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Various Books I

Long for This World: A Novel
By Michael D. Byers '91
Houghton Mifflin, 2003

Seattle medical researcher Dr. Henry Moss discovers a potential treatment for a rare syndrome that causes premature aging in children. Intricate plots and subplots revolve around his decision to administer the untested enzyme to a dying 14-year-old and to market the genetic information to a biotech company. Of Byers' much-praised debut novel, Publishers Weekly says: "Byers delivers a sympathetic but unflinching portrait of the American middle class and its discontents, brilliantly capturing the texture of late-20th-century life and the innate decency and fallibility of human beings trying to cope with its challenges." Byers is the author of the award-winning short story collection, The Coast of Good Intentions.

The Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life After Death
By Stephen E. Braude '67
Roman & Littlefield, 2003

Some people underestimate the evidence for life after death, not realizing how impressive the most convincing cases are. Others overestimate it, rejecting alternative explanations too readily. Braude takes a new look at the most puzzling cases suggesting life after death, and considers how to distinguish evidence for an afterlife from psychic or other phenomena done by the living. A parapsychology researcher, Braude is professor and chair of the philosophy department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

An Open Book: Coming of Age in the Heartland

By Michael D. Dirda '70
WW Norton, 2003

In this exuberant and entertaining memoir, literary journalist Michael Dirda recalls his 1950s and '60s childhood in Lorain, Ohio, brimming with eccentric teachers, catechism classes, and summer jobs in the steel mill. He also relays his discovery of books and the wonderful fictional characters that inspired his writing career. A Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, Dirda is a writer and senior editor for The Washington Post Book Review.

In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth-Century France
By Maud S. Mandel '89
Duke University Press, 2003

France is the only western European nation that is home to substantial numbers of genocide survivors from both world wars. By examining Armenian and Jewish survivor communities, Mandel found that most have clung to their minority status—choosing not to shed their symbols of ethnic and religious identity—despite France's long commitment to a politics of integration.

Critical Voices in School Reform: Students Living through Change
Edited by Beth Rubin '89 and Elena Silva
RoutledgeFalmer, 2003

The voices of students are rarely considered when initiating classroom reforms, say the authors, who themselves take a youth-centered approach to school reforms that address issues of race, class, and gender equity. Eleven case studies are divided into two parts: the first looks at attempted reforms that didn't meet their goals, while the second focuses on newer programs that put students at the center of change.

Tainted Legacy: 9/11 And the Ruins of Human Rights
By William Schulz '71
Nation Books, 2003

Abusive interrogations, suspension of habeas corpus, and secret tribunals: these are the sorts of human rights violations we associate with totalitarian governments abroad. Yet the war on terror has made such violations common in the U.S., writes Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA. Schulz claims that respecting human rights "both at home and abroad, actually makes terrorism less likely to succeed." On the basis of moral principles, international law, and actual case studies, he argues that the balance between security and rights ought to be very carefully calibrated.

Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children
By Karen Carlson Zelan '56
St. Martin's Press, 2003

Despite stunning advances in medicine, autism remains a mystery often characterized by "indifference or rejection of social contact," making treatment all the more challenging. Zelan, a psychotherapist who has worked with autistic patients for years, demonstrates how the social context in which these children find themselves can make a significant difference in their development, self-esteem, and their ability to think through problems in living.

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