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TALES FROM WEBSTER’S: The Verminous Resuscitator and The Monsignor in the Zoot Suit By John Shea Gr’84 (Livingston Press, 2017, $24.95 hardback, $14.95 paper.) In order to tell these unique tales in a truly singular way, Shea, former editor of Penn Medicine and former associate editor at the Gazette, has created his own literary form. Taking a series of consecutive entries from Webster’s New World Dictionary—such as Hieronymus to highborn and weapon to weather—he brings them to life with the connective tissue of his narrative. Each chapter consists of at least five key words, and the linking text is no more than 50 words. “In a universe that seems capricious, void of meaning, and cold,” Shea explains, “there live strands of significance, if we can but detect and tease them out.” Buy this book

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FALSE DAWN: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East By Steven A. Cook G’99 Gr’03 (Oxford University Press, 2017, $27.95.) Now that the Arab Spring of 2011 has given way to an often-brutal Winter, Cook, the Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines the reasons behind the failed uprisings, which spanned a wide range of regimes and grievances. Buy this book

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ANTITHEATRICALITY AND THE BODY PUBLIC By Lisa A. Freeman C’87 G’91 Gr’95 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, $55.) In this exploration of antitheatrical incidents and their impact on American and European culture, Freeman tackles the political and societal consequences of how we define “the public.” Freeman is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Buy this book

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THE MAGNIFICENT LOSERS: History’s Greatest Unsuccessful Reformers, Revolutionaries and Fighters for Freedom and Justice By Gregg Coodley, MD C’81 (Bendrogo Publishing, 2017, $14.95.) An examination of history’s most spectacular failures, from Tiberius of Rome to early American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Coodley is a physician based in in Portland, Oregon. Buy this book

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