Recent Books, Winter 2015

Path in Mighty Waters180A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World (2015, Yale) by Stephen R. Berry, BA’92, MEd’94

Using James Oglethorpe’s Georgia expedition of 1735 as a narrative arc, Berry’s book tells the broader and underexplored story of how people experienced Atlantic crossings to the New World in the eighteenth century. Drawing on an array of archival collections, his account reveals the crucial role the Atlantic played in history and how it has lingered in the American memory as a defining experience.


Meddling180Meddling: On the Virtue of Leaving Others Alone (2014, Indiana) by John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy

In his latest book, written in “fits and spurts” over the years, Lachs discusses the joy of choice and the rare virtue of leaving others alone to lead their lives, even when mistakes are to be made. He believes help needs to be temporary to discourage dependence. Reviewer Stefan Beck wrote in The Daily Beast, “[Meddling] is not really about meddling so much as the glory of being an individual consciousness, with its own nature, will and preferences . . . The pleasure that comes of meeting challenges as an individual is what Lachs finds truly valuable.”


AmerNarcissim180The Americanization of Narcissim (2014, Harvard) by Elizabeth Lunbeck, Nelson O. Tyrone Jr. Professor of American History

American social critics in the 1970s, convinced that the nation was in decline, turned to psychoanalysis for answers and seized on narcissism as the sickness of the age. But as Lunbeck reveals in her book, the American critics missed altogether the breakthrough in psychoanalytic thinking that was championing narcissism’s positive aspects including ambition and creativity. The result was the loss of a vital way to understand ourselves, our needs and our desires.

Listen to Elizabeth Lunbeck discuss The Americanization of Narcissism on Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge.


Strong Inside180Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (2014, Vanderbilt) by Andrew Maraniss, BA’92

Strong Inside is the untold story of Perry Wallace, who in 1966 enrolled at Vanderbilt and became the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. Wallace’s insightful and honest introspection reveals his inner thoughts throughout his journey. This is not just the story of a trailblazing athlete, but of civil rights, race in America, a campus in transition during the tumultuous 1960s, the mental toll of being a pioneer, decades of ostracism, and eventual reconciliation and healing.

Listen to Andrew Maraniss and Perry Wallace talk about Strong Inside on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.


Colonialism by Proxy 180Colonialism by Proxy (2014, Indiana) by Moses Ochonu, associate professor of history

Ochonu explores a rare system of colonialism in Middle Belt Nigeria, where the British outsourced the business of the empire to Hausa-Fulani subcolonials because they considered the area too uncivilized for indirect rule. Ochonu reveals that the outsiders ruled with an iron fist and imagined themselves as bearers of Muslim civilization rather than carriers of the white man’s burden. Stressing that this type of indirect rule violated its primary rationale, the book traces contemporary violent struggles to the legacy of these dynamics of power and the charged atmosphere of religious difference.



Undistorted Godhires180Undistorted God: Reclaiming Faith Despite the Cultural Noise (2014, Abingdon) by Ray Waddle, MA’81

In his latest book, Waddle encourages the reader to find meaning inside of, and sometimes in spite of, our contentious times, in which the word “Christian” has become political, divisive and polarizing. Looking for the divine despite the insecurity and distraction of a post-denominational world requires seeing God anew in bread and wine, earth and sky, music and silence.

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