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The Gathering Storm

The Real Population Bomb by P. H. Liotta, MFA ’87, and James F. Miskel (Potomac) The Real Population Bomb by P. H. Liotta, MFA ’87, and James F. Miskel (Potomac) By 2025, there will be twenty-seven megacities—those with populations greater than 10 million. Liotta, a visiting scholar at West Point, and his co-author, a defense […]

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The Real Population Bomb by P. H. Liotta, MFA ’87, and James F. Miskel (Potomac)

The Real Population Bomb by P. H. Liotta, MFA ’87, and James F. Miskel (Potomac)

By 2025, there will be twenty-seven megacities—those with populations greater than 10 million. Liotta, a visiting scholar at West Point, and his co-author, a defense consultant, write, “In the dense, overgrown neighborhoods and shantytowns of Lagos, Kinshasa, Cairo, Karachi, Lahore, or Dhaka, government authorities have failed to provide infrastructure and public service.” If steps are not taken to mitigate negative conditions, they argue, some megacities will become havens for terrorists and criminal networks, and sources of major environmental destruction. “We need urgent, collective, and innovative actions to help critical megacities weather the gathering storm.”

The Upside-Down Constitution by Michael S. Greve, PhD ’87 (Harvard). “Federalism can be a promise or a pathology, a blessing or a curse,” contends Greve, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Research Policy. He argues that federalism has stood the Constitution on its head. “‘Our Federalism’ (as the Supreme Court likes to call it) embodies just the opposite principles and premises. It serves the interests of politicians, not citizens. Whether we are still capable of rediscovering our more noble and magnificent traditions, and the constitutional conditions of a more prosperous and respectable politics, remains to be seen.”

Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon by Michael K. Bourdaghs, PhD ’96 (Columbia). The aftermath of surrender in 1945 unleashed a powerful sense of liberation in Japan, replacing wartime sacrifice with the desire for material consumption. “The resurgence in pop music provided the sound track for a series of important social developments,” writes Bourdaghs, a professor of modern Japanese literature at the University of Chicago. “With the end of the Cold War and the bursting of the economic bubble, the bipolar Japan versus America geopolitical map that had framed Japanese popular music since 1945 began yielding to a new mapping that increasingly situated Japan within Asia.”

End Times? By Daniel R. Schwarz (Excelsior). “The New York Times is facing a financial crisis that threatens its existence,” writes Schwarz, the Whiton Professor of English. As the Internet and cable television challenge its relevance as a major news source, the Times is searching for an identity. “In its desperate effort to find new readers and prosper economically in an environment where circulation and advertising revenue are not keeping pace with costs,” Schwarz contends, “the Times has somewhat compromised its standards and is delivering a diluted product that is less an authoritative newspaper than a potpourri of information.”

The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China by David J. Silbey ’90 (Hill and Wang). China spent most of the nineteenth century losing its ability to resist the imperial powers. In the spring of 1900, the Boxer movement, fed by growing resentment over foreign intrusion, exploded across northern China. Silbey, the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program, shows how close the Boxers came to repulsing the combined forces of Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, and the United States. “If they failed,” writes Silbey, “they did nonetheless serve as both an example and an inspiration to a generation of revolutionaries.”

Fiction

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner ’95 (Simon & Schuster). Ratner’s debut novel is based on her family’s experience in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 when the leaders of the Khmer Rouge, in an attempt to realize their vision of a utopian society, instead transformed the country into killing fields. Her young protagonist, Raami, suffers starvation, forced labor, and the deaths of family members, but clings to her humanity through the memory of her father’s storytelling.

The Sounding by Carrie Salo ’02 (23 House). In Salo’s supernatural thriller, Father Chris Mognahan belongs to a secret society within the Catholic Church that studies biblical omens. When the society asks him to investigate a gruesome murder, he finds himself fighting against evil forces that want to bring about Armageddon.

Non-Fiction

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism by Fred Magdoff, PhD ’69, and John Bellamy Foster (Monthly Review). The director of the Monthly Review Foundation and a sociology professor at the University of Oregon argue that environmentalists cannot solve the global ecological crisis without confronting the ecologically destructive nature of capitalism.

Alpha Phi Alpha edited by Gregory S. Parks, JD ’08, and Stefan M. Bradley (Kentucky). Seven black men established Alpha Phi Alpha, the sole intercollegiate black fraternity to be founded at an Ivy League university, in 1906 at Cornell. In this collection of essays, contributors discuss the importance of the fraternity and its role in shaping the lives of future leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, and Cornel West.

Serling by Gordon F. Sander ’72 (Cornell). Rod Serling’s early teleplays—“Patterns,” “The Comedian,” and “Requiem for a Heavyweight”—are touchstones of television’s golden age, but he will be remembered most for the 152 episodes of The Twilight Zone, which opened viewers to the strange and wonderful side of the universe, but always in human terms. Sander’s biography traces the rise and twilight of television’s “last angry man.”

The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims by Jonathan Laurence ’98 (Princeton). A professor of political science at Boston College examines the response of Western European governments to the rising population of Muslim immigrants and dispels the idea that Europe’s Muslims constitute a threat to democracy.

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