Billiken Bookmarks: Summer Reading Picks From SLU Authors

07/14/2017

Looking for that next great read? In this mini-series, some of Saint Louis University’s published authors share their recommendations for memorable summer reading with their fellow staff, faculty and students. 

SLU-Madrid's Laura Tedesco, Ph.D., and Joel Goldstein, J.D., from the School of Law, offer their picks for summer page-turners. 

Laura Tedesco, Ph.D.

Laura Tedesco

Laura Tedesco, Ph.D.

Book

You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff (Europa Editions, 2012)

About the book

This great novel tells the life story of Angelika's mother, set during the arrival of Hitler to Germany. It narrates how Jews and Germans gradually came to accept Hitler's racism. Angelika's father is part of the wealthy Berlin bourgeoisie while her mother is Jewish. Everyone knew what was going on yet nothing was done. This novel reminds us of the fragility of tolerance and justice. 

Though it is a work of fiction, the novel is also autobiographical in nature. Schrobsdorff writes about her family and her upbringing during the early stages of Hitler's Germany. Though there are many accounts of Nazi Germany and the persecution of Jews, gypsies and other groups, there are very few that narrate the story of a rich German family with Jewish members.

Reasons to read

The book is about the relationship between mother and daughter, entrenched in a historical context. It narrates many parallel stories while also reminding us of important values.

The SLU Connection

As a political scientist, I am concerned about the current polarization of the United States and some European countries. I feel uneasy with the exacerbation of nationalism. I have witnessed many negative reactions towards refugees coming to Europe. The novel I have chosen narrates the gradual deterioration of values. In these turbulent times, we need to remember the consequences of this political phenomenon. 

SLU Author Bio

Originally from Argentina but living in Europe for 20 years, Laura Tedesco, Ph.D., associate dean for arts and sciences programs, has been teaching political science at SLU-Madrid since 2012. Tedesco specializes in Latin American contemporary politics including democratization, urban violence and political leaders. Her most recent book, Latin America's Leaders (ZED Books, London, 2015), written in collaboration with Rut Diamint of the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, was the result of an grant from Open Society. The book includes research gathered through more than 300 interviews with leaders from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay.

Joel Goldstein, J.D.

Joel Goldstein, J.D.

Joel Goldstein, J.D.

Book

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss (New York: Penguin Press, 2009)

About the book

To the world, Clarence King was a celebrated explorer and scientist who mapped America's west during the late 19th century, a bachelor who socialized with the elite of his generation and Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of state. But, to his African-American common law wife, Ada Copeland, the blue-eyed, fair-skinned King was James Todd, a black Pullman porter, steelworker and the father of their five children. This deeply researched book tells the story of King's double life which bridged racial and class divides in the late 19th century.

Truth is often stranger than fiction, and that's often especially true regarding matters outside our own experience. This book brilliantly tells a story of a celebrity who covertly lived a double-life which took him to both sides of lines dividing race and class. As such, it provides insights about race and class in America. It's also a book about love and betrayal, of friendship, deceit and loyalty, and of the curious and complicated springs of human conduct that can affect even those with privileged circumstances.

Reasons to read

Race presents America's great and continuing historic challenge, and cases dealing with race play a critical part in courses on Constitutional Law that I teach. This book offers useful insights about it.

The book also reminds us that there is much we don't know about public figures, and it provides a wonderful example of how a gifted and careful scholar and story-teller searches for truth in data, yet sometimes must draw inferences regarding behavior to fill inevitable gaps in what sources record.

The SLU Connection

I like to read outside of the area of my own scholarly work and to read books by friends. I've been lucky in that my friends have written an eclectic collection of books ranging from David Goldbloom's How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist to Michael A. Kahn's Rachel Gold mysteries to Edwin M. Yoder Jr.'s Lions at Lamb House: Freud's "Lost" Analysis of Henry James and Joe Alsop's Cold War: A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue. I've known Martha Sandweiss since we were neighbors and classmates in elementary, junior high and high school in University City during the 1960s and early 1970s, and continue to visit with her on occasions now that she's a highly accomplished historian at Princeton University.

SLU Author Bio

Joel Goldstein, J.D., D.Phil, SLU’s Vincent C. Immel Professor of Law, is considered the world’s foremost scholar on the U.S. vice presidency. He is continually sought by national and international media outlets to provide commentary and insight during (and after) presidential campaigns. His latest book, The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden, was published in March 2016 (University Press of Kansas). He also authored The Modern American Vice Presidency: The Transformation of a Political Institution (Princeton University Press, 1982), and has co-authored several textbooks on constitutional law. He is currently working on a biography of Senator Edmund S. Muskie as a national political figure.

'Billiken Bookmarks' is a mini-feature series that will appear with new reading recommendations from Saint Louis University authors throughout July and occasionally during the academic year. 

Check out the next edition of Newslink on Thursday, July 20, for more suggestions from first-time novelist Harold 'Hal' Bush, Ph.D., and the School of Medicine's George Grossberg, M.D. 

Are you a passionate reader, eager to share your top summer reading pick with the SLU community? Share your recommendation with Newslink by July 21 for a chance to win a prize selected with the avid bookworm in mind. A round-up story featuring the best community recommendations will appear at the end of this month.