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Sheila Murnaghan and Deborah Roberts ’71
Childhood and the Classics
Oxford University Press

“What began as a project on 20th-century women writers and the classics gradually evolved into a study of writing about antiquity for children,” the authors share, “and the lifelong consequences of childhood encounters with the Greco-Roman past.” Focused on British and American children from 1850 to 1965, they explore the transformation of myth into children’s literature, how ancient history has been presented to and for girls, and the intersection of historical fiction and national identity.


Ari Larissa Heinrich ’91
Chinese Surplus
Duke University Press

When bodies become art in the age of biotechnological reproduction, what exactly is happening? Investigating everything from the Chinese millennial “flesh artists” to actual human specimens preserved in the Body Worlds exhibit, Heinrich analyzes race, medicine, and corporeality. “The plastinated cadavers will outlive us all—like the terracotta warriors, alive to history,” he writes, “and render in vivid dimension a detailed record of who we were, long after our best historiographies have gone to dust.”


Heather Abel ’94
The Optimistic Decade
Algonquin Books

A tartly smart debut novel set in 1990, The Optimistic Decade focuses on a charismatic counselor, father/son ranchers eager to reclaim their land, a true-believing teenager, and an aspiring activist who falls under the spell of the utopian summer camp that unites them all. “She felt so adult, her backpack full of used books with colons in their titles that would teach her everything Ira already knew,” Abel writes about that activist. “She felt, even with her problematic hair, almost beautiful.”


Kurt Eichenwald ’83
A Mind Unraveled
Ballantine Books

As gripping as a psychological thriller and lyrically written as a novel, Eichenwald’s remarkable memoir of his battle with epilepsy begins at Swarthmore in the winter of 1982, when he awakens in a snowdrift after a seizure. Unsparingly candid about the physical and emotional tolls his struggles took on him and his loved ones, the future acclaimed journalist ultimately accepts his fate and all the pain involved. “This book is my explanation why,” he writes.