Recent Releases


Books by Colby authors


Elective AffinitiesElective Affinities: Testing Word and Image Relationships. Word & Image Interactions 6
Catriona MacLeod, Véronique Plesch (art), and Charlotte Schoell-Glass, editors
Rodopi (2009)

“Elective affinities”—a notion originally borrowed by Goethe from 18th-century chemistry for his 1809 novel of the same title—here refers to the active role of the two partners in the relationship of the pictorial and the verbal. The book is divided into three sections, which explore how words and images can merge in harmony, engage in conflicts, and interact in a way that tests the boundaries and relations among verbal and visual arts. New perspectives on word and image relationships emerge in periods, national traditions, works, and materials as different as (among many others) an installation by Marcel Duchamp and the manual accompanying it; the impact of artificial light sources on literature and art; 19th-century British illustrations of Native Americans; the contemporary comic book; and a 17th-century Italian devotional manuscript uniting text, image, and music. (Elective Affinities’ cover was designed by Rachel Tobie ’04).

Uncovering Promising Practices in SchoolUncovering Promising Practices in School/University Partnerships: A Look at High-performing Charter Schools
John Purcell ’92
VDM Verlag (2009)

A teacher at the University of California Magnet School with a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the university, Purcell has seen firsthand that a partnership with a college or university can deliver great results for a K-12 grade school. His book, which focuses on charter schools, shows that these relationships can enrich curriculum, broaden teaching expertise, and help keep at-risk students in the classroom. At a time when improved public primary education is a priority, Purcell shows the potential benefits from this overlooked resource. He also points to potential pitfalls that can keep such a partnership from working.  

Terasaki HidenariTerasaki Hidenari, Pearl Harbor, and Occupied Japan: A Bridge to Reality
Roger B. Jeans ’63
Lexington Books (2009)

Jeans, a historian and professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University, offers this biography of Terasaki, a key player in United States-Japan relations in the World War II era who has been largely forgotten. Educated in the United States and married to an American, Terasaki was publicly committed to peace between the two countries, but both sides suspected him of spying. Jeans’s research shows that Terasaki was neither saint nor villain, opposing the war and working to protect Emperor Hirohito after Japan’s surrender and pursuing transnationalism at a most challenging time.

The Insecure AmericanThe Insecure American: How We Got Here and What We Should Do About It
Hugh Gusterson and Catherine Besteman (anthropology), editors
University of California Press (2010)

“Americans sense that something is terribly amiss,” write anthropologists Gusterson and Besteman in their introduction to this perceptive and often disturbing collection, “even if the full picture is not entirely clear.”

Job security has become a thing of the past, as industries vanish and others turn to low-cost workers. Wage cuts have been followed by the crash of real estate and stock markets. Health insurance, once taken for granted by employers and workers, is increasingly a hot commodity. And, with earning power down, young people and their parents shoulder more debt for education and housing. “If the middle class is increasingly pinched, things are even worse in the financial underworld of the poor,” the authors write.

From that launching point, the book travels far and wide as its writers examine the lives and times of what would seem at first glance disparate subjects: gated communities, the war industry, Wal-Mart, homeless drug addicts, the commercialization of childhood. But these subjects are connected by a tightrope upon which Americans are walking. And the book is a fascinating analysis of the effects of our increasing anxiety. Author and essayist Barbara Ehrenreich writes in the foreword that this collection helps us to understand “the forces that have robbed us of security and—through understanding, combined with a renewed commitment to collective action—overcome them.”

Legacy of a False PromiseLegacy of a False Promise: A Daughter’s Reckoning
Margaret Fuchs Singer ’63
University of Alabama Press (2009)

The inquiries conducted by the McCarthy-era House Un-American Activities Committee have been mostly repudiated in post-Cold War hindsight. The blackballing of everyone from academics to actors was later widely seen as a regrettable consequence of the so-called Red Scare.

It wasn’t that simple for Margaret Fuchs Singer ’63. Her father, Herbert Fuchs, was publicly exposed as a communist, but he also turned in those who had served with him in secret communist cells. Fuchs named names.

Singer was 13 when her father was exposed in 1955. The page-one headlines, her father’s firing from his college faculty position, his outing of his former comrades—it all was filed away under what Herbert Fuchs referred to as “the troubles.”

But Singer unpacks that box in this book, which is fascinating on two levels. It offers an inside look at a remarkable period in U.S. history (lawyer Fuchs went on to become a staffer for the House Judiciary Committee in the 1960s), and it also explores a daughter’s complex relationship with her father. Singer delves into her father’s FBI file, but she also examines his life and her own in telling and perceptive detail. “I believe this experience broke his spirit and changed his life—and mine,” she writes. In coming to terms with her father’s legacy and their relationship, she has written a compelling memoir that is both politically and personally revealing.

Popular HistoryPopular History and the Literary Marketplace, 1840-1920
Gregory M. Pfitzer ’79
University of Massachusetts Press (2009)

In 18th-century America, books were the property and province of gentry and intellectuals, something to be cached in a home or university library and perused at one’s leisure. But by the mid-19th century, leisure time had spread to the masses and books soon followed. A new genre of popular history and fiction exploded onto the literary scene and was snapped up by what was a new driving force in the publishing marketplace: the public.
Pfitzer, professor of American studies at Skidmore College, explores how the emergence of this new market affected the study of history at the time, increasing knowledge of history but discouraging what was seen as serious historical research. As popular poets and novelists were recruited to produce the profitable but casual historical tomes, serious historians lamented that history would only survive as “an instrument of entertainment.” That pessimism was unfounded, Pfitzer writes, as fiction pushed history aside, but the appeal of the narratives of an earlier era would live on.

AlcatrazAlcatraz: The Gangster Years
David Ward ’55 with Gene Kassebaum
University of California Press (2009)

It was a time when criminals were household names in America—Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde. Prisons were, too. There were Sing Sing, Leavenworth, and, the island prison perhaps most infamous—Alcatraz, AKA The Rock.

Perched on a windswept island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz (Spanish for pelican) was known as the toughest of the federal prisons, “America’s Devil’s Island.” Ward, a sociologist who has spent much of his career studying issues related to corrections, focuses his prodigious research abilities on Alcatraz, specifically the period from 1934 to 1948 (a second book will explore the prison’s more recent history). From a chance conversation at another federal penitentiary with a former Alcatraz inmate, Ward went on to spend four years researching and writing a book that explores life within the prison walls and in the process sheds new light on a fascinating period in American history.

Depression-era America elevated both the outlaw and the gangster. Many of those well-known criminals ended up in Alcatraz, seen as the worst that the federal law enforcement officials could throw at its enemy. Escapees, alleged incorrigibles, and the most notorious were sent to the island prison, and the author profiles many, detailing their lives before and sometimes after incarceration. The lessons gleaned from hundreds of interviews and documents (e.g. that inmates sometimes act out to preserve their dignity), Ward and Kassebaum conclude, can and should be applied to our consideration of the effects of confinement in today’s “supermax” facilities.

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