’s 43rd Infantry Division.

The result is a trilogy titled Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey Through World War II that chronicles Bradt’s father’s experiences in the Pacific theater and the effects of the war on his family. Illustrated with news clips, family photos, maps, and letters, the self-published trilogy is being released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the war’s end on Aug. 14.

During his research, Bradt found some 700 letters by his father, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and was a professor at the University of Maine before the war. Bradt, a professor of physics emeritus at MIT and the author of two textbooks on astrophysics, studied documents in archives and talked to veterans and family members who had been mentioned in the letters. Much of the research was done in the early 1980s, when contemporaries of his father were still alive. Bradt also traveled to the Pacific battlefields — the Solomon Islands and the Philippines — and interviewed a Japanese colonel. Continue reading

Human Connections are at the Heart of Gornick ’77’s Latest Novel

Lisa Gornick ’77 (© Sigrid Estrada)

Lisa Gornick ’77 (© Sigrid Estrada)

Lisa Gornick ’77 has woven the events of everyday lives — some tragic, some moving, and some mundane — into the vignettes that comprise her third novel, Louisa Meets Bear.

In the title story, the sexually adventurous student Louisa and the mercurial plumber’s son Bear have a passionate affair after meeting at Princeton in 1975. Their relationship is a defining event in their lives, and it comes full circle in the book’s final chapter, which describes the characters’ trajectory over three decades. Other stories deal with Louisa’s and Bear’s friends and family.

After earning a doctorate in clinical psychology from Yale and completing the psychoanalytic training program at Columbia, Gornick worked as a therapist before shifting her focus to writing, using her psychological insights to shape her characters. In the novel A Private Sorcery, Gornick explores the family dynamics that lead a psychiatrist to a prescription drug addiction. Tinderbox, her second book, is the story of a Manhattan psychologist in a destructive relationship. Continue reading

Understanding the Rising Power of China

Professor Thomas J. Christensen

Professor Thomas J. Christensen

In a world where “Made in China” is more familiar than the Pledge of Allegiance, it seems that China is gaining a stronger foothold in American culture. To many, this rise in power poses a dangerous threat to American influence in Asia and beyond.

Professor Thomas J. Christensen takes issue with the view of China as a rival to the United States. In his new book, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power, he argues that Chinese leadership faces countless internal issues — especially the threat of domestic instability — which prevent the country from being considered a global “peer competitor.” Christensen is the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics and director of the China and the World Program at Princeton. Continue reading