Recently Published Books by Alumni

And faculty. Plus, some recommended reading
October 12, 2015

FEATURED BOOK

Writing in Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted, Ian Millhiser J.D. ’06 takes a critical look at how the Supreme Court has shaped the law and thus the lives of ordinary Americans. Here he discusses why he wrote the book.

Shortly after the Affordable Care Act became law, my boss called me into her office and asked me to write a brief on behalf of several patient groups that supported the law against the first legal challenge seeking to kill it. I still remember what I told her: “I’ll get right on it, but do you really think it’s necessary?” It was a naïve time in my life, a more innocent age when lawyers across the political spectrum believed that this litigation would crash and burn solely because, in the words of a leading conservative judge, it had no basis “in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.” Over the course of the next two years, I became more and more involved in the defense of the law.

I also watched in horror as judges—and ultimately, much of the Supreme Court—ignored well-established legal principles to embrace a thinly veiled political attack on a law that would go on to save thousands of lives. The Supreme Court came within one vote of stripping health care from millions of Americans, and it did so based on nothing I could recognize as law. After we (mostly) won this case, I started rereading much of the constitutional history that I studied at Duke, and I discovered a dark past riddled with decisions striking down child-labor laws, standing with white supremacists, and holding that women could be sterilized against their will. I realized that a decision robbing millions of health care would not have been an anomaly. It would have been entirely consistent with the Supreme Court’s past. So I wrote Injustices because I realized that a strong American democracy depends on a healthy fear of the justices. And I hoped to dissuade others from being as naïve as I was when I believed that law and precedents are reliable weapons against politics in the Supreme Court.

RECENTLY PUBLISHED

Duke University: The Campus Guide, cowritten by architects Ken Friedlein ’72 and John Pearce, takes a comprehensive look at the university’s architectural history and development. This revised edition includes the 70-plus buildings constructed since the first edition’s publication.

Red Kool-Aid Blue Kool-Aid by Leonard A. Zwelling ’69, M.D. ’73 tells the story of the physician’s disenchantment during his year on Capitol Hill working on healthcare reform in Obamacare’s infancy. Zwelling is an oncologist, researcher, and medical administrator.

Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11 by Robert W. Jordan ’67 reveals the critical role of Saudi Arabia’s alliance while the lawyer served as the U.S. ambassador from 2001 to 2003. Jordan is diplomat in residence and an adjunct professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

The History of Infectious Diseases at Duke University in the Twentieth Century by John D. Hamilton catalogues infectious diseases studied at Duke and the Durham VA Medical Center, incorporating the themes of medical education, public health, and the university’s history. Hamilton is a professor emeritus of medicine at the School of Medicine.

Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles is a compilation of Dan Ariely’s Wall Street Journal advice columns, “Ask Ariely.” With illustrations by The New Yorker cartoonist William Haefeli ’75, the book explores how humans can reason through their most trying and trifling challenges. Ariely Ph.D. ’98 is a psychology and behavioral economics professor at Duke.

RECOMMENDED READING

Contemporary fairy tales from Duke English department lecturer Christina Askounis.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Starting with the erotically charged title story, based on the Bluebeard tale and set in France’s Gilded Age, Carter’s stories dazzle, delight, and disturb.

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue

Donoghue took “all the storylines from the ultimate plot mistress, the Oral Tradition,” boldly re-imagining thirteen classic fairy tales. Her stories treat the need for courage on the road to self-determination.

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer

This collection demonstrates the staying power of the fairy tale and the appeal of its darker aspects to writers of wildly different sensibilities: John Updike, Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Francine Prose, Jim Shepherd, Joyce Carol Oates, and many more.

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye: Five Fairy Stories by A.S. Byatt

How could anyone resist a story that begins: “Once upon a time, when men and women hurtled through the air on metal wings, when they wore webbed feet and walked on the bottom of the sea, learning the speech of whales and the songs of the dolphins...there was a woman who was largely irrelevant, and therefore happy. Her business was storytelling . . . .” It’s Byatt’s business, too, and the other four stories here are every bit as enchanting.