Category Archives: Books and Arts

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

Princeton Books Quiz: Opening Lines

Test your literary knowledge by identifying the Princetonians who wrote these opening lines. Three prize-winners will be selected at random from the entries with the most correct responses.

  • Let us know. We’ll post a selection when we announce the contest winners next month.

Kruse Examines How America Became ‘One Nation Under God’

Kruse, Kevin (Etta Recke)

History professor Kevin Kruse

It is a widely held notion that the United States is and always has been a Christian country. Most Americans assume we have been a deeply religious nation since the days of the Founding Fathers. But in his new book, Princeton history professor Kevin Kruse argues that is not the case.

In One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, Kruse says that the notion of a Christian America is mainly an invention of the modern era. Kruse traces the birth of this idea to the 1930s, when corporate businessmen enlisted conservative clergymen to help fight President Roosevelt’s New Deal. They encouraged Christians of all denominations to view FDR’s expansive policies as a desecration of the holiness and salvation of the individual, Kruse writes. Their campaign for “freedom under God” ultimately resulted in the election of their ally Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Continue reading

Singer ’97 Conjures World War III in the Novel Ghost Fleet

P.W. Singer ’97

P.W. Singer ’97

As a consultant for both the Pentagon and the best-selling video game Call of Duty, P.W. Singer ’97 runs simulations that imagine some of the most threatening situations that could face the American military. Now, he has written about an especially harrowing scenario in Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.

Written with journalist August Cole, the novel imagines World War III as a battle in which Russia and China are fighting against the United States. When China launches a devastating round of cyber-attacks against the U.S. military, the Americans are forced to fall back on a low-tech option known as the “ghost fleet:” older Navy ships that are less susceptible to hacking. Jamie Simmons, who takes command of one such ship, must work to defend the United States while encountering technological challenges that present strategic and ethical dilemmas. World War III involves Silicon Valley billionaires mobilizing for a cyberwar while fighter pilots duel with stealth drones. Continue reading

Paris, Mon Amour: Kate Betts ’86 Remembers Her Years in the City of Lights

Kate Betts ’86

Kate Betts ’86

As her senior year at Princeton came to a close, Kate Betts ’86 found herself without a plan for her future. “So many people around me seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do, and I had no idea,” she recalls. An aspiring journalist, she decided she would move to Paris.

In My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine, Betts — a former editor at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar — recalls her five years in Paris absorbing everything she could about how the French cook, dance, and dress. When she first arrives, she hunts fruitlessly for work, eventually landing a short-term newspaper internship and then freelancing until she gets a job at industry bible Women’s Wear Daily, which was run by John Fairchild ’49. She becomes a top fashion reporter, visiting Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, befriending Christian Louboutin when he is an unknown shoe designer, and learning to follow fashion’s commercial calendar, which means orchestrating photo shoots for winter clothes in the summer heat. Along the way she tries mightily to fit in with her French friends and colleagues, though she often felt “self-consciously American,” and hones her reporting skills and industry knowledge until she is recruited to work at American Vogue by Anna Wintour. Continue reading