David Rieff ’78
In 2000, the prices of food staples such as wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans had fallen to a record low. Some experts assumed the trend would continue, and access to inexpensive food for the three billion people who survive on less than two dollars a day would drastically improve.
However, “they could not have been more wrong,” David Rieff ’78 writes in The Reproach of Hunger. By 2008, the global food crisis was in full bloom — the price of wheat, for example, had risen by 130 percent. This spelled disaster for the many for whom food staples are often not just one part of a varied diet but the only buffer between survival and starvation. Though more than enough food is produced to feed everyone on the planet, food prices continue to swing to record-breaking highs and lows, thanks to factors such as climate change and the use of crops for livestock feed and fuel instead of food, writes Rieff, who spent six years reporting the book. Continue reading
Amy Sue Bix ’87
The book: In the 1950s, women made up less than one percent of students in American engineering programs. By 2010, that number had skyrocketed — women were earning 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees and almost 22 percent of doctorates in the field. Amy Sue Bix ’87 explores how the few women who did enter engineering overcame gender biases before World War II, when wartime needs channeled women into defense work. Through case studies of postwar engineering coeducation at Georgia Tech, Caltech, and MIT, Bix discusses the various stereotypes women faced: They would waste their education, they wouldn’t be good at engineering, and they must be unfeminine to be interested in science.
The author: Amy Sue Bix ’87 is an associate professor of history at Iowa State University, where she also is director of the Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science.
Gayle Wald *95
The book: It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! And Black Power Television tells the story of the groundbreaking but understudied television program Soul!, which was broadcast on public TV between 1968 and 1973. The only nationally televised program of that time dedicated to cultural expressions of the black freedom movement, Soul! provided a stage for black-culture heroes such as Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte as well as a forum for activists Stokely Carmichael and Louis Farrakhan. Airing at the height of the Black Power era, the show also serves as an archive of black performance.
The author: Gayle Wald *95 is a professor of English and American studies at George Washington University. She is the author of two other books, including Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and has published articles on race, popular music, and feminist and gender studies. Continue reading
Daniel Muñoz ’00
Daniel Muñoz ’00 was a medical resident at John Hopkins University when a 39-year-old having a heart attack was wheeled into the emergency room. After serving as part of the team that saves the man’s life, Muñoz discovered something: “I knew where I wanted to be: not watching but doing, on the side of the glass where I can help shape a patient’s fate. I would be a cardiologist.”
Alpha Docs: The Making of a Cardiologist, written with James M. Dale, is his account of his transformation from medical student to professional as he completes the first year of a cardiology fellowship at Hopkins. Muñoz describes how he arrives at diagnoses, counsels worried family members, and struggles to stay awake for days and nights on end. “As a trainee, you’re hungry to become competent, and you look for opportunities to try something,” says Muñoz, who now is an assistant professor of medicine and the medical director for quality at Vanderbilt University’s Heart and Vascular Institute. “At the same time, you recognize the patient wants it done right the first time, so there’s a tension between the two.” Continue reading
Jennifer Weiner ’91
The book: When Rachel Blum and Andy Landis meet in a hospital emergency room, about the only thing they have in common is their age: 8. Rachel, born with a heart defect, is the privileged daughter of overprotective Jewish Floridians, while Andy, who is biracial, is the son of an impoverished single mother in Philadelphia. Though they think they will never meet again, they connect on a high-school volunteer trip and fall in love. Who Do You Love follows their relationship — filled with twists and turns — over the next three decades. The book explores the differences between people and also touches on issues of race, class, religion, and the costs of fame.
The author: Jennifer Weiner ’91 is the bestselling author of 12 novels, including Good in Bed, All Fall Down, and In Her Shoes, which became a 2005 motion picture starring Cameron Diaz. She has written for The New York Times and has appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America. In an interview on CBS News, Weiner said Who Do You Love was inspired by her own romance. Continue reading
Laura Hankin ’10
Laura Hankin ’10’s new novel, The Summertime Girls, is a story of two lifelong friends who reunite for one more summer in small-town Maine and must bridge the gap that has grown between them. PAW asked her to share her favorite books by Princetonians.
Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical
By Stacy Wolf, Princeton professor of theater
If you’re a fan of Broadway musicals and/or feminism, you’ll delight in Wolf’s insightful history. If you’re not a fan, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.
Louisa Meets Bear
By Lisa Gornick ’77
In her series of interconnected stories, Gornick creates a compelling world of characters so flawed and realistic, it makes you ache in recognition.
By Jeffrey Eugenides, Princeton professor of creative writing
You’ve probably read this one already. (After all, it won the Pulitzer Prize.) But in case you haven’t, get on it! Sweeping, hilarious, and heartbreaking, with an unforgettable narrator.